Chicago 2008 Conference Summary

IllintreelogoThe 28th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy was held in Chicago and co-hosted by the IAJGS, the JGS of Illinois, and the Illiana JGS. The 800 attendees came from around the globe: twenty five from Canada, twenty from Israel, eleven from the United Kingdom, five from Germany, four from Australia, three from France, two from Austria, two from Jamaica, and one each from Belarus, Czech Republic, Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The largest contingent from the United States came from Illinois (193), with California coming in second (104). Thirty-six states (plus the District of Columbia) were represented.

lillianaleaftrAttendees were thrilled to hear Randy Schoenberg, in the keynote address at the opening session, describe the sequence of events that led to his success in getting Nazi looted art returned to the rightful owners. Also at the opening session, Harvey Krueger so eloquently spoke of the extraordinary contribution made by Susan King, founder of JewishGen, and all were delighted to see her and attend the opening reception held in her honor (co-sponsored by the IAJGS and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust).

It was hard to ignore the buzz among the attendees upon the announcement of a cooperative agreement between JewishGen, the premier resource for Jewish genealogy, and, the largest online resource for family history information – an agreement that will benefit all genealogists.

The Illinois Cook County Clerk’s office officially unveiled its new Web site at the conference. Thanks to the Genzyme Corporation, a special mini-seminar Jewish genetic diseases was offered. The Learning Center (Resource room) was used heavily as attendees took advantage of the computers (with various databases available) and the many books and resources so well organized by Trudy Barch, President of the Illiana Jewish Genealogy Society. The conference hospitality desk, managed by Judy Frazin and Harriet Rudnit of the JGS of Illinois helped many attendees with information about the Chicago area and made quite a number of people happy with a wide variety of door prizes.

The banquet on the final evening was a festive affair with, as one attendee commented, “the best banquet food I have ever had” and fun entertainment provided by storyteller Lisa Lipkin.

The co-chairs, Anne Feder Lee, Mike Posnick and Joel Spector are grateful for all the help they received from the many volunteers before and during the conference.

Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile