The Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland will ring in its 40th year with a celebration honoring its historical foundations while looking to the future. The event will highlight longtime volunteers and honorary co-chairs Russ Maurer and Amy Wachs.
Maurer, a Pepper Pike resident, said he was more than happy to accept the nomination.
“I didn’t hesitate, even though I had a lot on my plate,” he told the Cleveland Jewish News. “It’s a great honor.”
The 40th-anniversary celebration will act as a kickoff for the community by inviting members and nonmembers to participate in the festivities. Special guest speaker Daniel Horowitz, a genealogy expert at MyHeritage, will be featured at general genealogy-based programs from 9 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. April 22 and Jewish genealogy-focused programs from 2 to 4 p.m. April 23.
Horowitz will present topics such as, “If I only knew then what I know now! Doing genealogy the right way,” and “What, who, why, where, when and how genealogy, the anthropology of genealogy.”
A meet-and-greet with Horowitz will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 23 at Davis Bakery & Deli at 28700 Chagrin Blvd. in Woodmere.
Deborah Katz of Medina, the organization’s president, told the CJN the inspiration for the programs was spurred by the need to “share stories, histories and genealogies.”
Katz, who said she stepped in as the president during an emergency transition in July 2022, has focused on bringing new technology to the genealogical society to support new members, build communications and upgrade the website’s functionality. Her goal is to attract new members while honoring the strength of current ones, she said.
“It is important for us to recognize longtime leaders like Amy and Russ as we celebrate them, we celebrate our past, but also plan for our future,” she told the CJN.
Volunteers for the genealogy society assist those looking to connect with their Jewish heritage in Cleveland by accessing court records, combing through newspaper clippings and inspecting cemetery inscriptions. Members can attend monthly meetings and events that focus on genealogical research and Jewish family history.
Wachs, a Lyndhurst resident who is a past president and current board member, said one of the benefits of getting involved is the connection she finds with like-minded people.
“I joined the organization to learn more and meet others who shared my interest in genealogy,” Wachs said. “It’s been gratifying to see the many accomplishments of the organization over the years.”
The presentations are held in partnership with the North East Ohio Genealogy Round Table, the Cuyahoga West Chapter and the Cuyahoga Valley Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Programs are free, but registration for the events is required. To register, visit jgscleveland.org. A Zoom option is available for all programs. To register to attend by Zoom, visit bit.ly/3KxeFjz.
Katz said the organization looks toward the future to thrive.
“You need a foundation and we’ve focused on rebuilding and building our foundation,” she said. “JGSC is stable and growing.”
Karyssa Rose is a student at Cleveland State University and writes for the student newspaper, The Cleveland Stater.