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Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland

Sunday November 19, 2023
Save the date for our next meeting!
Please join us virtually on Sunday November 19 at 1:30PM for Lara Diamond's presentation, "Defying Expectations: The Story of a Jewish Woman Who Took on the Russian Empire."

Zoom information will be sent out the week before the meeting to JGSMD members.

Chava Lefand (1797-1884) lived in a time when we'd expect a woman to not be well-represented in documentation. And in fact, looking at traditional genealogical documents gives little information about Chava and the life she lived. But Chava's story shows how much can be learned by looking at non-traditional documentation to learn about an individual and the context in which they lived. Chava had already lost two children to mandatory conscription into the Russian Empire, and she refused to lose another. The widowed mother filed a series of petitions throughout the 1850s which went as high as two Czars and the Governing Senate (the Russian Empire's Supreme Court equivalent). In doing this, she generated a genealogical gold mine (telling of secret marriages and where various relatives were living or hiding from the draft) and gave her perspective on family and community gossip and conflict.

While this is the talk about one woman (the speaker's 5th great grandmother), her hundreds of pages of petitions and appeals tell her perspective of how Jewish families dealt with mandatory conscription of their young children, how conscription caused strife within the Jewish community and formed a hierarchy (she felt she wasn't part of the cool kids' clique), and how relatively simple Jewish families were able to generate a significant amount of documentation in the mid-1800s.

Lara Diamond began researching her own family around 1989. She has traced all branches of her family multiple generations back in Eastern Europe using Russian Empire-era and Austria-Hungarian Empire records. Most of her personal research is in modern-day Ukraine, with a smattering of Belarus and Poland. She has done client research leading to their ancestors in many parts of the former USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and more. She is president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland and is JewishGen's Subcarpathia Research Director. She has lectured around the country and internationally on Jewish and Eastern European genealogy research as well as genetic genealogy. She also runs multiple district- and town-focused projects to collect documentation to assist all those researching ancestors from common towns. Lara blogs about her Eastern European and Jewish research at http://larasgenealogy.blogspot.com.
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News Tidbits

JGS Maryland has been reconstituted!
JGSMD had its initial meeting on Sunday August 18, 2013 to see if there was interest in the group's reconstituting. The turnout was overwhelming, with 31 people attending with only a few days' notice. Look forward to new programming over the next year!
Some of the attendees:

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