Stern/Stedman Grant Special Arrangements for 2020


The actions being taken by governments around the world to try to halt the spread of Coronavirus have resulted in unprecedented levels of enforced quarantine, self-isolation, lockdowns, and curfews, over prolonged time periods. All of us are having to adjust to a completely new way of living. With extra time at home, much of the genealogy community is offering online opportunities and services. It is therefore imperative that we provide activities that increase the levels of positive social interaction, bringing families or researchers together, even if they may reside in different physical locations, but without compromising the physical distancing and quarantine rules in force in each country.

We have an opportunity to bring something positive to our genealogical community and their families, in a timely manner, as one element in addressing the growing problem of social isolation.

IAJGS has therefore decided, in these unprecedented times, that the 2020 Stern and Stedman grants should target and facilitate the development, launching, or expansion of projects on a rapid timetable that will both:

  • benefit those undertaking Jewish genealogical research, and
  • improve the level of social interaction within and between families, and also between researchers.

Grant Amounts

The amounts of the grants are set by the IAJGS Board each year but are expected to be:

  • Rabbi Malcolm Stern Grant: US $3,000
  • John Stedman Memorial Grant: US $3,000

Selection Criteria for Stern & Stedman Grants for 2020

The Stern & Stedman Grants selection criteria for 2020 are:

  1. The grant may only be awarded to not-for-profit institutions or organizations (rather than to individuals).
  2. The grant will tangibly increase the likelihood that the project will be accomplished.
  3. The project results/deliverables will be made available, without charge, to the overall community of those researching Jewish Genealogy and to their families.
  4. The project can be delivered and rolled out very quickly. It is expected that that grants will be decided and awarded by the end of May 2020, and projects should be live and start to deliver benefits within eight weeks, i.e., by the end of July 2020.
  5. The project output will be accessible to users in their home environment.
  6. The project can be delivered globally so it can benefits benefit large numbers of researchers and their families (e.g., via email and the Internet)
  7. The project will improve social interaction (thereby helping to reduce the level social isolation).
  8. Where technology is used, it should be well proven and commonly available/accessible in most households.

Revised Timetable

There are two changes this year: (1) We are fast-tracking the selection and grant approval process, and (2) we are going to select projects that have a high likelihood of delivering benefits within two months of selection and grant approval. The critical dates (especially the first one) are:

  • 30 April 2020 at 7:00 pm EDT (USA): Closing date for receipt of grant nominations.
  • 30 May 2020 (target): Decision made on grant awardees and notification of awardees.
  • 1 June – 31 July (two months): Development and “Go Live” of the projects (by the grant recipients).

Project Ideas

This list is meant to give some ideas for the types of projects that could be undertaken. The list is not in any way comprehensive, and all types of projects will be considered. One important factor is that the projects should be capable of being live and delivering benefits by 31 July 2020 (or earlier if possible!):

  • Projects that increase the range of webinars, meetings, presentations, and online training (related to Jewish Genealogy) delivered virtually—possibly with recordings that can be accessed subsequently for those unable to watch at the original broadcast time.
  • Family history with grandparents (or other relatives) sessions via telephone, Skype, Zoom, or similar. Project would provide guidelines, sample questions, and/or forms. Perhaps capture stories. Possibly create special day(s) with experienced volunteers available online to help.
  • A one-to-one “Buddy” system, a platform where individuals researching the same geographic areas are matched and can mutually help each other by bouncing ideas off each other, discussing approaches and resources, etc.
  • Mentoring, where those willing to spend, say, 1–4 hours a week helping someone else (perhaps from another country) to develop their research skills. Both the mentor and the person being mentored would need to register on the system.
  • Transcription or translation projects where digital images of original documents can be sent to researchers to be transcribed and/or translated in their own homes.
  • A Jewish genealogy game that can be played in a household or, ideally, between two (or more) households.
  • An activity related to Jewish genealogy that can be used by children or teenagers (with supervision as necessary) or by families.

These example projects improve the level of social interaction in addition to improving the Jewish genealogy skills and knowledge of the individuals involved. They may also increase Jewish genealogy resources for future use.

In these current uncertain times, some of the simpler ideas could be the best in terms of quickly delivering activities/benefits and also minimizing the risk that the project could fail.

Key Documents You Will Need


Any questions relating to the nomination process for the Stern/Stedman Grants should be addressed to Laurence Harris (Chair, 2020 Stern/Stedman Grant Committee) by email to

International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies