Bessarabia SIG Leader and Coordinator
1. General coordination of the SIG
Discussion List Director
1. Moderate Discussion Lists in accordance with JewishGen guidelines
Information Systems Director
1. Define Information Systems and Data Structure Strategy
2. Provide IS tools to support the projects and SIG management
2. Ensure that the the website is maintained up-to-date and in accordance with JewishGen guidelines
4. Ensure the technology watch and the evolution of the website and the IS tools to keep them 'state-of-the-art'
5. Provide reporting tools to the different Board members (project follow up, statistics...)
Yefim Kogan, Bessarabia SIG Leader and Coordinator
Yefim Kogan was born in Kishinev, Moldova. After he with family emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1989, he did extensive genealogical and historical research.
In 2012 Yefim received Master of Jewish Liberal Studies from Hebrew College, Boston with focus in Jewish Cultural History. He was active in Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston, taught classes on Jewish Genealogy for the local Jewish and Russian communities of Brookline and Boston.
In 2011 Yefim Kogan organized Bessarabia Special Interest group at JewishGen.org and developed a website for SIG and also for KehilaLinks towns of Kaushany, Dubossary and Kamenka, Tarutino, Leipzig. He stared and lead a number of projects for Bessarabia SIG: Revision List project, Cemeteries project, etc. Yefim have participated on a number of Jewish Genealogical conference where presented on topics related to the Bessarabia/Moldova region.
Inna Vayner, Bessarabia SIG Leader and Coordinator
Inna Vayner was born in Tiraspol, Moldova and immigrated with her family to the United States in 2002. She graduated from Baruch College in 2006 with BBA in Accountancy and has been working for IBM Corporation as a corporate accountant since then.
In 2012, while searching for her mother’s first cousin contact information, she discovered by accident that her maternal grandfather had siblings that nobody in the family knew about. That’s when Inna got interested in researching her family ancestry. Since then she volunteered for some of Bessarabia SIG translation projects and organized and led Tiraspol Uezd Recrods Acquisition and Translation project. Inna is the owner of Tiraspol and Grigoriopol Kehilalinks websites and she’s been an administrator of Bessarabian/Moldavian Jewish Roots group on Facebook since it was organized in 2014 by Yefim Kogan, Julia Khinkis Lombardo and Inna Vayner.
Alan Levitt, Discussion List Director
Alan was born and raised in Los Angeles, and received his B.A. in Communications and Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, and M.A. in Communications from American University in Washington, D.C.
He spent more than forty years in the federal government in senior communications positions focused on attitude and behavior change, primarily in public health and environmental areas. After retiring, he became deeply involved in disability and inclusion issues. He and his wife have two children and two grandchildren.
He has been interested in genealogy for more than 35 years, and was one of the original members of the Bessarabia SIG. He has been the Discussion Group Moderator for the listserv since its inception. The last of his Levitt/Levit family left Kishinev in 1905 for Montreal, and he still has family there.
Ariel Parkansky, Information Systems Director
Ariel is an Information Technology professional who has collaborated with the Bessarabia SIG since its creation and has joined its Leadership in 2016. He is also part of the Ukraine SIG Leadership since 2011 and the Town Leader and Kehilalinks owner for
For each of those sites, he has compiled databases (under the research section), five ongoing projects that already contain together almost 150,000 individual records and image documents.
As town leader, he managed (some are ongoning) several translation projects (Odessa Tombstones Book, Kilya Cemetery, Odessa Vital Records indexes, Odessa 1897 Census, Bendery Vital Records...)
In 2016 Ariel donated to JewishGen the SIG website platform that he had developed for the Ukraine SIG. The platform is already in use by the
Subcarpathia SIG and Bessarabia SIG and in construction for the German SIG.
He also created a Kehilalinks template that is being used by several dozens sites
Before becoming involved with JewishGen and the Ukraine and Bessarabia SIGs, Ariel organized a project to collect, translate, and publish Odessa vital records obtained by individual researchers (today integrated into the All Odessa database) and was part of the project for the 'Museum of the Jewish Colonies' website in Argentina.
Ariel began researching his family roots in the late 1990s and later added his wife's family to his research. His family comes originally from Bessarabia and Ukraine. They emigrated to Argentina at the turn of the 20th century. He grew up in Buenos Aires and has lived in Paris, France since 2003.
His family 'forest' numbers 1,550 individuals of whom about 700 are living today in 18 different countries on 4 continents. His family genealogy website contains more than 700 pictures and documents going back in some cases to the 17th century. You can visit it at www.thefamilytree.info
Alan Levine, Bessarabia Leadership
Alan Levine was born in New York and received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Stony Brook University. Somewhere along the way, he studied Russian for two years. Since 1983, he has been teaching mathematics at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.
He got started researching his family in 2004. Some of his paternal grandmother's family (surname TETELMAN) came from Teleneshti and Kishinev.
In 2007, he contacted Bob Wascou (z'l) about doing some translations of vital records from Russian. After Bob's passing, he began working for Yefim Kogan and the Bessarabia SIG.
In his spare time, he conducts the choir at his synagogue (where, coincidentally, some of the Wascou family are members), plays piano and enjoys his grandchildren.
Sheli Fain, Bessarabia Leadership
I was born in Jassy (Iasi) Romania. My mother, Bella Burdman came to Jassy from Olishcani (Orgheiev, Bessarabia) and married Ihiel Leibenzon in 1940. I was born after the war and lived in Romania until we made Alyah to Israel in 1963 and we lived in Jerusalem.
I studied at the Hebrew University and I have a BA in Russian Studies and in French Literature. I also completed my graduate studies in Jerusalem and received a Master degree in Library Science. I worked at the National Library in Jerusalem and at various department libraries at the University until I married Raul Fain, z'l, a Canadian of Romanian origins, and moved to Toronto Canada. I worked as a librarian in many business libraries and then as staff trainer at the Ontario Ministry of Health. I have two handsome sons Sylvan and Gabriel, two talented daughters in law, Jennifer and Chelsy, and a grandson Rory. I am retired and happy to do translations and to be involved in the JewishGen/Bessarabia.
Ala Gamulka, Bessarabia Leadership
Ala (Alexandra) Tulchinsky Gamulka escaped Romania during WWII as an infant. She grew up in Israel and has lived in Canada for many years. Ala graduated from McGill University. Her teaching and educational administration career spanned more than three decades mainly in Montreal Jewish Day Schools.
She now resides in Toronto.
An active genealogist, Ala enjoys maintaining her family tree and making new discoveries. She is fluent in English, French, Hebrew, Russian and Yiddish and is an avid volunteer translator. She is married to Larry Gamulka, a Holocaust survivor and a retired teacher. Ala is the proud mother of three children. Her six grandchildren give her special naches.
Terry Lasky, Bessarabia Leadership
Terry was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University with a B.S. in Mathematics. He lived for 45 years in Denver, Colorado and worked for Lockheed Martin Aerospace as a database architect and software system designer for over 30 years before retiring. He now lives in Ruidoso, New Mexico. He is married and has two daughters, six grandchildren and one great-grandson..
Terry has been volunteering for JewishGen for over 15 years and have done the following for them:Transliterated 128,000 Bessarabia Duma List entries; translated 9700 records of the 1942 Bucharest Census; translated the Orhei (Orgeyev), Moldova Yizkor book; analyzed and documented 2300 towns from Romania, Moldova and Ukraine for the JewishGen Communities Project; photographed over 40,000 graves, translated over 50,000 gravestones and submitted over 140,000 entries for JOWBR; built the Orhei, Moldova Kehilalink Site; indexed 15000 obituaries from the Intermountain Jewish News; indexed 17000 entries from the Feldman Mortuary Burial Books; translated 1500 Bessarabia Jewish War Veterans records and 500 Revision list entries.
Terry also supported Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) and other helplists and helped over 2000 people and located over 8000 documents. He was an active member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado (JGSCO) for 18 years and made over 30 presentations on Jewish genealogical topics to a variety of Jewish organizations.
Harvey Kabaker, Bessarabia Leadership
A retired journalist and technical writer, Harvey Kabaker has been researching his family for more than 30 years. His maternal grandfather's family lived in Brichany, Bessarabia, in the mid-19th century and moved to Yedinitz (Edintsy) before emigrating to Chicago between 1895 and 1905. Other ancestral towns include Serey, Suwalk, Poland (Seirijai, Lithuania), and Byelaya Tserkov, Russia (Bila Tserkva, Ukraine). He lives in Silver Spring, Md.
He has gathered data and worked on projects for Bessarabia SIG, Ukraine SIG and the Suwalki District project of LitvakSIG. Working for the JGS of Greater Washington, D.C., from 2009 through 2013 and in 2017, he coordinated and did solo research at Arlington National Cemetery to verify and expand a database of Jewish military men, women and their families interred or memorialized there from about 4,000 names and 2,500 photos to nearly 6,000 names and photos. Data and pictures are available through JOWBR.
Harvey coordinated registration for IAJGS conferences in Washington DC, 2011 and Seattle, 2016, and is Registration Chair for IAJGS Warsaw 2018.
Jeffrey Wexler, Bessarabia Leadership
Jeff Wexler is an attorney in Los Angeles, practicing intellectual property litigation and general business litigation. He has been an active genealogist since 2010.
Jeff's maternal grandfather and his family moved to the U.S. from Akkerman (at that time Cetatea Alba) in 1920 and 1921; before Akkerman, the family lived in Grigoriopol, Tiraspol, and Peschanka. Jeff is researching Vodovoz, Arbit, and Chernetz ancestors from Bessarabia.
Jeff's maternal grandmother was from Botosani, Romania. Jeff's paternal grandparents came to the U.S. from Poland; Jeff has extracted tens of thousands of Polish records for JRI-Poland and the Czestochowa-Radomsko Area Research Group.
Jeff's website, www.levitedna.org, is devoted to R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites, a Y-DNA cluster that includes about 60% of Ashkenazi men with a Levite tradition (and about 8% of Ashkenazi men), all of whom are descended from a single Levite man who lived about 1,750 years ago. Jeff is a co-author of Dr. Doron Behar's 2017 article on R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites, D. Behar et al., The genetic variation in the R1a clade among the Ashkenazi Levites’ Y chromosome, SREP-17-37687 (2017).
Roberta Jaffer, Bessarabia Yizkor Books Project Manager
Roberta grew up in Chelsea, Massachusetts and is a retired teacher. She is an active member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston. With the help of Society members, she created a database of extracted genealogical information from the advertisements placed in the Boston Jewish Advocate of people searching for relatives. This is now part of the U.S. Database on JewishGen. She is also an active contributor of Massachusetts cemetery photos for JOWBR.
Roberta participated for a number of years in the JGSGB (local Boston group) Bessarabia SIG and is currently the leader. She actively participated in transcribing, indexing Miriam Weiner's material, which is now part of our Bessarabia SIG website. Her current project is obtaining scans of Bessarabian town maps, having them translated into English, and uploading them to a Town Map section of the Sig website.
Having been the last translation coordinator for the Brichany Yizkor book which is now published, she has volunteered to be the Bessarabia Yizkor Books Project Manager to find and guide translation coordinators for the remaining untranslated books.