This Year in Jerusalem Part 3

So, the story continues about the conference. Some conferences don’t always work smoothly and this one is no exception. Some of the issues are about expectations of the attendees not being met and others are simply that things go wrong or are disorganised. I seem to think that a lot of the main issues that people have spoken and written about are about things not meeting expectations. Having been to Israel many times I know that there are big cultural differences in local attitudes and actions from those at home and I see the problems people experience being down to the cultural gap. Despite the fact that there have been complaints about the conference organisation, the content has continued to be top-drawer. Despite the speakers having to fit lots of information into shorter time slots than usual, they have delivered knowledge, insight and understanding to often complex subjects. As at every conference I continue to learn new things. One thing that I learned today was that Austria did not have civil registration of marriages until the 1930s. Prior to that all records were kept by the religious bodies and then transcribed to central registers. The transcriptions could take place many years after the actual event. This would of course create issues with how accurate a marriage record would be. Knowing this information would make me be far more careful about taking an Austrian marriage record as completely accurate than say a UK marriage certificate from the 1900s. This is what genealogy conferences are all about. We don’t know everything ourselves and listening and talking to others is important.

Missionary statement over now! Now back to the day job. Today (Tuesday 7 July), we got up late as we planned not to attend an early session. I finished off my blog posting for 6 July before going to breakfast. At breakfast we were joined by Bernard and Thea Valman and as many readers will know, I hope, Bernard was until last year the editor of JGSGB’s journal Shemot. An excellent editor though very, very modest about his achievements with Shemot. 10.00 a.m. saw Jeanette and I meeting with the leaders of JewishGen to discuss Special Interest Group issues, Jeanette being a Director of GerSIG (German SIG) and me as Co-ordinator for the UK SIG, aka JCR-UK. We talked about some general issues relating to SIG operations and finances. David Shulman, JCR-UK webmaster met with JewishGen at 11.30 to talk about the value of using the JCR-UK website model for other locations outside of Eastern Europe and the USA. David’s enthusiasm and belief in JCR-UK are wonderful. I hope that with support from colleagues in JGSGB and JewishGen he can achieve his vision. I did attend a session on Hungarian records at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, as I don’t know much about records for Hungarian Jews and hoped that it would help me if ever I had to deal with such records. The lecture by Megan Lewis was very informative about the Hungarian records available but also told me a lot about the general records of the museum. There will, it seems, be a lot more records from the museum being put on-line due to the recruitment of three people to start scanning documents and films. Many of the records go well beyond simple vital records data to much fuller records about the lives and activities of individuals before and after the Holocaust,

Most of my afternoon was spent working on the IAJGS table. There I spent time talking to David Shulman and other people. I used the table as an opportunity to sell copies of the JGSGB Jewish Ancestors? Guides on the UK, Poland, Latvia and Estonia and Lithuania. There was great enthusiasm among conference attendees for the guides and we sold about 14 of them. A great tribute to the people who wrote the guides and who have revised them. We will sell more over the coming days I am very sure.

At the end of the afternoon I attended the lecture from the Israel Institute of Jewish Genealogy, which was given by Neville Lamden. The lecture coincided with the 10th anniversary of the institute and it became apparent that IIJG was actually reaching a point of maturity and impact in the world of Jewish genealogy and the academic world. The Institute’s projects showed how genealogical research could go much further into social, political and geographical history than might have ever been thought possible. Several of the projects reported on are of immense help to both genealogists and general historians. It was very uplifting to see genealogy delivering serious outcomes.

The final event of the day was the JewishGen volunteers reception. This was not as well attended as previous years due to the lower number of JewishGen SIG leaders and volunteers at the conference but still a very useful chance for people to talk and network.

In coming blogs I hope to post some photos from the conference, if I can figure out how!




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