25 September 2015

Pamela Weisberger, z''l

Pamela Weisberger
Words are just not adequate. I've spent the afternoon in shock.

Sandy Malek of the Jewish Genealogical Society-Los Angeles, posted notice of Pamela's passing on JGS-LA's FaceBook page. Pam was their Vice-President of Programs and passed away suddenly after a brief illness on September 25, 2015. She leaves her husband, Ken Kaufman, and three children.

Pamela also leaves thousands of fans in the genealogy community: people who have benefited from her humor, wit, enthusiasm for genealogy (and life), creativity, and energy. She was a force of nature in genealogy, leading Gesher Galicia to new heights of research relevance.

Pamela Weisberger, a wholly committed genealogist, a researcher of extraordinary talent, a lecturer of great skill and originality, and a great teacher, was also President and Research Coordinator of the non-profit Gesher Galicia. Inc., international lecturer, and frequent traveler and visitor to archives in Ukraine, Poland and Austria. 

Pamela's talks were always lively and cleverly presented. I have been partial to her ability to turn a phrase in developing titles for her talks: "Chutes and Ladders: Innovative Approaches to Genealogy," "It's News to Me! Historical Newspaper Research for Genealogists," "When Leopold met Lena: Marriage, Divorce and Deception in 1892." No stodginess here! 

And although she was a Jewish genealogist, she'd developed cross-over appeal. Last year at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Salt Lake City, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society sponsored her luncheon talk, "Holly Golightly was a Nice Jewish Girl: Our Ancestors Reinvented." She also spoke at A.J. Jacobs' Global Family Reunion. A couple of her speaking proposals had been accepted for RootsTech 2016.

Pamela in the tunnel beneath the Western Wall, Jerusalem (5 July 2015 - E. Garber)
Pamela started her first career in the film industry working with director Otto Preminger - a man who would not take no for an answer. She definitely learned from that: I don't think "no" was in her vocabulary. Somehow I visualize her as part of the Andy Hardy film series: "Come on, kids! Let's put on a show!" She was frequently planning some event, whether something as large (and successful) as the 2010 International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference in Los Angeles (where she was co-chair), or as small as an invitation-only tunnel tour under the Western Wall in Old Jerusalem this past summer or dinner with an assortment of friends during a conference. 
A gathering (she arranged) at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, 5 July 2015
She was always either involved or available to be involved. A month or so ago she contacted me (since I'm on the program committee for the Seattle IAJGS conference) and offered to organize a Jewpardy game - crowd-pleasing evening entertainment - during the 2016 IAJGS. And just last week I finished reading Israel Pickholtz' new book (Endogamy: One Family, One People) and learned that Pamela and her daughter had participated in Israel's research by allowing him to analyze their DNA samples.

Pamela was generous with her time and expertise. When I was planning my trip to Ukraine several years ago, she spent an hour on the telephone with me sharing her much-welcomed and excellent advice. I did not interact with Pamela on a daily basis or even a monthly basis, but I always looked forward to seeing her at conferences.

The genealogy community - especially the Jewish genealogy community - has lost a dynamo. She had so much more to do. But, more than anything, we've all lost a good friend. We'll have to follow her example and make sure the show goes on. 
** If you would like to leave a message of condolence or remembrance, Gesher Galicia has a memorial page: http://www.geshergalicia.org/about-gesher-galicia/pamela-weisberger-in-memoriam/
In a fitting honor to Pamela's memory, her family has authorized the establishment of the Pamela Weisberger Memorial Fund, to be administered jointly by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles (JGSLA) and Gesher Galicia.

For immediate contributions, please send checks made payable to the Pamela Weisberger Memorial Fund, c/o JGSLA, PO Box 55443, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413. Or use Paypal

  For further information, see either the JGS-LA webpage or the above-mentioned Gesher Galicia memorial page.


  1. A beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. Such devastating news for our community, I can't imagine the impact on her family. Her memory is indeed a blessing.


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