Aug 8, 2023

International Jewish Genealogy Organization Announces 2023 Awards; Winners Are From the US, Canada, Israel and Ukraine

The IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) announced its 2023 award recipients at its 43rd annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy held in London this month.  Winner are:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Vivian Kahn, California, US; and Henry Wellisch, Toronto, Canada

Nolan Altman Volunteer of the Year:  Alex Krakovsky, Ukraine

Member of the Year:  Santa Cruz Jewish Genealogical Society, California 

Stern Grant, International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and the Paul Jacobi Center, Israel

Background on winners:

Lifetime Achievement Award:  Vivian Kahn

Vivian Kahn of Santa Rosa, CA  was selected as a recipient of the 2023 IAJGS  Lifetime Achievement Award 

Vivian’s efforts as JewishGen’s Hungarian Research Director have enabled the indexing of over 1.5 million Jewish records from Greater Hungary, all freely accessible to the community on JewishGen.  Her creation of relationships with archivists and her ability to recruit and mentor volunteers has enabled researchers with Jewish ancestry from Greater Hungary to gain insight into their families from a broad variety of documents over centuries.  Her knowledge of historic Hungary allowed her to focus efforts in the most fruitful areas, and also has allowed her to educate others at IAJGS conferences.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Henry Wellisch

Henry Wellisch of Toronto was selected as a recipient of the 2023 IAJGS  Lifetime Achievement Award 

Henry is a former president of JGS Toronto and was integral to the startup of the Montreal JGS.  His volunteer transcription efforts not only helped researchers with Toronto-based ancestors, but he has been, and continues to be, an avid transcriber for JewishGen’s Hungarian Research Division. He has regularly shared his knowledge with the greater genealogical community, speaking at IAJGS conferences and to local societies.  He has personally mentored others who have become leaders in the Jewish genealogy community.

Nolan Altman Volunteer of the Year – Alex Krakovsky

Alex Krakovsky of Kyiv, Ukraine,  was selected for the Nolan Altman Volunteer of the Year Award. 

The Award is in recognition of his work making millions of Ukrainian Jewish records digitally accessible to researchers across the world.  His tenacity in suing archives –and later teaming with them to place digital scanners within their facilities –has ensured preservation and public availability of these records and has revolutionized the ability to do genealogical research in Ukraine, regardless of researchers’ geographic location.  These documents not only give insight into individual researchers’ family members, but they also give historic insight into the Jewish communities of Ukraine as far back as the late eighteenth century.

Member of the Year – Santa Cruz Jewish Genealogical Society

The Santa Cruz Jewish Genealogical Society was selected for the IAJGS Member of the Year Award. 

The Award recognizes Santa Cruz JGS  for its outstanding efforts to create a society that is accessible to members around the world.  Faced with the challenge presented by launching a new society during the height of the pandemic, the Santa Cruz JGS embraced technology and was able to thrive.  The breadth of programming, as well as personalized mentoring and additional resources, give their geographically diverse membership resources to help improve members’ research abilities, regardless of skill level.

Leah Kushner is president of the Santa Cruz JGS.

Stern Grant -International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and the Paul Jacaobi Center

The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center ( was awarded the 2023 Stern Grant at this year’s 43rd Annual IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, as hundreds of genealogists from the U.S and all over the world descended on London, England for the event. 

The project is “Walking Among Colors: The Jewish Cemetery in Zdunska Wola, Poland”.  Its purpose is to prepare and publish a detailed book about the Jewish cemetery in Zdunska Wola.  The cemetery, dating from 1825, currently includes 3505 tombstones, which makes it one of the largest surviving cemeteries in Poland.  It is distinctive in having many colored tombstones – hence the title of this project.  Grant funds will support the printing of 300 copies of the book to be distributed to the Jewish descendants of the town as well as to the local Historical Museum and to interested current residents of Zdunska Wola.

Leading the project will be Prof. Daniel Wagner and Dr. Kamila Klauzinska.

The Stern Grant honors the late Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern, widely considered to be the Dean of American Jewish genealogy, and his efforts to increase the availability of resources for Jewish genealogical research.

This is the first time since 2019 that the conference was held in person and the first time since 2001 that professional and amateur genealogists will have gathered in London. 

The Conference is hosted by IAJGS, an umbrella organization of nearly 90 Jewish genealogical organizations worldwide.  The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain is the local co-host.  

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

The JGSGB aims to promote and encourage the study of and research into Jewish Genealogy and is the only Jewish Genealogical Society in the United Kingdom.  Find us at, on Twitter at @JewishGreat, or on Facebook at