Arts and Culture | Local

Local genealogist to reveal how shtetl film helped him discover family history

Joel Alpert with the English translation of a Yizkor book memorializing a lost Jewish community in Ukraine

Local publisher and genealogist Joel Alpert has expanded his credentials to include sleuth. On Friday, April 13, in a Jewish History Museum gallery chat at 11:30 a.m., he will reveal how he unraveled family mysteries, reconnecting people and events, through research. Focusing on a 70-year-old black and white film that was almost lost to the world, Alpert pieces together a puzzle that reveals his Lithuanian family roots and links families that had been separated for more than 50 years.

Alpert will present “Unraveling My Family’s Holocaust Mysteries Through Film,” featuring original 1927 footage of life in a Lithuanian shtetl (Jewish village). Through what he calls “seemingly miraculous happenstance,” he presents an eye-opening story that weaves together people, events and history, connecting strangers and families in Lithuania, America and Mexico.

The film can be previewed at the entrance to the Holocaust History Center at the Jewish History Museum and inside the Tucson Jewish Community Center. For more information, call the museum at