Category Archives: Genealogy

Israel 2015 – Day 13-14

Lea took me to a Druze village for a little shopping, then up to a church for a view. I forget the name of the church, but I have pictures to tell me later. There was a statue of Elijah, believed to be where he had to take down the false prophets. They had a compass on the ground of the lookout pointing off towards major cities and some minor ones more nearby. Unfortuantely, the sky wasn’t as clear as the day before, so we couldn’t see too terribly far.

Next up, we went north. Rosh Hanikrah was beautiful. We walked right up to the border fence with Lebanon. Some army VIPs showed up and even they went through some inspection to cross through. Then we took the cable car down to see the grottoes and the old tunnels where the British built their railroad.

We stopped in Akko on the way back where we walked through the old city and the shuk. Many shops were closed and we realized eventually that it was still Ramadan. We had lunch at Said, supposedly the best humus in Israel, certainly in Akko. (I even looked it up online.) Another unfortunate stop was at the Tunisian synagogue, which was also closed at the time, so we couldn’t go in.

I finally emailed all of my other known Israeli cousins, so we’ll see if I have a chance to meet with any of them before I leave. If not, it’s just another reason to come back again. I have a few other reasons that are piling up of things I didn’t get to do yet. I should come back more often than every 30 years.

Israel 2015 – Day 11-12

I began and ended my visit to Jerusalem by visiting the Old City and the Kotel. This time, I found an audio walking tour in an Android app. I only did the Jewish Quarter tour. There were a lot of people wandering around the quarter — I wasn’t the only tourist.

A couple hours later than I expected, I headed out of Jerusalem with Daniel and his family. He invited me to stay the night in Kfar Saba, so I would be part way to Haifa for the next day. We left so late that I got only a quick driving tour in the dark and then in the morning. Daniel traded files with me; I had the on demand files and he had the webinars, so there are now back-ups. He dropped me off at the train station on his way to work.

The train was a curiosity. Things were no longer bilingual, for the most part. I got to the platform, which was loaded with IDF soldiers. There was an announcement in Hebrew and the place cleared out. Soon, everyone was on the opposite side. I realized I had to switch sides quickly to not miss my train; had it not been a few minutes late, I would have had a long wait for the next one. Then, when I should have had about 7 minutes to transfer trains, it was more like 2 minutes, and the elevator was slow. But I got on my train and headed up to Haifa. I called my cousin along the way and she showed up a little bit after me.

At her home, I walked Lea through some of the Halpert family tree before we stopped for lunch. She was writing it all out in Hebrew. She then took me out to see the Bahai Garden and Elijah’s Cave, among a few other views in Haifa. The whole lot of us went out for falafel for dinner. I went to bed early, waking up early too, but I got some pretty decent sleep.

My cousins are nice. The only problem is that they like the heat. I had this issue all last week with Emily. When I was barely comfortable, she was freezing. It’s going to be a warm week.

Israel 2015 – Day 9-10 – IAJGS Day 4-5

Thursday was very busy for my conference schedule. Unfortunately, the sleep deprivation caught up to me. After waking up very early and going to breakfast, I just could not stay awake. I missed the whole morning. I showed up in time for lunch and didn’t go to that either. The only session I went to was the Professionals BOF. A good sized group of us sat around two tables and discussed some interesting issues about running our genealogy businesses. It left me with some things to think about.

I briefly helped Daniel with running around to record some extra sessions by webinar. I don’t know what will happen with those, but since we didn’t have the majority of sessions being recorded, he was catching more of them. This also left me with an advantage. As the IAJGS webmaster, I will have access to all of the recorded and on demand sessions, so I can watch them later after missing them during the week.

I didn’t sign up for a table for the banquet, but I know people. I asked to sit at table 1 and was allowed, but opted for 19 right next to it and sat with Daniel. We’ve had a good time at the banquet before, and since I only see him briefly twice a year during genealogy conferences, I try to spend as much time with him as possible. The entertainment seemed like an odd choice, a barbershop group, but once they got past the usual songs, the others were good. My mind wandered when Dick Eastman was speaking, but I got the bulk of it, and I’d already heard some of his ideas previously in the week.

Friday started too early, as does every day, but instead of jumping up for breakfast, I stayed in bed for a while lomger; it makes me feel like I’ve slept more. I had plenty of time to get to my session. I figured I should webinar myself, but when Daniel didn’t answer, I didn’t. I wasn’t sure how my new presentation would go. I had a much bigger crowd for Search As An Art in the very last time slot of the conference. I felt really good about how it went and I had lots of questions after. That one is definitely a keeper and needs to be expanded on.

Afterwards, I finally got invited to the Shabbat dinner for the IAJGS board and other VIPs that I’d been hearing about. It was really nice and gave us some time to casually chat with each other and the new CEO of FamilySearch.

Edit: This is the peril of writing a blog post late; I forgot some of it. After my session, I went out to Mahane Yehuda Market. It was a madhouse. I mostly just walked through and observed. I ended up walking back to the hotel when I meant to take the light rail. I even ended up going the long way and via Cinema City. I really wanted ice cream, but the place there was already closed.

Israel 2015 – Day 8 – IAJGS Day 3

I started the day in Non-Classified and Unidentified Sources for Genealogy with Alex Denysenko. It was a fascinating tour of records that he has come across in unusual ways, whether the archive simply hadn’t cataloged it, or it was built into the roof of a building. Some were in beautiful shape and others were almost unreadable. It doesn’t teach me anything about doing research or how I can find such records for myself, but it is interesting to see that records are still being found.

Lunch was spent with five other bloggers, including our banquet keynote, Dick Eastman. We went out to Caffit, a dairy restaurant.

The IAJGS Annual Meeting ended up taking its full three hours this year. There were some concerns. I made a fuss at one point when they probably expected it to go by smoothly, expressing my disappointment in the Stern Grant choices. This was the third time in five years that Gesher Galicia has won. As much as they do, not everyone is a galitzianer, including me, and I think the money should go to other organizations that haven’t gotten it yet. Some other people spoke up after me too, but they still got the grant.

I finished off with The Mother of All Genealogies (Genesis 10) with Prof. Aaron Demsky. This lecture looked at different types of genealogies that are listed in the bible. It was interesting. Again, it was another lecture that didn’t assist my research at all, but I guess sometimes those are needed to break up everything else. After all, I wouldn’t mind learning more history at these conferences, so this is moving in that kind of direction.

I really wanted to go back to the Old City tonight and visit the Kotel again. Today is the 30th anniversary of my bat mitzvah, which was at the Kotel. But the friends I tried to get to go with me didn’t come through. I ended up having dinner in the hotel with Marlis. I would be more upset if I hadn’t already been to the Kotel on this trip already. And I will go back again before I leave Jerusalem.

Israel 2015 – Day 7 – IAJGS Day 2

Today was a short day on lectures. I had two at a time in two time slots, but I still didn’t go to the first one at all. Both were broadcast On Demand. Conveniently, as webmaster, I will be getting all of those to put on the web site, so I can watch them later.

I went to Ask the Experts: Adventures in Archival Research in Poland, Ukraine, and Austria with Alex and Natalie Dunai. Pam Weisberger moderated, I think, a little too much. There were many questions posed in the description, but instead of answering those, they took audience questions and just barely glanced over those listed questions. I know the Dunais have information. I’m still waiting for them to provide a session that shares it. I’m usually disappointed by the lack of details they provide.

I gave my first lecture today, Insider’s Guide to the Family History Library. I timed myself to 45 minutes exactly… then finished in 32. But, this year, it was supposed to be 30 minutes, so I don’t feel bad for finishing that early. I had a small crowd, but people were told not to attend sessions that were on demand because there are no other recordings this year to buy.

And that was it for the conference itself. It was time to leave the hotel again, so I went out to the First Station with Daniel and Rose, then we walked by the Liberty Bell and Montefiore’s Windmill, ending up at an auction for a little while.

No picture today. WordPress and Androids aren’t cooperating. I wanted to share the windmill.

Israel 2015 – Day 6 – IAJGS Day 1

Time for the IAJGS Conference.

I started out in the session for New Attendees. Marlis Humphrey, as President of IAJGS, presents that. But she asks me to help, this year specifically with demonstrating the app. We had a good crowd but ran short on time.

Next, I went to Sensitive Subjects in Genealogy: What to Reveal, What to Conceal from Jane Neff Rollins. She was a Jedi level speaker, only answering the main question in the last few minutes. She wasn’t specific enough for me though, with what I should do about the big family secret that I know.

I went into Footnotes, Side Notes, and Remarks in European Vital Records with three speakers, but it wasn’t long until I was summoned by Daniel to help someone with tech support on the app. The session sounded like it might get interesting, but the parts I heard, I already knew.

Daniel asked me to the Bukovina BOF to introduce me, since I scan a lot of records for them.

Sub-Carpathia SIG was next, where Marshall Katz finally admitted publicly that he had digitized records and would get them indexed, verifying that he would never share the images. He told me this quietly in Paris a few years ago too, specifying that I didn’t need to go back to Ukraine. I still will. I want the records, not the index, and unlike him, I get permission from the archivist so I have no problem sharing the images. I recently posted the index of records I digitized in 2012 of over 1100 Mukacheve births, along with 15,000 names of the Uzhhorod 1938 Voters List on my new site, Jewish Genealogy Indexing and Research Collective.

The Keynote Session was good. Rabbi Lau spoke mostly in Hebrew but switched to English sometimes. The simultaneous translation did good. I only wish I wasn’t so tired by that time of the day.

And there was plenty of socializing and networking throughout the day and at the President’s Reception and Opening Reception.

Israel 2015 – Day 5

After joining the Shabbaton unexpectedly yesterday, today I joined a tour. I went on the Masada and Dead Sea tour.

Masada was hot. I brought back one souvenir and it’s red and all over my face and arms. So much for the sunblock.

We skipped the Dead Sea for the most part. Many people were very annoyed, including me. I was last in Israel 30 years ago. My family saw the Dead Sea but didn’t go in. I wanted to do that this time. Obviously we could see the sea on the drive, and we did convince the driver to stop so we could take pictures. But I wanted more this time.

They said that many beaches are closed because of lower water levels and a plethora of sinkholes. But one person abandoned the tour at the start and he got to go.

We stopped at the old synagogue at Ein Gedi and at Qumran, but just for the gift shop of the latter.

It was a fun trip, but I thought it would be better.

I had dinner with four friends and almost fell asleep at the restaurant.

Today’s picture is the Dead Sea.

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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.)