PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DATE: 22 September 2019: Jewish Roots Workshop

Jewish Roots Workshop


Sunday, 22 September 2019, 10am – 6pm

JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, London NW3 6ET


Interested in researching your family roots in Eastern Europe?

Join us to hear the stories of those who have,

and get help and advice on how you can too!



The Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies is delighted to announce our

2nd Jewish Roots Workshop

Our second Jewish Roots Workshop will focus on general questions of genealogy, and especially on the fate of Jewish families during the Holocaust. As last year, we also want to include your reflections on engaging with your family’s eastern European roots.

This year’s Workshop will have four sessions: two speakers on genealogy, and two family-research presentations. Our two very special speakers are:

  • Michael Tobias, a Vice-President of JewishGen, Inc and co-founder and Board member of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland), who enthused so many at last year’s Workshop; and
  • Sima Velkovich, from the Reference and Information Department of Yad Vashem, the internationally-leading research centre for Holocaust history.

Our family research presentations include

  • Asya Gefter takes us on a journey into the recovery of her family history, and her experiences as an artist and researcher. She grew up in Moscow as the granddaughter of a dissident historian, and the daughter of a human rights activist. The past was represented by silence: a near complete absence of stories, pictures, documents, memories. Starting from that ‘inherited’ silence, Asya began an extensive research project to uncover the stories of her ancestors’ lives, disappearances, ideologies, and migrations. Her findings reflect on the complexities of third generation Holocaust survivors’ experiences, and the ways that memory can support intergenerational healing and resiliency.
  • Sima Beeri’s parents were among the 5% of Litvaks who survived WWII, returning to Kovno after the war, their families having been decimated. Denied access to resources and archival documents in this Soviet republic, Sima had been unable to find out about her parents’ pre-war life – until a chance visit to the Yad VaShem archive in 2018 led to the revelation of her long-lost family, in documents and photos. This story, of the disappearance and concealment of any information from future generations, must resonate with many. Her discoveries will give hope to others searching to uncover their roots.

We will also be introducing the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research UK, a new London branch of this internationally renowned institution from NYC.

Our specialist IPJS historians of Jewish history in Eastern Europe, Prof Antony Polonsky and Dr François Guesnet, will join us again this year to continue those mutually enriching conversations between family-researchers and participants. A light lunch and coffee/tea breaks are included.

At the conclusion of the workshop, we will screen ‘A Town Called Brzostek’, produced with the involvement of Prof. Jonathan Webber, telling the story of the reconciliation of Jewish and Polish perceptions of the past through the restoration of the local Jewish cemetery, which had been devastated during the German occupation in World War Two.


Registration through Eventbrite –

Tickets: £45/Concessions £35, include morning and afternoon coffee/tea, a light lunch, and film screening.


A limited number of Concessions will be available. Early booking is recommended.


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