DC 2003 Conference Summary

The 23rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy was a great success! Our hats are off to Sheri Meisel, Ben Okner, and Eli Savada (along with scores of volunteers) who put on a great conference.

Here is an update of IAJGS “stuff” from the conference.

IAJGS Achievement Awards - The achievement awards for 2003 were presented at the banquet on Thursday evening: -Lifetime Achievement Award to Miriam Weiner, Outstanding Contribution to Stephen Morse for his one-step web pages, - Outstanding Project to the JGS of Montreal for Quebec vital records indexing. - Outstanding Publication to the JGS of Palm Beach County for their Beginner’s Guide.

The IAJGS Stern Grant - This year the Stern Grant went to University of Denver Ira M. Beck Memorial Special Collection Archives to support their effort to index about 25,000 patient files covering 15,000 patients from 1904-1920.

Financials - The IAJGS balance sheet remained flat, with income of $9,700 and expenditures of $9,800 for 2002. Dues provide about half the income with the remainder being donations (primarily Stern Fund), and sales of CD/ROMs. - Our president, Hal Bookbinder, noted that the costs are kept down through the generosity of the IAJGS board members, who absorb much of the cost of their participation.

Membership - The IAJGS welcomed two new societies this year, Western Massachusetts JGS and Utah JGS. There are ongoing discussions with a number of other areas where we continue to encourage the formation of new societies.

Future IAJGS Conferences - The 2004 IAJGS Jewish Genealogical Conference will be in Jerusalem and the 2005 conference will be in Las Vegas. Representatives from the Israel Genealogcial Society, including Martha Lev-Zion, Chana Furman, and Jean-Pierre Stroweis welcomed us to “Next Year in Jerusalem.

IAJGS Cruise - The First IAJGS Genealogy Cruise is planned for December 1st-5th, departing from Miami for Key West and Cozumel. Speakers include Warren Blatt, Hal Bookbinder, Peter Lande, Stephen Morse, Daniel Schlyter, and more. - Time to book and get a free cabin upgrade is running short (expiring September 1st). Check the IAJGS web site for more information. NOTE: At the End of August the board of directors regretfully had to cancel the cruise due to lack of participation. All who had registered for the cruise will receive a full refund of their deposits and fees.

IAJGS Cemetery Project - The IAJGS Cemetery Project (the cataloguing of Jewish cemeteries around the world) continues under the leadership of Ellen Sadove Renck. The cataloguing of burials is, of course, now being done as separate JewishGen project. - Ellen asks that each society check the web site (http://www.iajgs.org/cemetery/) for completeness in their area of the world. Also, should members of your society know of Jewish cemeteries elsewhere, they are strongly encouraged to provide information to Ellen to be included on the web site. Ellen could also use some assistance in maintaining the cemetery web site. So, if you or a friend know HTML and are willing to help, please contact Ellen by Email.  A suggestion was made at the annual meeting that the IAJGS Cemetery Project track cemetery restoration efforts. Some of this information is already included. Ellen would certainly include more such information if it is available to her. If anyone would like to volunteer to focus on this area, please let Ellen or Hal Bookbinder know of your willingness.

IAJGS Chat Site - Hal announced that the IAJGS has created a Chat Site with plans for its use to facilitate live discussions with experts, and for less formal birds-of-a-feather sessions. You can connect to the IAJGS Chat Site through a link on the IAJGS home page (www.iajgs.org) and will be undergoing beta-testing for several months, while we work out logistics for its use. -Twenty individuals at the Annual General Meeting volunteered to participate in this beta-testing. One issue of which we are aware is that the AOL browser does not work with the chat site. We are working with AOL on a solution. But the workaround is to use another browser, like Internet Explorer, rather than the native AOL one.

Film Lending Agreement - Hal announced that the IAJGS and the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles had signed an agreement that will allow representatives of IAJGS member societies to borrow from the extensive (1000+) film library of the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles. The only cost will be for shipping the video back to the JCLLA so long as it is returned on time and undamaged. The particulars of the program have been on the IAJGS website. A list of about 35 videos available under the agreement which are specifically geared to Jewish genealogy or culture was distributed to those attending the annual meeting.

Legislative / Records Update - Last August, the IAJGS intervened in California, lobbying against a bill that would severely restrict access to vital records state-wide. As a result of coordinated lobbying by several interest groups, the bill was substantially loosened before final passage. In May, the IAJGS contacted the German Minister of the Interior, lobbying for loosening access to German vital records. For all intents and purposes, most of the records are now closed. We were provided with assurance from the Minister’s office that a bill that will allow genealogical access will become law in 2005. The leaders of the JGS of Hamburg were most pleased with this result. We are beginning a campaign now to lobby the entities that provide oversight to the International Tracing Service to open these records so that individuals can better achieve closure regarding those who perished in the Holocaust. We will keep you posted on progress.

IAJGS Bylaws Amendments - IAJGS Bylaws were amended to remove term limits on IAJGS board members (except the president who will continue to be limited to two consecutive terms). Another amendment cleaned up some fuzzy wording.

IAJGS Board Elections - The recommendation of the nominating committee was approved by the membership, resulting in Hal Bookbinder being re-elected as President, Michael Brenner being elected as Vice-President, Joel Spector being re-elected as Secretary, and Michael Posnick being re-elected as Treasurer. Anne Feder Lee, who had been Vice-President, chose not to stand for re-election. She has contributed a lot and will be missed. As Michael Brenner was elected as an officer, his position as a director became open. In accordance with the IAJGS bylaws, the Board selected Ellen Shindelman Kowitt to serve the remaining one-year portion of Michael’s term.

Annual Meeting participants received a CD/ROM containing six years of Jewish Genealogy Yearbooks (1998-2003) in their packets. The packets also contained materials pertaining to many of the items above as well as a list of JGS Society project ideas constructed by Anne Feder Lee and Martha Lev-Zion along with a list of JGS programming ideas constructed by Judy Frazin, Hal Bookbinder, and Jan Meisels Allen