Category Archives: IAJGS

IAJGS 2014

IAJGS 2014 is finally over. What a busy time it’s been. As co-chair of the conference, I had a lot of work to do, from overseeing all of my local volunteers in addition to some non-locals, covering for people who didn’t get their job done well, and taking care of a huge job that we didn’t think we’d have to do at all. And most of that took place in the last month.

All in all, the conference went really well. I was impressed by how much some of my local people stepped up. I had already seen some evidence of it, and seen some evidence of problems, but some came through much more than I had expected.

Many people told me how great they thought the conference was going, many thought there were no problems at all. Of course, from behind the scenes, I knew about the problems.

I especially appreciated how many times my co-chair, Hal Bookbinder, and the IAJGS president, Marlis Humphrey, thanked me for all the work I put into it. I’m glad they noticed. That last month before the conference, I got no client work done; too busy with the conference preparations.

I’m not complaining. I was the one who bid on the conference coming to SLC. I volunteered to be co-chair. I put my name on the conference and I had to make sure things were done well. And so I did. I learned a lot about how the IAJGS conference comes about and plenty about where improvements are needed.

I only attended four sessions and I dropped in on a few SIG meetings but never stayed long. Of course, I was in both of my sessions and one that I facilitated. My facilitating job came on Friday. Sadly, the speaker just read her slides, and they had lots of text. She had a great story and it could have been a fantastic presentation, but she skipped past all the genealogy parts of it too quickly, just barely letting us glance at the records she found. I also sat in on Josh Taylor’s session about attracting the younger generation to our societies. It reminded me of things I’ve heard him say before, or I’ve heard elsewhere, or thought of myself, and how much work it will be for me to try to do that without any help from my society members.

I’m really hoping that after all the work they did for this conference, my UJGS members will be willing to step up for our society. So far, they have done little to nothing for the society. But it gets tiring to run a society by yourself, especially after helping to run a whole conference. I hope they aren’t volunteered-out and we can make our society greater than it is. Now that I know they can put in the effort, I really hope they do.

And I look forward to getting back to my normal routine, getting some client work done, blogging more, etc. I have a lot of catching up to do.

IAJGS 2013 – All Done

I blew off the one session I might have gone to on Friday and headed out to Boston. It was raining. The first weekend, I walked the Freedom Trail, save for one of the earliest stops. (Some years ago, for NaNoWriMo, I had written my characters walking the Freedom Trail, so I knew I had to do that.) I visited an interesting book store with Hal Bookbinder where we flipped through some old atlases, had lunch, then finished the Trail at the Massachusetts State House, where we took the tour. I especially remember some of the fun things, like where we get the expressions “costs an arm and a leg” and “red tape”. I also liked the stories about the Sacred Cod and the Holy Mackerel. Hal and I walked along to visit the Cheers bar, then through the Boston Common back to the hotel. It rained the whole time.

My last 24 hours in Boston included a walk-by of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (when it was closed). I visited the Mapparium and walked through the Boston Public Library. The BPL has one architectural tour per day and I had missed it, so I just walked around a bit.

Thus ends another year of IAJGS conference. Next year is my conference. We will be in Salt Lake City and I am one of the co-chairs. I have a lot of work to do this coming year.

I leave you with some pictures.

IAJGS 2013 – Thursday

I began Thursday by showing up a little late to David Kleiman’s Early American Jewish Research. It was kind of what I expected, telling me to use the kind of records the non-Jewish researchers usually use for US research.

The next session I had chosen was a full room and became a closed session. They should have known, with a title like Life In Ukrainian Jewish Shtetlach, they’d need a bigger room. I only saw two instances of full rooms, but I wasn’t checking up on the whole conference.

After lunch, the Webmasters’ Roundtable, though listed as Society Webmaster BOF, was held. It was a small group where we sat around a table and discussed issues with web sites. I stuck around to have an extended chat with two people and missed the next sessions.

The gala banquet was that evening. I hadn’t even bought a ticket in advance, but someone offered me one for half price. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to sit with the people I have in the past, so I met some new people at a table that ended up in the back of the room. This year, the banquet was organized┬ámuch better than Paris, with the entertainment, the Zamir Chorale of Boston, and the awards not overlapping with any of the meal service. The Chorale was pretty good, but I preferred the Wednesday entertainment. However, I was also pre-biased.

IAJGS 2013 – Wednesday

Wednesday was my big day. I moved up in the world this year. My lecture was not only put in the big room, but it was broadcast live for the inaugural IAJGS Conference LIVE. I skipped the morning sessions I had marked.

I was early and killing the last half hour or so before my session when I ran into Michael Goldstein. He was still trying to reach my cousins in Israel and suggested we try calling again. He finally got through. I spoke briefly to my cousin, but we were both in bad locations on cell phones. I got her email address and happily went to my lecture.

Rehearsing several times in advance, trying to find bits to cut, every practice run of my lecture went for an hour and 20 minutes. I warned people. Not the audience, but the facilitators. I did not have a clock to watch while I spoke. I sped through a few things faster than usual because I knew I would go over time. I started the stopwatch on my phone, set it down, and couldn’t figure out where it was during he session. When I got to the last slide, I finally spotted it on the podium and noticed that it said… 46 minutes. What the heck happened to the other half hour of stuff I had to say?

I heard from plenty of people after that I did a good job, I just wonder what I did so differently. I quickly figured out something I meant to say and forgot, but that would only add a couple minutes. I must speak even faster when I have a large audience. I guess I need to practice at lightning speeds from now on to make the lectures longer.

The twitterers were trying plan a tweet-up after. Several of them were there and commented. Eventually I ended up in an informal Tech BOF apparently, so not quite the group I thought it was going to be.

I was later told that one guy stood up within the first ten minutes to ask a question. At least one person was silently cheering me on to ignore him. I didn’t even see him. I felt a little bad about it after, but he did have kind of a rude question. Did he really stand there for that long? I look out on a sea of faces and don’t notice much of anything specific. In a smaller room another year, I remember noticing some people come in late and being told a few left early that I hadn’t even noticed.

The ever-exciting Annual Meeting followed. Unfortunately, my joke during roll call fell completely flat. Coming from Utah, by the time it gets to me, it’s already stale. We elected some new officers, there was some interesting debate over a bylaw change.

Daniel Horowitz then did Conducting Webinars, which he required me to be at, as one of the webinar masters. He passed me the room’s computer (using his own to present), but had two attendees online in the webinar to do what he wanted from me. I actually learned more about the webinars. I had missed the entire section about sending reminder and follow-up emails.

The first evening session was Zvi Gittelman talking about The Litvak-Galitsianer Wars. I was late and sat in the back where I couldn’t see the map he had on screen. He did a lot of talking and didn’t change the slide very often when I was there. I stayed for a little while, but not very long. I did learn, interestingly enough, that I am, in fact, a Litvak, since he said that encompassed the Lomza area of Poland. Who knew? I figured someday I might find I’m a Galitsianer, since Trans-Carpathian Jews usually came from that region. Maybe I’m both.

The later entertainment, I had requested even before there was a committee for this conference. Safam was awesome. I had seen them a couple times as a kid at our synagogue. I was a little worried since the guys are getting older, but they all sounded great. They infused some great humor into the show. They started with two favorites of mine, Just Another Foreigner and World of our Fathers. I was disappointed that they didn’t do Jerusalem, but instead a newer song, Home to Jerusalem. I think the highlight was their top ten worst melodies for Adon Olam. The melodies included Amazing Grace, Danny Boy, a Christmas song (I can’t remember now which one), a couple songs from the 50s including Breaking Up is Hard To Do, and the Macarena. They even did the dance.

IAJGS 2013 – Tuesday

Tuesday began exceedingly early for me with a meeting at 7am of the committee for SLC 2014. We discussed a few things, but it was mostly just to see who else was on the committee and to be introduced to anyone we didn’t know. The only other person from Utah besides me turned out to be the only attendee who will be helping but isn’t yet assigned to a committee position.

From there, I had an important session to attend, Michael Goldstein and Find Your Israeli Family. He’s been telling me about his plans for that one for a little while now. I sent him some information about my long lost Israeli Halpert cousins two years ago for the same session. More recently, I sent him a new document and he found my cousins. He was hoping to Skype with them live, but he hadn’t gotten through to them yet on the phone. Instead, it seems he kind of glanced over what he actually did for my research. He wasn’t even very specific about what I had sent him, except to specify that though I had sent information before and he couldn’t find the family, that I continued to do the research and found more. So he didn’t reveal anything new to me during the session.

Hanging around for Ron Arons again, I finally got to see his Mapping Madness. There were some interesting things in there that I will need to check out.

The Next Generation Jewish Genealogists BOF was next. It was probably better in the past when we put the chairs around a circle to just talk to each other. I didn’t mention it in the blog post, but Newsletter Editors the day before actually did that. I got some interesting ideas, sometimes about the tech stuff, from this group.

I volunteered for the SLC 2014 table again after lunch, but that turned into a meeting with my co-chairs where we really began preparations for next year’s conference.

I basically missed the rest of the day. Writing this days later, I can’t remember what I did, but I’m sure it involved eating with friends at some point.

IAJGS 2013 – Monday

Monday was kind of a short day for me at the conference. I started the morning at Ron Arons’ Finding Living People on the Internet. He showed a lot of web sites where he looked for specific information about several people, often in professional fields. I think lectures where he tells more stories are better.

That was followed by the Newsletter Editors BOF (Birds of a Feather). I’m not a newsletter editor anymore, but I’m at least partly responsible for making this group happen. It was an informal gathering of editors and other folks that evolved into a conversation about communication methods, not just newsletters.

I volunteered to sit at the table for SLC 2014 for just about the rest of the day. Since I didn’t keep up with my blogging during the week, I can’t recall anything specific that happened. Much of these conferences turn into long blurs of everything that happened.

The evening had a different plan, as I have a cousin who lives in a suburb. I took the train out to meet a Rosenthal cousin and his wife. We had dinner and sat talking about the family. I brought along a lot of photos and showed many to them. I have to get to emailing those now.

IAJGS 2013 – Sunday

I arrived at the hotel two days before the conference began, but that is pretty typical for me. I like to get out and see a bit of the city I’m visiting. I also went to the IAJGS board meeting Saturday morning for the part about next year’s conference, which I’m co-chairing. I also spent a few hours on Saturday walking the Freedom Trail, so I’ve got a bit of my touristing in (and my feet are already aching). And of course, I have spent quite a bit of time socializing with the people I have encountered.

According to my schedule, I could have slept in on Sunday, but that doesn’t seem to be in my repertoire for at least a month now. But I suppose that’s good for this week, since I’ll wake up (unwillingly) early every day and have more conference time to spend. (I’m currently using this early morning time for this blog post.) I found that we had a table set up for IAJGS and SLC 2014, so I grabbed our boxes and set us up. I still had to get other materials from a couple people, but that would happen soon enough.

I went to the IAJGS-sponsored session about managing a society and got a few more ideas to try for UJGS. I go to this session every year. Do I forget to try things or do they have new ideas each year? I think it’s a combination of both.

That was really the only regular session on my schedule for the day. Soon after, I was at the Presidents’ reception. Hal and I handed out SLC2014 pins to the other attendees, then we had a break before the opening session.

The keynote was given by Aaron Lansky. In typical fashion, I didn’t even try to find out who he was in advance and was pleasantly surprised to hear his stories of the Yiddish Book Center and how he saved a million books describing so much about Jewish culture beginning around the 1850s.

And that brings me to Monday morning, and it’s about time for me to start getting ready for Monday at IAJGS.

Packing for IAJGS 2013

I am currently midway into packing for the IAJGS conference in Boston. The past month has been hectic with client work and preparing for my lecture, which will be Wednesday morning and broadcast as part of IAJGS Conference LIVE!

But all this means that I have fallen quite a bit behind with my client research and my blogging. Sadly, WDYTYA has just started up a new season. I desperately wanted to finish all the previous season Nitpicker’s Versions, but had no time. I wrote the blog post for the Kelly Clarkson episode, but broke a rule and must edit. (I did research. That can put me into a vicious cycle of researching what did not air on the show and keep me busy for weeks.) Perhaps I will get that edited and posted while I am in Boston, but other episodes will not get done until I return home from the conference. This means I am already falling behind this season.

I do plan to blog from the conference, so my readers can look forward to that. As I did in Europe, I will only be bringing my Androids. Unlike Europe, I should have a working keyboard so typing is easier.

My ride will be here in three hours to take me exceedingly early to the airport, so I must get back to packing. I haven’t been in Massachusetts since Camp Ramah in 1984. Almost time to go!

Europe 2012 – Day 25 – IAJGS Day 4

I took my time getting to the conference with only a late morning session planned. Alla Chastina spoke about records in the Moldova archives. She showed a lot of interesting examples of documents in her slides, but her accent was thick and she read her comments quickly, and I couldn’t concentrate enough to understand much of what she said. But it definitely looked like she had found a lot.

The annual meeting was scheduled for most of the afternoon. The meeting didn’t go the entire scheduled time, but the session I missed because of it was at the beginning.

With trouble finding a dinner companion, I wandered a bit, ending up in the hotel and eating with new friends – I had just met one and the other two I only met then.

This conference was quite short and fell somewhat short of expectations. I was lead to believe that at least one reason it was shorter was because of the translations. All sessions were supposed to be bilingual, but translations only happened in a few rooms. There were some other screwy things they did, like ultra short sessions and no breaks between them.

But I still had fun, saw old friends, made new ones, lost plenty of sleep, and maybe learned a little more about genealogy.

Europe 2012 – Day 24 – IAJGS Day 3

I didn’t see much of interest in the morning, so I went for a walk in a large garden nearby. I saw the Eiffel Tower from a distance, but there it was.

I returned to the conference for the Sub-Carpathia SIG meeting and had an extended conversation with the organizer. He’d been wanting to meet me since hearing about my success in Uzhgorod, without realizing he’d already met me. I learned some secret information from him.

I missed a lecture I thought I’d go to and almost forgot about the Professional Genealogists’ group, which was about as expected.

That was followed by the banquet. I arrived late and hadn’t specifically told someone to save me a seat. How was I to know I’d be so late? It’s not like I planned that. I had to start the last table in the room, but my cousin soon rescued me when someone left and made room at his table. Many interesting conversations ensued.