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1.31.14 Issue

by Sherrie Saag, Communications, Jewish Federation of Omaha

The countdown began last September when over 15 different committees dug into the planning and prepping for the first ever Omaha Jewish Reunion, taking place Sept. 12-14, 2014.

Save the date and make plans to be in Omaha for a weekend filled with reunion worthy events. Whether it’s your birthplace, your childhood home, or your current mailing address, plan to join the community and celebrate Jewish Omaha.

The Tours and Exhibits committee, chaired by Renee Corcoran, is one of the many committees with activities and plans already in place. “Our group has been meeting regularly and quickly planned out what we wanted to do. The members are really wonderful, with great ideas and a sincere willingness to accomplish the planning for our guests next September,” said Corcoran.

Committee members include: Rocky Stern, Howard Epstein, Debbie Josephson and Janey Dann.

In additional to campus tours running continuously Friday and Saturday afternoon, Marty Shukert will conduct a Friday morning tour of the three new Synagogue buildings,  Beth El, built in 1991 at 14506 California Street, Beth Israel, built in 2004 at 12604 Pacific Street and Temple Israel, built in 2013 at 13111 Sterling Ridge Drive.

Borsheims 1938

Borsheim’s Jewelry and Optical, 17th & Farnam Streets, 1938. Credit: the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society

Janey Dann, affiliated with The Durham Museum, will head an afternoon tour to include aspects of the Durham Museum’s popular Millionaires & Mansions North and South Tours. This tour covers the areas both north and south of Dodge Street in mid-town Omaha. Sights may include the Mercer Mansion, home of Dr. Sam Mercer and Joslyn Castle, the beautiful residence of George and Sarah Joslyn. Key landmarks south of Dodge Street include the Blackstone Hotel, the Storz Mansion and the home of Arthur and Zerlina Brandeis.

Friday afternoon tours are planned for additional neighborhoods around the Omaha metropolitan area. One includes Dundee, The University of Nebraska Omaha and Aksarben Village. A second will take reunion attendees to the “new” West Omaha, Village Point, The Shops at Legacy and residential neighborhoods The Ridges and West Dodge Station.

Sue (Friedman) Millward, President of the Board of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society for the past two years, has a plan for a special exhibit during the reunion weekend.

According to Millward, “We are all inter-related in some way.” Perhaps no one knows that better, as Millward has spent the past four years expanding her family tree that began in Omaha five generations ago with her great-great grandfather Louis Krasne.

“Louis had five sons and three daughters. My mother, Thama Lee Krasne Friedman, and cousin, Shirley Bernstein Kulakofsky, created the initial branch of the family tree, beginning with Louis. I wanted to expand it and add additional branches with aunts, uncles and cousins. My interest in genealogy grew from there, and I often found myself conducting research at the Historical Society. It was amazing how much information they had in their files, more than I ever expected to find.” said Millward.

Her desire to spark local interest in genealogical history has led to the creation of the Ancestral Community Outreach Project, generously funded by the Special Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation.

Harry and Elizabeth Dolgoff Lewis with sons Gary, Marshal and Denny, 1955.

Harry and Elizabeth Dolgoff Lewis with sons Gary, Marshal and Denny, 1955.

This project will be a visible part of programming at the Omaha Jewish Reunion. In addition to prominent displays throughout the JCC Gallery, the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society will have an interactive booth set up for attendees to do some of their own genealogical research.

Reunion-goers are encouraged to bring their own family photos with them. Computer access will allow them to scan the photos right into the Historical Society’s database, so they are made a permanent addition to the Carl Frohm Archival Center. Photos like the one of the Dolgoff Lewis family in 1955, seen on the left.

Millward is hoping that, through the database, people may even be able to identify those in the photos that remain unidentified. “We envision a really user-friendly, inter-connected display, where the Omaha Jewish community can add to

their archives and our guests will discover new things about family and friends.”

“We hope to attract people to their familial histories with an interactive, engaging and helpful presence in the JCC Gallery all weekend long. Everyone should plan on bringing photos along with them to the Reunion,” she added.

Help all the committees and volunteers by passing along word of the Omaha Jewish Reunion to family and friends near and far! Forward the contact information of your connections to either Patty Nogg, Chair of the Outreach Committee at or Mary Bernstein at