Aug 25, 2021

IAJGS Presents 2021 Jewish Genealogy Awards

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) presented its 2021 awards and grants Aug 4 at its virtual 41st International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

Recipients are:

Lifetime Achievement Award – Nolan Altman

In addition to his Lifetime Achievement Award, his local Society, the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island (JGSLI), with President Bonnie Birns, was recognized as the IAJGS Member of the Year, and JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) was recognized as Outstanding Resource. Nolan is Coordinator of JOWBR and Avraham Groll is JewishGen Executive Director.

Altman was recognized for his decades of commitment to excellence in the field of Jewish Genealogy. In leadership roles, he has served the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island as President and Treasurer, and for more than a decade, as Vice President and Board Member-at-Large of the IAJGS. Most recently, Nolan was the go-to person for new JGS presidents seeking mentorship. In these roles Nolan has guided many rising leaders in the field of Jewish Genealogy.

Nolan is admired and honored for his countless days, months and years leading major projects for JewishGen as a key member of its Leadership Team. Currently, as Director of Data Acquisition, Nolan coordinates JewishGen’s Holocaust Database, JOWBR (Burial) Database Project and Memorial Plaques Database. All of these endeavors have advanced the research opportunities for Jewish genealogists across the globe. Additionally, recognizing his lifetime work, IAJGS’s Volunteer of the Year Award was renamed in his honor.

Nolan Altman Volunteer of the Year: Russ Maurer

Russ’ accomplishments in support of Jewish genealogy are international in scope. Russ took on the position of Coordinator for Records Acquisitions and Translations for LitvakSIG, a complicated and multi-faceted job. He accepted the challenge of the Vilnius Household Registers of the LitvakSIG knowing that it was an enormous and complicated project. He managed and made outstanding progress overcoming a multitude of obstacles and challenges in this endeavor. Russ also has worked tirelessly for JRI-Poland, Gesher Galicia, the Jewish Tarnow Facebook group, projects related to his ancestral villages, and his home base, the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland.

His certificate points out, “Russ Maurer’s outstanding efforts in support of Jewish genealogy exemplify volunteerism at its finest.”

Society Member of the Year: Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island, Bonnie Birns, President

The IAJGS Member of the Year award recognizes a member Society for excellence in the following areas: innovative programming, Jewish genealogical research, use of social media, partnering with other organizations, membership growth, utilizing and advancing technology.

Examples of some of the many JGSLI accomplishments that led to this award were: doubling the number of its public presentations in spite of limitations on in-person meetings; expanding the capability to make presentations available through Facebook Live and YouTube; increasing Facebook membership by 53%, to more than 1,000 members; increasing membership to its award-winning YouTube channel by 50%; recording nearly 50,000 hits by making its YouTube library of more than 40 videos readily available to groups and individuals; providing 12 presenters for the 40th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy; photographing and indexing more than 10,000 headstones from a local Long Island Jewish cemetery for JOWBR; increasing membership from 234 to 273, a growth of 17%, including many new out-of-town members who were able to participate through the use of Zoom technology.

Outstanding Project: JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), Avraham Groll, JewishGen Executive Director; Nolan Altman, Coordinator of JOWBR

Founded in 2003 and international in scope, JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) provides an accessible database covering Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide. JOWBR links burial records, headstones and information about each cemetery where burial records exist. JOWBR currently contains more than 4 million burial records and 806,000 photos from more than 9,000 cemeteries in 136 countries.

With deteriorating headstones, rampant vandalism, and people moving far from home, the links to our past that JOWBR provides are vital in maintaining our connection to our ancestors and preserving our Jewish heritage.

JewishGen was founded in 1987 and serves as the global home for Jewish genealogy. Featuring unparalleled access to 30+ million records, it offers unique search tools, along with opportunities for researchers to connect with others who share similar interests. JewishGen is an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Find JewishGen at: and the JOWBR database at:

Outstanding Publication: Australian Jewish Genealogical Society for Kosher Koala, Dani Hashki, editor; Barbara Simon, President, AJGS

The quarterly publication was recognized for its efforts to promote passion for Jewish Genealogy, recognize and encourage engagement in research and educate its members.

Kosher Koala includes both original historical, anecdotal and research related articles by its members and news articles gleaned from other sources related to the field of Jewish Genealogy. It also provides timely information about events of interest to the AJGS community. This quarterly magazine is available digitally on the AJGS website.

The chosen name “we decided to walk a different track, an Australian bush track, with a name reflecting that we are Australian, we are Jewish, and that we live up a familiar gum tree, a menorah with pungent eucalyptus leaves.”. The distinctive logo – that koala hanging off its eucalyptus menorah — was designed by Robert Klein.

Rabbi Malcolm Stern Grant: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Global Archives, Names Indexing Project, Linda Levi, director of JDC Global Archives, and Jeff Edelstein, JDC Archives Digital Initiatives Manager

Under this grant, the JDC Archives will create database records of Jews who fled Czechoslovakia in 1968-1969 and will index 70,000 case files of Jews who were helped by JDC, the global Jewish humanitarian organization, as they left the Soviet Union, Eastern Bloc countries, and North Africa in the period 1946-1988

“We’re incredibly proud to accept the Rabbi Stern Grant. Not only will it enable us to further our indexing work and increase the chronological reach of our available resources, it will benefit countless researchers looking to connect with their family histories, especially those in the Russian-speaking Jewish community,” said Linda Levi.

John Stedman Memorial Grant: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Landsmanshaftn Collection Portal, Hallel Yadin, Archivist, Dr. Stefanie Halpern, Director of YIVO Archives

The John Stedman Memorial Grant, matched in-kind by YIVO, will support the work of two advanced interns to increase online access to YIVO’s landsmanshaftn collections. Landsmanshaftn were Jewish benevolent societies that were formed to aid new immigrants in their transition from Eastern Europe to America. The YIVO Institute stewards about 1,400 collections of landsmanshaftn records and receives more every year. While most of these records are from organizations that operated in New York City, there are also records from across the United States and the world.

The grant will enable YIVO to create a single finding aid consolidating all the landsmanshaftn collections making them more accessible to the public. The finding aid will include the town of origin, its variant spellings, and other genealogical resources from the town, as well as a description of the contents of each individual collection. Individual collections may include links to other landsmanshaftn collections at YIVO, materials which have been digitized through remote reference and digitization on demand, yizkor book links and translations from outside sources like the New York Public Library and JewishGen, and other relevant material

IAJGS is an umbrella organization of more than 95 Jewish genealogical organizations worldwide. The IAJGS coordinates and organizes activities such as its annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and provides a unified voice as the spokesperson on behalf of its members. The IAJGS’s vision is of a worldwide network of Jewish genealogical research organizations and partners working together as one coherent, effective and respected community, enabling people to succeed in researching Jewish ancestry and heritage. Find the IAJGS at: and like us on Facebook at

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