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Who's Who at JewishGen

Board of Directors

Bruce C. Ratner — Chairman

Bruce C. Ratner serves as Executive Vice President and Director, Forest City Enterprises, Inc. and Executive Chairman, Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), the New York City subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises, Inc. He is also a member of the board of directors of Forest City Enterprises. Mr. Ratner served as principal owner of the Brooklyn Nets and was responsible for the development of the Barclays Center sports arena and the rejuvenation of Downtown Brooklyn.

Mr. Ratner has led FCRC to prominence as one of the foremost urban real estate developers in the U.S. He is a respected business and civic leader in New York with a distinguished career in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining Forest City, Mr. Ratner held prominent positions in New York City’s political arena as well as New York University Law School. From 1978 to 1982, Mr. Ratner served as Commissioner of Consumer Affairs during New York City Mayor Ed Koch's Administration. From 1970 to 1973, he was director of the Model Cities Program and head of the Consumer Protection Division in New York City Mayor John Lindsay’s Administration.

In addition to his work as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, he serves on the boards of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College. Mr. Ratner served as the Chairman of Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) from 1992 to 2001 and as Vice Chairman of Long Island University. He is a 1967 cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a 1970 graduate of Columbia University Law School.

Jack Kliger

Jack Kliger, President & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, was born in Florence, Italy to Polish and Hungarian Holocaust survivors before emigrating with his family to Brooklyn as a young child. He has had an accomplished career in media, beginning in the 1980s as Publisher of GQ Magazine and then Glamour magazine, followed by his roles as Executive Vice President of Condé Nast Publications and Parade Publications. In 1999, he began a decade-long tenure as President & CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., publishing 17 magazine brands in the United States that included the popular Elle, George, Woman’s Day, and Car and Driver. Kliger has served as Chairman of the industry trade association Magazine Publishers of America and as CEO of TV Guide Magazine, and has been recognized with Lifetime Achievement Awards from Magazine Publishers of America and the Anti-Defamation League. Kliger was named President & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in 2019 after 13 years of service on its Board of Trustees and oversaw the opening of its groundbreaking exhibition, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.

Peter S. Kalikow

Peter S. Kalikow is President of H.J. Kalikow & Company, LLC, one of New York City’s leading real estate firms. He is the former Chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), former Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, past owner and publisher of the New York Post, and current Chairman of the Grand Central Partnership.

Mr. Kalikow is the third generation to preside over his family’s 90 year-old real estate company founded in 1927. Under his leadership, H.J. Kalikow & Co. has developed millions of square feet of commercial office space as well as constructed many prominent residential apartments in Manhattan. Active is several major real estate associations, Mr. Kalikow is the recipient of numerous prestigious real estate awards.

Mr. Kalikow is is a founding member of the Museum of Jewish Heritage and is actively involved in several philanthropic boards, including New York Presbyterian Hospital and Hofstra University, where he recently endowed the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs.

E. Randol Schoenberg

E. Randol Schoenberg, was the co-founding partner of Burris, Schoenberg & Walden, LLP, where he handled a number of complex business litigation matters, specializing in cases involving looted art and the recovery of property stolen by the Nazi authorities during the Holocaust. He won the return of five famous Klimt paintings for his client, Maria Altmann. In 2007, Mr. Schoenberg received the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award for outstanding achievement in the field of litigation. He also received the 2006 Jurisprudence Award from the Anti-Defamation League and the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award from the American Jewish Congress.

Mr. Schoenberg served as President of Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust from 2005-2015, during which time the museum constructed its new building in Pan Pacific Park. Mr. Schoenberg led the redesign of the permanent exhibit for the new museum. In 2013, he served as acting executive director while the Museum conducted a search for its new executive director.

He serves on the board of the Los Angeles Opera, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Sinai Akiba Academy, Southwest Chamber Music Society, JewishGen, Choral Society of Southern California, and the L.A. Jewish Symphony. He has an avid genealogist since he was 8 years old, maintains a huge family tree both on JewishGen and Geni, and is the Co-Founder, Coordinator and Moderator for the JewishGen Austria-Czech Special Interest Group. He is the author of the Beginner's Guide to Austrian-Jewish Genealogy and the co-author of Getting Started with Czech-Jewish Genealogy.

Executive Director

Avraham Groll — Executive Director

Avraham Groll is passionate about connecting people with their Jewish roots, and helping them experience what it means to be part of the Jewish people.

He holds an MBA from Montclair State University, an MA in Judaic Studies from Touro College, a BS in Business Administration from Ramapo College, and a certificate in Executive Leadership from Columbia University. Avraham spent two years studying at Yeshiva Ohr Yerushalayim in Israel and is a frequent lecturer on a variety of Jewish genealogical and historical topics.

Volunteer Leadership

Phyllis Kramer — Director of Education

Phyllis Kramer is a practicing genealogist with primary interest in Eastern European Jewish research.  Phyllis has an MBA from Fordham University and a B.S. from Cornell.  Her work experience was technical and managerial, primarily for IBM, and included Systems Engineering, Product and Business Management and Consulting, where she designed and installed image processing systems.

Phyllis’s genealogical accomplishments since taking early retirement, include: compiling a family tree of 6,400 people and locating relatives all over the world; and creating and teaching multiple genealogy courses at Norwalk College, Savannah JCC, Palm Beach County Library, Palm Beach JGS and the NYC Museum of Jewish Heritage.

At JewishGen, Phyllis is the Vice President of Education, active in multiple areas, including: creator of the Education Program and teacher of on-line genealogy courses; developer of 12 KehilaLinks web pages for her ancestors’s shtetls; and creator of the online version of the 1891 Galician Business Directory.

In 2000, Phyllis created and managed the first ever Computer Education Lab at the International Jewish Genealogical Conference held in NYC.  Phyllis is married to Gary Gumbrecht, and lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and New York City.  She finds genealogy to be challenging, stimulating, fascinating and absorbing.

Susana Leistner Bloch — Director of KehilaLinks

Susana Leistner Bloch, a Canadian, was born in Brazil, has lived in Israel, England and South Africa.  Susana also manages our International Desk.

On a personal level, she coordinates two regional research groups with over 1,100 members: Kolbuszowa Region Research Group and Suchostaw Region Research Group, producing two extensive websites of 280 KehilaLinks pages which serve as a memorial to the destroyed Jewish communities and as a current and future research tool.

Her published articles appear in several genealogical publications including The Galitzianer, East European Genealogist, Dorot, Roots-Key, and Chronicles.

Vivian Kahn — Director of Hungarian Research

Vivian Kahn is the liaison to JewishGen's Special Interest and Research Groups.  In this capacity, she provides information to SIG leaders on JewishGen policies and administrative procedures and provides input to JewishGen management on their interests and concerns.  Vivian is the Hungarian SIG Coordinator, moderates the H-SIG discussion list, and has been working with Mailing List Manager Dick Plotz on developing guidelines for JewishGen's discussion lists.

Since 1992, when she began investigating her Hungarian roots, Vivian has made presentations on family research to groups in the San Francisco Bay area and at IAJGS conferences.  When she isn't engrossed in family research, Vivian works as a land use planning consultant and teaches land use planning for University of California extension programs at Berkeley, Davis, and Los Angeles.  She was Deputy Director and Current Planning Manager for the City of Berkeley's Planning and Development Department and served as a member of the American Planning Association's national board from 1994 to 2002.

Vivian is a native of New York City and a graduate of the City College of New York.  She also studied at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Pratt Institute School of Architecture's Department of City and Regional Planning.

Nolan Altman — Director of Research (JOWBR, Memorial Plaques & Holocaust Database)

Mr. Altman, a NY CPA, is currently the president of NTA Consulting, a financial services consulting firm specializing in hedge fund and asset management firms.  Prior to that, he served 8 years as CFO for the hedge fund complex at Tiger Management and for 16 years before that, Financial Services audit partner at Seymour Schneidman & Associates (subsequently merged into Anchin, Block and Anchin, LLP).  He currently serves on a number of hedge fund and philanthropic Boards.

Mr. Altman was bit by the "genealogy bug" when he was inspired to write his family history in 1996 in memory of his mother.  As Coordinator for JewishGen’s Holocaust Database and the JOWBR projects, Mr. Altman works with volunteers from around the world helping to grow both databases for the benefit of family members and researchers.  He has also made presentations and conducted computer workshops at the IAJGS annual conferences in Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago.  He continues to present his "How to Document and Research Your Family History" seminar to adult and continuing education classes as well as university Holocaust and European history classes.  Mr. Altman has had articles published in Avotaynu, Dorot, Stammbaum, Shemot and the FEEFHS Journal.  He is a Board member and Treasurer of the JGS of Long Island, where he coordinates their Yearbook Project and is also a member of the JGS of New York.

Support

Richard Plotz — Mailing List Manager

Dick Plotz has been fascinated by genealogy since seeing a family tree at his grandmother's cousins' club in 1963 and meeting an actual third cousin.  He has expanded his own and his wife's family trees in all directions, and estimates that they now include about 20,000 names; he has met many of these cousins.  He particularly appreciates being able to tell people that his wife is related to Hedy Lamarr.

In real life he is a pathologist. This means that he sits at a microscope and looks at slides; it's been more than 20 years since he performed an autopsy.  Pathology and genealogy are related in that they both involve solving puzzles... and Dick's other consuming avocation is, what else? Solving puzzles.  He is active in the National Puzzlers' League, where he goes by the nom de plume "Geneal", and is the proud recipient of a trophy as best rookie from Will Shortz's crossword mini-competition held each year in Pleasantville.

Iris Folkson — Support

Iris Folkson is the Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) project coordinator, Manager for all our mailing lists, and general technical support person for JewishGen projects.  Iris has worked with computers since 1981, starting with the Apple II and switching over to PC compatibles in 1992.  She is proficient in trouble shooting both hardware and software.  Iris is employed at a New York City law firm as a Controller and Manager of In-house Systems (MIS).  She found JewishGen in 1995 and volunteered to help out a bit and since that time has been involved with many aspects of JewishGen.

Gary Sandler — Networking & Systems Support

Gary Sandler has been a computer guy for over 30 years.  His interest in genealogy sprang from his curiosity about whether he was related to the actor Adam Sandler (so far, no).  He has been applying his obsessive compulsive behaviors to researching and documenting his Russian, Lithuanian and Polish roots for over nine years.  In 2006 and 2007, Sandler worked with Steve Morse to create the "Gold Form" for searching Ellis Island passenger records.


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