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Annual General Meeting - Tuesday Dec 4th @ 7:30 pm, Temple Shalom.

Annual General Meeting

We will be holding our Annual General Meeting on December 4, where the Chairman and Secretary will give their reports and we will elect directors. This brief meeting will be followed by

Letters from the Lost

Helen Waldstein Wilkes, Author and researcher

On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein Wilkes’s father snatched his stamped exit visa from a distracted clerk to escape from Prague with his wife and child. As the Nazis closed in on a war-torn Czechoslovakia, only letters from their extended family could reach Canada. The Waldstein family received these letters as they made their lives on a southern Ontario farm, where they struggled to make a living in their adopted country and to maintain their silence about their past.

At age 60, Waldstein Wilkes opened a small box that was left by her father in their southern Ontario home. The box held “letters from the lost” – letters from family members left behind in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. The author followed the letters’ trail back to Europe to discover that “the lost” – homeland, past and family – are an inseparable part of her. Her imaginary conversations and the search for answers as she probes beneath the surface of her own life and that of the norms and values that shaped her reality are interwoven with the letters to constitute a book that was nominated for five book awards.

Helen Waldstein Wilkes, PhD, is an energized octogenarian who has lived a richly rewarding life. Helen fled the Nazi’s with her family in 1939 and came to Canada where they struggled to adapt as farmers. Helen was educated in Canada but earned her doctorate (Renaissance French literature) in the U.S. She spent 30 years teaching and developing research interests that include cross-cultural understanding, language acquisition, and neurolinguistics.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of British Columbia (JGSBC), a non-profit organization, brings together people who are interested in pursuing their Jewish ancestry or family history. Together with the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC we try to restore the history and family links that time has erased.

While there are many resources available on the internet, their use does require some skill and training. Many traps await the unwary: name changes, spelling errors, the same name for two different people, the many vagaries of census takers, clerks and other takers of record. The difficult task of digitizing the records has led to other errors creeping in. We will help you to avoid those pitfalls and develop an accurate and descriptive family tree. If you are interested in joining us, you can pay for a yearly membership here. Any questions? – send us an email.

This site also has links to resources (including Jewish newspaper archives) that we have found useful in our research.

JGSBC is a member of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies