Category Archives: IAJGS

Israel 2015 – Day 4

The events of the IAJGS Conference have begun. There was a Shabbaton and, following instructions, I blended into the group by the end of Saturday.

I was hoping or expecting to do a couple of things, but trouble with the web site handouts meant I had some work to do. After making plans for that, I went to the Ramada hotel in the afternoon, catching a ride from Michael, where I joined the tour of the Israel Museum.

After a few hours of archaeology, history, and culture, followed by a speaker at the hotel, I headed home with Garri to fix the web site.

It was a day of seeing a small number of good friends among the conference attendees, adding on to those first visited from yesterday.

When some final evening plans fell through, Garri invited me to stay with her for the night. The offer was accepted due to the morning transportation back to the hotel. It’s good to have friends, but it’s even better to have the right friends. Among this group, I have often had the right friends to deal with several situations over the years.

No photo today, as I forgot to take one with my cell phone for this purpose.

Israel 2015 – Day 3

I wonder how long it will be until I forget what day I’m on.

I finally made it over to the conference hotel today. Rony Golan had arranged a tour of Tel Aviv for eight of us and it made for a lovely day.

First, I got see a bunch of conference people in the lobby. Then we hopped on a van and went for a drive. We had to earn our lunch by hiking up quite the hill. Then I compared our tour with a timeshare — where you earn something for free, but have to listen to a sales pitch to get it. In this case, we heard about a genealogy project to better identify and fill in the details of the lives of fallen soldiers of Israel.

The rest of the tour was spent in Jaffa and Tel Aviv. There were a few times that I wanted to get off the van to walk around and/or for pictures, but not badly enough to actually say so. It was hot and that first hike made me want to walk less. Instead, we did a lot of driving past things, but we did get out and walk in a few places, notably through Jaffa and Sarona.

While we were stopped for a late afternoon coffee break in Sarona, I had to deal with some conference stuff in my email. I connected to the free wifi available throughtout Tel Aviv at that time. I’m glad I read about that.

At the beach, we stopped by a monument to the illegal Jewish immigrants to British Mandate Palestine where we heard a great story from Rony about his father’s immigration. The short version is that he was immigrating illegally but ended up on the first ship of legal immigrants to the State of Israel.

We ended the tour at a restaurant on the beach of Herzliya for dinner. Some more conference business was taken care of with the lead co-chair of next year’s conference, Janette Silverman.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel.

I wasn’t thinking about a picture for the blog for most of the day, which has to come from the cell phone camera. I leave you with the sunset in Herzliya from inside the restaurant.

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Israel 2015 – Day 2

Michael suggested that I visit Yad Vashem today and I took his advice. It turns out that he was more correct than he realized because the main museum was open a few hours later than all other days of the week.

I took the light rail out to it’s final stop to the south and walked down the hill. There was a huge crowd of IDF soldiers already there and it was an otherwise busy day, it seemed. I went to the archive first for research. I heard a few people mention the conference while there.

Similar to my visit in DC to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. Someone got me started but they just don’t have the time to explain exactly what they’re setting me up with. One database searched the Pages of Testimony, but those are online and I don’t need to see them when I visit in person.

The other database she sent me to had ITS files indexed. I found a few unexpected records. On the first, the woman helping me was surprised to find a file where someone seemed to request information about a relative, but she couldn’t find that person’s name anywhere on the pages. I was then able to continue the search in the way that she did and I found some interesting things. I still obviously need to comb through everything, and with a German dictionary, but I will make time when I get home.

I couldn’t save the digital files. She suggested I print them and pay per page. I really didn’t have an issue paying them a little, but the files were already digitized and that’s the format I want. So she suggested I could email and ask for them. I’ll do that when I get home, but I did take around 100 photos of the pages on the screen.

About to keel over from starvation, and nodding off a little from sleep deprivation, I left the research room a bit short of them kicking me out at closing time. I had a quick bite at the cafe and walked around the grounds. I’m pretty sure there should have been about twice as much as I saw, but I’m not sure where it was. I’ll need to consult a map and possibly return for another visit later.

As I mentioned, the museum was open late and I walked through. Two things stood out to me. At one point, there is a display of three bricks from the Warsaw ghetto wall. I was there a few years ago and saw the remainder of the wall. If I recall correctly, three bricks were missing and the wall said where they were. One was at Yad Vashem, one at USHMM, and one in Australia. I wonder where the other two bricks came from.

At the end of the museum was the Hall of Names, and now I know why it is called that. Pictures always show a display overhead of photos in a conical shape up to the ceiling, but all of the walls in the room were bookshelves lined with binders, containing rhe Pages of Testimony submitted over the years. And they have room for plenty more.

No pictures were allowed in the museum, but in the Hall of Names, one guy walked in while I was there and snapped several, not even muting his phone, so I didn’t feel too bad about doing the same (but without the camera noises). He even dared to do that right in front of the security guard at the exit.

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(Those white “dots” in the back are the binder labels.)

Israel 2015 – Day 1

Today, I got to see some of Israel.

I’m staying with the IAJGS conference co-chair, so I do a bit of helping out with the conference. I have already been helping out with a few things, but now I’m sometimes helping with random jobs that need doing. I spent some of the morning doing that.

Then I headed to the Old City of Jerusalem. Another friend, Barbara, has been here for about a month taking Hebrew lessons, so I met her at the Jaffa Gate and we went for a walk. We took pictures, did a little shopping, stopped for lunch, and walked on to the Western Wall.

She has been here for a while, so she sat in the shade while I visited the Wall and took a slew of pictures. We then went to the nearby Davidson Museum, an archaelogical museum. We watched the video in Hebrew and English. The only ones in the room, we joked around quite a bit. Then we walked around the area to see what was found there.

It doesn’t sound like much when I write it here, but we took our time walking around and just enjoyed ourselves. Sometimes I might want to see so much that I’ll run around like crazy, but most of the time, I’d rather take my time and enjoy what I’m doing, which we did.

Michael was surprised by how early I got back, but it felt like a pretty good day. And I know I’ll go back, probably a few times, in the coming weeks.

I then had a quick car tour from Michael of the areas nearby his home and we went to dinner.

The app really doesn’t want to cooperate, but I think I’ve improved the method for getting a photo online over the previous post. So today, I will leave you with the Western Wall, the Israeli flag flying in front of it.

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Israel 2015 – Day 0

It’s a long flight to Israel, and I was in a middle seat. But I survived it. And my cell phone plan upgrade that dumped my data plan — the entire reason for upgrading, I got that straightened out too.

My flight landed a little early. Passport control had a long line but soon moved. I wasn’t even asked any questions. I took a sherut to Jerusalem, where my friend Michael offered to let me stay with him until the conference.

Surprisingly, I was not tired, so we went out to eat in an Arab neighborhood.

I think I slept well, though it wasn’t for long. I hope I did, because I’m in Jerusalem now and there’s a lot to do here starting today.

I leave you with the view from my bedroom window.

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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.