Date & Time
Sunday, Jun. 2, 2024
10:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Location Heinz History Center 1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh PA, 15222
Ticketing JGS Pittsburgh members: free.
Non-members: $18 for two sessions (includes free 1-year membership to JGS-Pittsburgh)

Lara Diamond leads two dynamic sessions on Jewish genealogy.

First Session 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

“Jewish Genealogy 101”

This talk gives a comprehensive overview of genealogy resources available for Jewish genealogy. The presentation will include online sources and documents not yet online for both the United States and Europe; she will also cover some basic knowledge critical to researching one’s Jewish roots.

12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Break (no lunch provided)

Second Session 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

“Defying Expectations: The Story of a Jewish Woman Who Took on the Russian Empire.”

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 here 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.

This program is possible through the generous support of the William M. Lowenstein Genealogical Research Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation.


“Jewish Genealogy Day” is a collaboration between the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh and the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center. Please register online. The program is free for JGS-Pittsburgh members. Non-members can attend both session for $18, which includes a free one-year membership to the JGS. To become a member of the JGS-Pittsburgh and receive a free membership code for this program, please visit its website.

This program will be recorded and made available to current JGS-Pittsburgh members.


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. Please learn Lara’s blogs about her Eastern European and Jewish research here.