Jewish SIG History
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Sylvia and Art Jaffe founded the Jewish Genealogical  Society of St. Louis in March 1995. The Jaffes had taken a genealogy course and  recognized that an ethnic group, a Jewish genealogical society, was needed in  St. Louis. (There had been a small Jewish genealogical society started by  Murray Darrish in the 1980s, but that had long ended.)

The Jaffes asked Ann Fleming, their genealogy teacher  and president of St. Louis Genealogical Society, to teach a short course in  "How To Trace The Family Tree" to their fledgling group. Trudy Levy, who had  been tracing her family for ten years, was invited to relate the Jewish  perspective to the class. Twenty-five people signed up for the free course, and  from this nucleus, the JGS of St. Louis began.

Gary Mokotoff, publisher of Avotaynu, an  international journal for Jewish genealogists, suggested that the group be  known as the Jewish Genealogical Society of St. Louis. United Hebrew  Congregation, which had given the Jaffes permission to use the congregation's  facilities, asked that the group add the phrase, "affiliated with United Hebrew  Congregation," to its title.

Sylvia Jaffe served as president of the society for  its first three years. Alan Barasch was next, succeeded by Art Jaffe. Jerry  Goldberg served through 2005, when, due to lack of volunteer leadership, the  society disbanded.

During its ten years, the JGS held monthly meetings,  regular classes, and many special events that attracted some of the most  well-known names in Jewish genealogy such as Steve Morse, Warren Blatt, and  Miriam Weiner. Field trips to local repositories offered participants hands-on  research experiences. A weekly discussion group provided members an opportunity  to ask questions and learn from others.

JGS began indexing local Jewish records shortly after its  founding. With the cooperation of local Jewish cemetery owners/managers,  funeral home owners, and synagogues, volunteers, under the leadership of  Phyllis Faintich, Fay Badasch, and Eunice Solomon, worked on indexing available  cemetery, funeral home, and marriage records. Much of that effort is now  available on this website.

Generations, the society's monthly publication,  first appeared in August 1995. Sylvia Jaffe continued as editor for the first  five years. She was succeeded by Jerry Goldberg and then Gene Schneider. Ilene  Murray was the editor from 2000-2005. A complete set of Generations is  available at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters in Special Collections  and at the Missouri Historical Society Research Library. Copies are available here in PDF format.

Joyce Loving, manager of Special Collections, of the St.  Louis County Library, worked with the society to build up the Jewish resource  section for those researching Jewish ancestry. With Joyce's assistance and  because of her interest in the group, the library purchased a large collection  of Yizkor (Holocaust memorial) books. In 2005, when the JGS disbanded, they  donated their library of books and videos to Special Collections.

Alan Barasch built a JGS website. Joel Shedlofsky and  Gene Schneider succeeded him as webmasters. The St. Louis Genealogical Society imported all of the contents to its website in 2005.

For information about the Jewish Special Interest Group of the St. Louis Genealogical Society please Click Here


St. Louis Genealogical Society · #4 Sunnen Drive, Suite 140 · St. Louis, MO 63143 · 314-647-8547