39th IAJGS Conference Summary

Dear Presidents,

As I write this, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are rapidly approaching.  To all of you observing the holidays, Shanna Tovah and all the best to you, your families and your members for the New Year of 5780.

The IAJGS 39th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy ended on August 2 but the excitement lives on.  Those of you who attended will understand what I feel when I speak of the excitement, enthusiasm, elation and other emotions which all of us there felt during the conference.  I’ve often described our conferences as smorgasbord of Jewish genealogy; there is far more than one can take in during the conference.

The numbers will help to explain some part of what occurred.  We had almost 900 registered attendees representing 16 countries and 36 states plus the District of Columbia.  Approximately one-third of our attendees were first-timers and about the same percentage came either from Ohio or a neighboring state, normal for what we see for US conferences.

Those attendees chose from 252 programs, 13 computer workshops, and 18 Breakfast with the Expert programs.  We also had a Sunday Educators’ program with 35 attendees and 2 days of cemetery tours for those wishing to visit the graves of family members.

This year we moved our Keynote speaker from Sunday evening to Sunday afternoon to accommodate our evening reception at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Our Keynote speaker was Professor Daniel Godmark from Case Western Reserve University.  His topic was “Jews and Pop and Popular Music.”  The audience loved it and was singing along with the musical clips in his PowerPoint.  I was surprised that no one got up and jitterbugged in the aisles.

On Sunday afternoon, the IAJGS hosted a reception for all of the JGS presidents in attendance, something that we do every year but which we moved to Sunday this year because the presidents had expressed an interest in meeting their counterparts as early as possible during the conference.  Each president received a directory with the contact information for all of his/her counterparts and this directory is being sent to all of you so that you will have your own copy.  It is my hope and intention to do this every year.

Our Thursday Gala banquet featured a number of awards, all of which are listed in our website (www.iajgs.org) and our after dinner speaker was Michael Krasny, the host of the National Public Radio station KQED Forum in San Francisco, speaking on his book “Let There Be Laughter” a compendium of Jewish humor.

Next year our 40thInternational Conference of Jewish Genealogy will be in San Diego from August 9 – 14.  As information becomes available, it will be posted on the conference web site, www.iajgs2019.org.

If you have any questions or comments, you can always reach me at president@iajgs.org.

Ken Bravo
President, International Association
of Jewish Genealogical Societies