With great shock and sadness, Jewish Heritage Europe adds our voice to the many who are mourning Pamela Weisberger, whose sudden and unexpected death on September 25, after a brief illness, has robbed the world of Jewish genealogy of one of its most inspired and inspiring figures, a tireless advocate for family history research and Jewish heritage research, documentation and travel.
A longtime friend of Jewish Heritage Europe, Pamela was the president of Gesher Galicia, a non-profit organization that promotes and conducts Jewish genealogical and historical research regarding Galicia, the one-time province of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire that is today part of eastern Poland and southwestern Ukraine. One of its key projects is the posting of detailed town cadastral maps from Ukrainian and Polish archives; these maps generally show the location of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and other sites. It has also published articles on Jewish cemeteries, documentation and clean-up and restoration projects. (JHE Coordinator Ruth Ellen Gruber is on the Gesher Galicia Advisory Board.)
Gesher Galicia called Pamela its “creative force.”
She was tireless in her efforts to expand the knowledge and practice of family history research in novel ways that had enormous impacts for so many. She was gracious and fun-loving, tough, reliable, and very funny.
Pamela lectured internationally on a variety of topics related to Jewish heritage and family history and carried out both archival and on-site research; she traveled frequently, particularly to Poland and Ukraine, where she visited former shtetls, heritage sites and local archives, conducting her own research, advising others and gaining knowledge about Jewish heritage travel and tourism.
Gesher Galicia Secretary John Diener recalled:
About three years ago, Pamela asked me if I would like to accompany her on a trip to Europe to be held in the spring of 2013. The plan was to start in Vienna, then travel to Warsaw for the exciting grand opening of the newly completed Museum, and continue on to Krakow, where she was to speak at the JCC in that city. From there, we would travel to Przemyśl, before walking across the border into Ukraine. Of course, being in Ukraine, we would visit Grzymalow and Ternopil, two towns so important to our families. It was a wonderful trip, filled with adventure every day. We travelled together by train, plane, and by car, and ate wonderful meals together in amazing places that included the home of the descendant of a Polish count, a Ukrainian truck stop, and at the Dunai’s home in Lviv. On that trip, we visited about 10 different archives, and spent a fascinating few hours in the huge Vienna cemetery searching for graves of our relatives.
Other colleagues, friends and fellow family historians have posted tributes testifying to Pamela’s energy, generosity, professionalism and creativity in the field. She will be greatly missed, but her work, influence and impact will serve as a continuing memorial.
May her soul be bound up in the bond of life; may her memory be a blessing. Our deepest condolences to her family.