This Year in Jerusalem Part 1

So this year we are in Jerusalem for the 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. A shorter than usual conference, as the lectures start on Monday morning and finish on Friday morning but still enough lectures, workshops, receptions and other events to keep anyone busy for months if you were able to do them all. Before the conference was due to start, the organisers had arranged for several trips to historic sites in Israel, such as Masada, Caesaria and the Old City of Jerusalem. There was also a Shabbaton that many people took advantage of, involving meals and talks being taken together in the hotel.

My own experience of the conference started before the Shabbaton, with IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) business in the form of the IAJGS Board meeting on Friday morning. Other IAJGS activity has included keeping track of representatives from the many Jewish Genealogical Societies who will attend the Annual meeting on Wednesday afternoon and also the Presidents Reception on Monday evening.

Today has been about registration for the conference, which due to computer problems, didn’t go as smoothly as we would have liked. There was a long delay while the problem was fixed but eventually registration started and people got their badges, bags and bits and pieces. During the delay I ended up helping on the hospitality desk in the hotel lobby. This involved giving people ribbons with titles on them, such as First Timer, Volunteer, Speaker, Expert, JGS President. The objective seems to be how many of the ribbons you can justify having. Currently, I have reached 9 ribbons and may be in the lead! Oh, that is a bit sad really. Other people working on the hospitality desk included my wife Jeanette Rosenberg and Susan Edel, an ex-UK person. We had the chance to meet so many people that we all know from other conferences, Special Interest Groups, Discussion lists and general reputation. I met many of the people who will be at the Annual Meeting and Presidents Reception and many, many old acquaintances.

My start tomorrow will be very early, with a 7.30 a.m. meeting with people who come from locations without an existing Jewish Genealogical Society. The aim is to try and enthuse people to start new societies. Being in Israel, with many people attending from Eastern Europe, we hope that we may get some new groups in places like Poland and Hungary.

Following on from the first meeting, we will have the start of the full business of the conference. Thinks will then be a hectic whirl, moving from talk to talk, event to event, conversations in corridors, learning new things and then learning more new things.

The programme highlight tomorrow for me will be the United Kingdom session at 9.15 a.m. where the Jewish Communities and Records – UK Webmaster, David Shulman, will talk about the website and its value to others. JCR-UK ( is our repository for information and records about UK Jewish communities from Scotland down to Cornwall and further beyond. If you have never looked at the site and have Jewish ancestors or family who were in the UK, you should go there right now.

So now to bed and up and early tomorrow morning.

Mark Nicholls



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