Welcome to the Orange County Jewish Genealogical Society! The OCJGS is your resource in Orange County, California, for all things related to finding your Jewish roots.
Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned expert, you will find our monthly meetings stimulating and informative. In addition to meetings, hands-on workshops, and special events, members also have access to an excellent library of books and magazines pertinent to Jewish genealogy.
The Orange County Jewish Genealogical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We are a member of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.
Remember the Days of Old; Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders and they will explain to you. (Deut. 32:7)
זכר ימות עולם בינו שנות דור ודור שאל אביך ויגדך זקניך ויאמרו לך פרשת האזינו
Calendar of Events
We have a lineup of truly world class speakers coming to you wherever in the world you are, from wherever in the world they are.
We normally meet the 4th Sunday of each month.
Virtual meetings are via Zoom. You must register in advance by clicking the link for the meeting you want to attend. Registration only takes a few seconds.
Attendance at virtual meetings is free to OCJGS members. If you are not a member, please consider joining. Otherwise, the charge for non-members is $5. Please visit the Membership page to join or pay your $5 fee.
Direct from Ukraine!
February 25 at 10:00 am (Pacific time zone)
Anna Royzner: Jewish Colonies and Shtetlah in the XIX-XX Centuries
To understand the Jewish life in the Russian Empire, we should go back a couple hundred years. The partitions of Poland, which took place at the end of the 18th century, led to the fact that almost a million mostly poor Jewish residents of Belarus, Lithuania, Podolia, Volhynia and most of central Poland turned out to be in the territory of Russia.
Jews were forced to leave their homes and move to Kherson, Yekaterinoslav and Tavria gubernias. The difficulties of this artificial resettlement of Jews from their usual occupations and trades and making them to do what they couldn’t do were obvious, but it did not stop the government. The desire of the authorities to solve three problems at the same time was paramount: To evict the Jews from the villages and thus reduce the Jewish population in the western provinces; To populate the desert lands of Novorossiya; And "correct the harmful Jews" by accustoming them to agriculture. In this way colonies were established.
Anna will also speak about the life of Jews in shtetlah later in the XX century. She will show Jewish houses, Jewish rooms, and talk about memories from her own childhood.
Anna Royzner is Ukrainian Jewish. In 1995, she started her work as a guide/interpreter and a researcher in Ukraine and Moldova. She conducts guided tours, helps clients find records in the Kishinev and Ukraine archives, and does cemetery projects. Anna has worked with the TV show 'Who do You Think You Are?' as a researcher and liaison with ancestral places.
Anna was a speaker at the IAJGS Conferences in Washington, Boston, Seattle, Orlando, and Warsaw, and online conferences in the Ukrainian and Bessarabian groups.
Register in advance for this Zoom presentation. Click this link to register.
March 17 at 10:00 am (Pacific time zone)
Alan Shuchat: History of Jewish Migration, the Diaspora, and Changing National Borders
Where were the centers of Jewish population? How did changes in European history affect where Jews lived? How does this knowledge help us in researching our family backgrounds? We will see the effect of changing borders on the language in which records were kept and where they can be found today. We will discuss how Jews emigrated from the Russian Empire and the various routes they took to leave.
Alan Shuchat is a retired mathematics professor who has been researching his family’s history for several decades. He is on the Program Committee of the JGS of Greater Boston, is active in genealogy SIGs, has helped members with Ukraine research and Russian translations, and has worked on translations for JewishGen databases. He has spoken on Jewish agricultural colonies, migration patterns, and finding records from the Russian Empire.
April 21 at 10:00 am (Pacific time zone)
Ellen Kowitt: New Jewish Resources on the Giant Genealogy Websites
Enjoy this updated comparative overview of Jewish record collections and research tools found on the global powerhouse websites referred to as “Genealogy Giants.” Comparing Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage, this lecture includes many substantive record examples. Learn how each site can be helpful for documenting Jewish families and get tips on each site’s best features or challenges. Current JewishGen partnerships with Ancestry and MyHeritage are featured.
Ellen Kowitt (pronounced KO-witt, like KO-dak) is founder and principal genealogist at Sole Searching Genealogy & Historical Research. Specializing in American records and Jewish ancestry, she lectures at national conferences and has published articles in Family Tree Magazine and Avotaynu: The International Journal on Jewish Genealogy. Ellen received her B.A. from Alfred University and spent twenty-five years working in marketing management and communications before transitioning into full-time research. Ellen completed ProGen and several genealogical institutes, and she is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She has volunteered in a variety of leadership positions throughout the genealogy community and currently serves as Director of the JewishGen USA Research Division as well as DAR National Vice Chair of Jewish Specialty Research. Originally from New York, Ellen resides in Colorado with her family. For more information, visit www.EllenKowitt.com.
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Services offered by our members
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