Hundreds of International Jewish Genealogists to Gather for Major Event

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International researchers, experts and archivists will meet July 15-20 in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the never-ending quest for their Jewish roots. The intense learning experience offers more than 100 speakers and over 200 programs from early morning through evening.

But we get together to meet real-time in geographical and topical research groups and learn from each other. You must meet in person. You can't just sit at home in your pajamas in front of a computer monitor.

To some, it's a hobby; to others, an obsession. For six days each year, international researchers, experts and archivists attend a multitude of sessions on researching Jewish family heritage and ethnic roots. The 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will meet July 15-20, in Salt Lake City, Utah, offering 100 speakers, more than 200 programs and special activities from early morning to evening.

The common denominator - despite a wide range of nationalities, languages and religious observance - is the quest to record, preserve and transmit unique family histories to future generations.

Held in a different city each year, the conference is under the aegis of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, the umbrella organization for nearly 80 societies. This year's event provides access to the Family History Library, the world's largest genealogical repository with extensive Jewish resources.

The conference offers information for researchers of all levels - from beginners to advanced - and includes sessions on software and technology, the role of DNA in tracing family, Sephardic and Ashkenazi genealogy, new resources, archival access and major announcements.

Opening speaker Paul A. Shapiro of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, will give an up-to-the-minute report on the secretive International Tracing Service's Bad Arolsen archive and public accessibility to this trove of Holocaust material.

The banquet speaker is author-journalist Dan Rottenberg, whose 1977 book, "Finding Our Fathers," appeared a few months after the television series "Roots." Credited as the catalyst of the contemporary Jewish genealogical community, he'll review three decades of Jewish genealogy and give his view of the future.

Although some believe that genealogy merely collects the names of the dead, Jewish genealogy is a broad multi-disciplinary endeavor encompassing history, Jewish history, languages, genetics, anthropology, sociology, DNA and genetics, technology and other fields.

Beginners are welcome; many of today's experts got started at a long-ago conference. There is a beginner's workshop in Jewish genealogy, Family History Library orientation sessions, and entry-level computer workshops.

The Genealogy Film Festival will screen 44 films covering many countries and topics, from early morning through evening. A photography exhibit will focus on small-town life in pre-Holocaust Poland with a talk by the original photographer's grandson.

European and local archivists, along with Israeli experts, will offer their knowledge, while daily breakfasts with Family History Library regional experts will provide information on that repository, a few blocks from the conference hotel.

In today's genealogical world, technology and online resources play an increasingly essential role in determining how family history researchers gather and share information. The Jewish genealogical world is acutely aware of these developments and offers computer workshops and a resource center.

Computer workshops offer entry-level beginning computer skills and advanced techniques for programs, databases and websites. Instructors include international technology guru Dr. Stephen Morse and other experts. The popular workshops fill quickly.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti, a New York-born Tel Aviv resident, spoke of the profound change advanced technology has brought to the field.

Just a few short years ago, genealogists gathered names and dates from disintegrating tombstones and worked in dusty archives or with microfilm. Today, Dardashti said, "Tombstone rubbing is out. The digital camera is now the weapon of choice."

"Since the advent of the Internet, we've become an instantly communicating community around the world," she said. "But we get together to meet real-time in geographical and topical research groups and learn from each other. You must meet in person. You can't just sit at home in your pajamas in front of a computer monitor."

People need to meet realtime, face to face, to network, collaborate and learn. The overall trend is for increasing numbers of attendees at the conferences. More than 1,400 people attended the 2006 New York conference.

The new kid on the block, said Dardashti, is Sephardic genealogy, which encompasses a wide swath of non-Ashkenazi, non-Eastern European, non-Yiddish speaking communities and origins. Today, there is increasing interest in Eastern European families with either Sephardic surnames or oral traditions of a Spanish origin.

For additional information on the 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, to arrange a media pass, or for interviews with major speakers, contact Schelly Talalay Dardashti or visit

ABOUT IAJGS: The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies is the umbrella group for nearly 80 worldwide societies. The annual conferences take place under its aegis in cooperation with local societies. Through its annual Achievement Awards and IAJGS Salutes, individuals and organizations are recognized for Jewish genealogical contributions.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti
Publicity Chair - email contact preferred
Phone: 212-444-1570 (email preferred)
publicity @


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