Driving Directions
Past Programs

Current Programs

Non-members/Visitors are welcome to attend programs for a $5.00 fee. If a guest joins the Society the fee will be applied toward the membership dues. Programs generally start at 1:30 PM - see exact time for each meeting, below. Doors open a half-hour earlier. Meetings start with JGSGW business, introductions of new members, and then the guest speaker.

Workshops are open to JGSGW members only. Non-members may join on the day of the workshop unless advance registration is required.

Meeting Calendar for First Half 2015

  May 17: Temple Beth Ami, Rockville
May 18: Tammy Hepps presentation, Library of Congress (open to public)
June 7:
Potomac Community Center

 Inclement weather policy: if the synagogue
 (or other venue) is closed, our meeting will not be held.


May Sunday, May 17, 2015
The Margarine Moonshiners from Minsk: Conducting Story-Driven Research
Note          Time:  
1:30 PM - Schmooze                 
1:45 PM - Short Business Meeting, Announcements, and Program
  Speaker: Tammy Hepps (bio)
In spring 2011 a routine search on my great-grandfather revealed the shocking surprise
that he had been incarcerated in Leavenworth. What followed was a rollicking genealogical
journey tracing a group of brothers and brothers-in-law recently emigrated from Minsk,
who set out to sell margarine as butter in defiance of one the stranger pieces of
legislation ever passed. Learn how my desire to tell this story in its entirety led to
uncovering the hijinks of my great-grandfather, who fled with his family repeatedly
before the feds finally nabbed him, my great-grandmother, whose pleas to the warden still
survive, the brother-in-law he fingered who was excommunicated for selling lard as
butter, another brother-in-law who was arrested for threatening to kill a witness, the
soon-to-be-famous inspector who was hot on their tail the entire time, and more. Numerous
historical and genealogical repositories will be discussed as I retrace my multi-year
journey to get to the bottom of his long-concealed chapter in my family history and offer
advice for how you can better pursue the fascinating leads in your own tree when you
think like a storyteller.

May Monday, May 18, 2015
In Search of a Usable Past: Reconstructing the Jewish History of Homestead, Pennsylvania


Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Noon - 1:00 PM
  This program is free and open to the public.

It is co-sponsored by JGSGW. For details, click here.

June Sunday, June 7, 2015
Membership Appreciation Luncheon      *** Members Only - no Guests ***
Noon - Meeting and Luncheon
1:00 PM - Program
  Speaker: Prof. Glenn Dyner, PhD: "Jews, Liquor, and Life in Eastern Europe" (bio)
  In pre-modern Eastern Europe, the Jewish-run tavern was often the center of leisure, hospitality, business, and even religious festivities. This unusual situation came about because the nobles who owned taverns believed that only Jews were sober enough to run taverns profitably, a belief so ingrained as to endure even the rise of Hasidism's robust drinking culture. As liquor became the region's boom industry, Jewish tavern keepers became integral to both local economies and local social life, presiding over Christian celebrations and dispensing advice, medical remedies and loans. Nevertheless, reformers and government officials, blaming Jewish tavern keepers for epidemic peasant drunkenness, sought to drive Jews out of the liquor trade. Historians have assumed that this spelled the end of the Polish Jewish liquor trade. However, newly discovered archival sources demonstrate that nobles often helped their Jewish tavern keepers evade fees, bans and expulsions by installing Christians as “fronts” for their taverns. The result—a vast underground Jewish liquor trade—reflects an impressive level of local Polish-Jewish co-existence that contrasts with the more familiar story of anti-Semitism and violence.

© 2015, Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, Inc.