Category Archives: IAJGS

Europe 2012 – Day 23 – IAJGS Day 2

I went to an interesting lecture about Halacha and Ethics presented by Rony Golan. It was interesting to hear a different perspective about keeping unsavory information from clients, not because you think they might not want to know about the scandal, but because the wrong kind of scandal can essentially curse a Jewish family for generations because of one person’s actions. Although he presented a couple of cases, he didn’t give answers.

The Poland track was in the afternoon. Yale Reisner spoke about the Applied Science, which he described (I’m paraphrasing here) as the part of the research that affects the living. He told stories of people contacting the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw thinking they were the only survivors, and discovering they weren’t.

Other sessions were very beginner level, so my interest waned.

The Bessarabia SIG meeting was later and listening to a long lecture about all the projects didn’t interest me, so I left early. I was practically greeted outside the door by a DNA cousin  – he wasn’t going anywhere, just randomly wandering. He is one of my two close matches, second or third cousin (we can’t find the connection) and we hung out the rest of the night.

Heading to dinner, we picked up a couple more people and had good company for dinner, the klezmer music, and “drinks” until the morning.

Europe 2012 – Day 22 – IAJGS Day 1

Welcome to the IAJGS 2012 conference from Paris, France.

I don’t have much to say about the first day since I didn’t go to any sessions except the opening one. I’ve seen a lot of people I know and met some new ones already.

I found out that I was on the same flights as Alex Dunai and his wife. I thought it might have been him, but my distance vision is getting worse and I wasn’t about to approach strangers in Ukraine if I was wrong – how could I explain it to them?

French is definitely easier to deal with than Ukrainian, so that’s a nice change.

Europe Research Trip, Summer 2012

Well, it’s finally happening. I have booked my flight to Europe. Since I procrastinated enough, the trip is coinciding with the IAJGS conference, thus, I’ll be finishing my European tour there.

My whirlwind tour of Europe will be to all of my ancestral locations, as much as I know them now. I’m obviously hoping to find more when I’m there. In Poland, I will be researching in Kalisz for my Halpert and Szleper families, Rutki for my Mularzewicz family, Wizna for my Kurlender family, and Lomza for records for the two. In Ukraine, my family is from Mukacheve, Kopynivtsi, and Zubivka. And in Moldova, my family was from Otaci (Ataki) and there are a few records in the capital of Kishinev.

European Research Trip, Summer 2012

Yes, there is a bit of distance between those locations. I think my biggest challenge, besides the languages, will be getting to Moldova. The trains in Ukraine seem a little screwy. I hope they’re not as complicated as they seem online.

For quite a while, I have been trying to learn Polish. At this time, I have found a really great method to learn to speak Polish, but I don’t know that I’ll be any good at understanding when other people speak Polish. I might also go through the Russian version of the same method before I get there; I have it ready to go.

This is my first venture to Europe, besides the week in England when I was 12. I’ve never been to these archives and I’m not sure what I will find. I certainly hope everything works out well and I get access and find the records that I need. Although cautious about it, I am willing to take on some client work, especially to help pay for the trip. If you need research in any of these locations or others along the way, contact me and we’ll see if we can work something out. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll be going back again in the future.

SLC 2014 – Planning Begins

I had a couple of meetings this week with Hal Bookbinder and Michael Brenner, my co-chairs for the IAJGS conference in 2014 in Salt Lake City. I met up with them at the Hilton for a tour of the facility, to refresh our memories from the 2007 conference held there. They were running late, so I joined them for lunch first. After the tour, we discussed many details and brainstormed quite a bit. Hal and Mike were the co-chairs for the 2007 conference, and I was involved as Resource Room coordinator, so we all have many things still relatively fresh in our minds from that conference.

We discussed asking some of the specific volunteers to step up again in their jobs because they did good the last time, and we discussed using different volunteers for some other things because of the things they had done since 2007. I learned a lot more about what goes on behind the scenes to plan a conference.

Some of the things we discussed, I responded with, “if all goes well with UJGS…” A few days earlier, UJGS had our first board meeting. Ever. All three of us. So my small board is now aware of our goal of pushing for more local membership and some of the ways we want to go about doing that. With our plans, hopefully we’ll have a few volunteers in our society who already have some of the contacts and experience to step into these conference supporting roles with almost no extra effort.

The next morning, we had a meeting at the Family History Library to let them know we were coming and to coordinate a few things with them.

It feels like a good start. I finally felt like I was included in the planning. We all seem to work together well and generally agree on things. I look forward to losing giving much of the next two years to the conference.

IAJGS – Wrapping Up, Photos

I’ve meant to write this blog post for over a month. The IAJGS Conference this year was all about socializing and meetings. I spent a lot of time sitting in the hallways talking to people I knew and meeting new ones. I spent a lot of time in the Vendor Room because some of the vendors are my friends. I think the final tally was 1.5 lectures, 6 meetings, and 2 computer labs that I taught.

What did I accomplish on this trip?

1. I went to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum with my roommate, Elise. We were helped by Jo-Ellyn Decker. I remembered her from a previous IAJGS conference. She could tell that we were genealogists and computer literate, so she went over everything very quickly instead of coddling us with simple things that we already knew how to do. Of course, when she walked away, we had multiple databases open and had a hard time remembering everything she told us, so we just started searching in whatever was there. I was able to find a few things and we called her back later to help explain more. I think I need to do a little more research on doing research at the USHMM before the next time I go back.

2. I met new people and talked to a lot of people I already knew. I went to meetings of genealogists with common interests. I learned new things and brought home some new ideas. And I took notes and suggestions for the conference that will be in Salt Lake City in 2014.

3. I got to see Washington, D.C. again. The first time I was there was in 1994. It was one of my excursions during a break in my college schedule. I’m sure I drove everywhere. This time, I walked and rode the Metro. I have pictures from every side of the White House. I walked to the Lincoln Memorial (oy, my poor, aching feet; I was in pain for days). I took the architectural tour at the Library of Congress. I went to the Air and Space Museum, again, albeit quickly. I walked through the Sculpture Gardens. I saw the new World War II Memorial. And I walked past random interesting looking buildings and memorials between The Mall and my hotel.

4. I took more pictures at this conference than any previous, and yet I still wish I’d gotten a lot more. Also, many didn’t come out very good. Why is it that I can’t find a digital camera for a reasonable price that can take decent indoor shots? I did get some good ones. And lots of pictures of before and after the conference.


IAJGS – Last Day

Today’s blog post about the conference seems, well, empty. I made it down to the conference level in time for the two last sessions, but I ended up not attending any. I picked up the recording of my second lab, and learned they were supposed to record the other lab instead of mine. I could have turned off the recorder, but I let it go. So now I can listen to how it went.

Daniel bolted out of the IAJGS board meeting and I walked him to registration, I had lunch with Schelly, and returned to my room, curious when Elise was leaving. She walked into the room only minutes after I got there, and I walked her down too.

After she was gone, I headed out to see the city. I’m here until Sunday, so I have some time. I was last in Washington, D.C. in 1994.

This has been the most unusual IAJGS conference that I’ve been to in that I barely attended any sessions. I spent my time either in meetings or socializing. And I don’t feel like I missed very much. I seem to spend less time in lectures each year. I guess it’s good preparation for 2014, when I won’t have time for such things.

IAJGS – Day 5 – Blog, Gala

I was interested in an 8am session, but didn’t stand a chance to get there. I was a little late to the 9:30am, but noticed the other twitterer was there, so I skipped it figuring I could read the highlights in my Twitter feed.

So the morning was pretty much just for socializing. I visited Todd and John at FamilySearch for a little while, and Daniel, Laurence, and Schelly at MyHeritage. I then went and messed with the MyHeritage web site for a little while waiting until it was time to give my other presentation. Also, we finally received the Geneabloggers ribbons, so Schelly sent me to the business office to pick them up for her just in time to teach my workshop.

I arrived at the Mac lab to present “Start Blogging Your Family History”. Like my first, I was a little unprepared. Actually, I had agreed to cover the other lab for someone who couldn’t make it in exchange for not giving this one. But it was left in the schedule and had a few more sign-ups. But using the Mac was a challenge in itself; the Mac laptops have changed since the last time I used Mac, in high school, in 1990. Elias Savada showed up at just the right moment (or a bit after, but not too late) to help get someone’s keyboard working and help me figure out how to use the Mac. I finished my checklist at about the half way point. I was thankful that one person had lots of questions, and because I had seven people, I had plenty of time to help each one with each issue and answer their questions. I was glad when I hit two hours so I didn’t have to try to fill time anymore.

We headed down a bit early to the gala and I saw Daniel Horowitz and Garri Regev, who invited me to the “cool” table. It included those two, Laurence Harris, Schelly Dardashti (so all the MyHeritage folks), Elise Friedman found us, Michael Hoffman of JGS Great Britain, and Susan Goldsmith, who came with questions for Elise. We had a great time, enjoying the food, joking about the long lines at the buffet tables, and spilling food on each other. OK, so that last part was just me, but it made the night even more fun.

The keynote was given by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. He told the story about the Swiss bank accounts that were abandoned after the war and how a single person sifting through boxes of records at NARA found the first evidence of how much money of Jewish victims was still unclaimed.

Another night hanging out at the sports bar, and we headed back to our rooms. One more short day to go.

IAJGS – Day 4 – Multiple Meetings

My first stop this morning was the Professional Genealogists BOF meeting. It was a mostly productive meeting. We had most of the conversation the evening before while planning it. Maybe the discussion group will be used more after that, though some people are having trouble with the group.

I skipped the standing room only lecture, which I found out the best part was just the very end, and went to Daniel Horowitz’s lecture on Mobile Applications. He reviewed a few of them, and found some more interesting ones. When he got to detailed instructions about MyHeritage’s app, I went for a walk.

For lunch, I went to the Konference Kafe, where I was confronted by Bob Kosovsky. He and I are the main tweeters for this conference, and we both were at the Philly conference as well. We finally met. Daniel had asked me earlier who he was, so I brought Bob down to meet him before the next session.

And that was the Presidents’ Meeting. My computer battery died completely without warning and I didn’t snoop around enough to find electric. I was tweeting a lot and took notes which I typed up afterwards.

I returned after dinner for an evening lecture but instead hung out with the MyHeritage folks for the most part.

And that was the day. There are a lot of conversations going on that fill in the time that I’m not writing about. I may or may not make it to any lectures again tomorrow either. My other computer lab is in the afternoon and a little more preparation would be a good thing.


Today was the BOF/SIG meeting day. From what I heard, many people, including me, had to choose which meetings to go to because we were interested in things that overlapped. I opted for the Next Generation Genealogists over the Bessarabia Research Group; followed by the Sub-Carpathian SIG; the Newsletter Initiative, which is apparently over now; then the Webmaster’s Roundtable. I think I found the first and last the most interesting. There were a few people in both including me, Daniel Horowitz, and Terryn Tower. Two people from the newsletter group also went to the webmaster group. I basically skipped the JewishGen session to gossip with someone. We were sitting in the back row and someone complained when we were talking. Really, if you sit in the back, what do you expect? They specifically said that bloggers should sit in back so as not to disturb other people with their typing. So we were whispering instead.  The panel afterwards that sounded barely interesting was really some younger people trying to tell the older people… something. I didn’t stay long enough to really understand the point of it.

The first meeting, the Next Generation Genealogists, was the most interesting one. It was for people under 50, and we joked about ages. Daniel pointed out that it was good we included 40s since he just hit that, but the organizer and the consultant (Elise and I) would be out of it in three years or one if we didn’t give it a higher limit. One of our discussions was about how we were stuck in the middle. The genealogists older than us have done research the old way in the records and microfilm, while the ones younger try to do everything online and possibly have never seen a microfilm reader. Our group seems to have stepped inside both worlds and it’s kind of up to us to bridge the gap between the two. We are the ones that want more technology brought to the conference, both in sessions and in offerings like webinars. Hopefully we can start to make that happen more, if not at the next two conferences, definitely by 2014 when I will be co-chair.

I saw Ava Cohn standing up at her booth during lunch, so I grabbed her, we picked up Terryn Tower on the way, and went to lunch together. Terryn had a memorable story to tell, among all the stories we shared. She found a new method of genealogy research: research by psychic. I wasn’t watching the people around us and I wonder if they were watching while we were laughing hysterically after that story and others.

I still haven’t gotten a respectable night of sleep, and I have no doubt that tonight will continue the trend. I just hope my brain doesn’t decide to catch up on the weekend when I want to be doing research and touristy things. I can sleep when I’m back in Utah.

IAJGS – Day 2 – Socializing

This morning was kind of a bust. I did not sleep late, but was tired and didn’t make it downstairs until about 10:30, for the last morning session. I stopped in on Megan Lewis and her session about the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, but she told me it was pretty basic stuff, so I went to the Rom-Moldova SIG meeting. Quickly bored, I went to Megan’s session anyway and arrived just as she was beginning to take questions.

So I ended up in the hallway with blogger Janice Sellers. Peeva Tramiel came and sat with us, a food blogger, and I went to lunch with her. She had Weiss family from Mukacheve, and I had some Weisses who married into my Mukacheve families. She couldn’t remember details off hand if there was a match.

I eventually found where they had moved Nancy Levin’s session on becoming a Certified Genealogist. It still sounds like a lot of work to me that only other genealogists would really recognize. I already have clients who are genealogists and they don’t seem to mind that I’m not certified; they aren’t either. I might look more into it to see what you have to do in report writing and such, just to learn it, but I still don’t think I’ll bother.

And that was it. Today was more about networking and socializing. I’ve had some more extended conversations with several people that I knew previously and some I’ve met this year, including Janice Sellers, Roger Lustig, Jeannette Rosenberg. I visited both Daniel Horowitz and Laurence Harris at the MyHeritage booth, and Schelly Dardashti who wasn’t there quite as often when I was; and Todd Knowles and John Kitzmiller at the FamilySearch booth. I also had a conversation with Hal Bookbinder concerning the conference in 2014. I don’t know what will happen at the interim years, but that year will be the start of some new things if I have anything to do with it.

Tomorrow will be filled with BOF meetings. I think I’m going to bed early.