From David Mink

To the Phila Conference Committee Chairs,


If the comments on the digests mean anything, then the Conference was a huge success.  The hard work in planning and the dedication at the conference to your areas of responsibility resulted in a wonderful experience for a lot of people, and they appreciated the effort.  I am proud of everyone's contribution and we did "set the bar very high for JGSLA". 


For our own benefit, and in case JGSLA asks us, please take a few minutes and tell me the high points and the low points of your experience, what would you do differently, and  any advise for next years organizers.  Please also include any thoughts for the general welfare.


We had 1000 registrants and we delivered a great product in a hamish environment.  We did it Philly style.  Thank you for all of your hard work and cooperation.  You were a great team and you made my job easy.  Now we can turn our energies into building our own society.






From Anne Feder Lee and David Mink


Thanks to everyone who came to the conference and to those of you who told us at the conference and/or have written telling us how much you enjoyed the experience!  We are truly gratified that you joined us and that you benefited from the learning, sharing, and networking that are so important to those of us devoted to family research.


In co-hosting this conference, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia (JGSGP) worked extremely well together and we are much indebted to many individuals who have so generously given their time and efforts.


Thanks to the following for their work before and during the conference:

Jan Meisels Allen, Fred Blum, Hal Bookbinder, Harry Boonin, Michael Brenner, Evan Fishman, Stacia Freidman, Mark Halpern, Mark Heckman, Daniel Horowitz, Bill Israel, David Kleiman, Kahlile Mehr, Stanley Merves. Jim and Cindy Meyers, Selma Neubauer, Mike Posnick, Joan Rosen, Shelda and Stan Sandler, Steve Schecter, Lois Sernoff, Joel Spector, Renee Steinig, Jackye Sullins, Jeff Vasser, Pamela Weisberger and the many who volunteered time helping on-site.


We also thank the Sheraton Hotel staff, our meeting planners Bonnie Wallsh and Nadine Fox, all the speakers, exhibitors, Beth and Ben from E-show who made registration a breeze, the registration workers from PhillyTemps, and the security personnel.


Finally, we wish to express our deep appreciation to all those who so generously helped make the conference a success through financial contributions.


With very best wishes for your continued family research,


Anne Feder Lee (IAJGS) and David Mink (JGSGP)

Philly2009 Co-Chairs





As the founding president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Philadelphia, which is the original name of the outfit, I am not sure that enough has been said about all of you and what a great job that was done for the Conference.


My feelings were best stated by Mark Twain, the greatest of America’s greats. He wrote: “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they haven’t said enough.”


I, also, sort of a “me too,” feel that not enough has been said about all of you and the efforts that all of you put into the Conference. I guess David Mink said it best. About a week before the Conference began, I asked David how things were going. David, in his usual laid back, off-the-cuff-with-smile-and-a-wink look said: “I’m having a blast.” I wonder how many co-chairs of a conference, one week before the conference when all little things are magnified 100% out of proportion, could say those words, sincerely, and mean them. David, it was easy to see, was having a blast.


And I looked at the faces of most of you and I think you all mimicked David’s words and attitude. For I think it was the attitude of everyone involved that I was most impressed with. Smiles were on everyone’s face. Dedication to the task at hand, whatever it was, was undertaken with a song and a smile.


Maybe not enough has been said, but I don’t know how to say more, than, thank you for everything. It was certainly part of your lives that you will all look back upon with great satisfaction.







Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 10, Number 16 | August 16, 2009

This edition is going to 8,489 subscribers


Philadelphia Conference: A Remarkable Event


For each of the past 15 years, I have attended two major conferences of American genealogy, those of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society For the past 29 years I have attended virtually every Jewish conference now titled the “International Conference on Jewish Genealogy” Having just participated in the 29th International Conference held in Philadelphia, I can say that the quality and quantity of the Jewish conferences now surpass American national conferences


There were 275 sessions including lectures, computer workshops, a film festival, and working breakfasts and luncheons Almost all lectures were given as PowerPoint presentations, the standard for a number of years More than 160 presenters and meeting coordinators participated in the program The six hour-and-a-quarter time slots during the day had eight concurrent sessions plus the computer workshops and the film festival The resource room had about 30 laptops with Internet access, free of charge, to most major fee-for-service genealogical databases The US Holocaust Memorial Museum allowed online access to databases normally available only at the museum through controlled access by their personnel The Exhibit Hall included nearly 20 vendors At the Avotaynu booth, Google Your Family Tree was the best seller


For years, the conference has a significant person as the keynote speaker at the Sunday evening opening session This year, it was Father Patrick Desbois, the Roman Catholic priest who is best known for his work in searching for and uncovering mass graves of Jews in Ukraine Monday-Thursday, the program started at 7 am with “Breakfast with the Experts” and lasted until 10 pm


More and more, the Jewish conferences are including experts beyond the genealogical community to educate attendees on family history research Two European archivists, the head archivist of Romania and the deputy archivist of Ukraine, gave lectures At least five speakers were university professors


Nearly 1,000 people attended because Philadelphia can attract attendees from the major Jewish population areas of New York and Washington, DC Next year’s conference in Los Angeles will attract a similar number of people as well as the Washington, DC, conference in 2011


Conference planners reported that some of the attendees comments included the words broad-based, robust, high quality, excellent, fantastic, interesting and informative.


In 2010, the 30th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held July 11–16 at the new Marriott Los Angeles at LA LIVE which opens in February 2010 The hotel is located in the heart of the city.





On behalf of JGS, Inc (New York), I want to congratulate the JGS of Greater Philadelphia and IAJGS on a conference that was well-done, well-run, and chock full of interesting and informative programming.  Kudos go to David Mink, Anne Lee, and Mark Halpern, who all deserve a well-earned rest.


Linda Cantor

President, JGS, Inc



Now that the conference has concluded, we'd like to congratulate and thank the JGS of Greater Philadelphia and the IAJGS for organizing an excellent week of programs, resources and activities for the rest of us. We heard that over 900 people attended!  Despite minor glitches (like airports shutting down on our arrival days !), the conference proceeded smoothly and provided fantastic opportunities to learn from and connect with other genealogists.


Yasher Koach!


Heidi Urich

on behalf of the JGS of Greater Boston





Just wanted to say this was my first conference and my first experience with genealogy, and I was very impressed with the sessions. Great Job! I learned so much.



Congratulations to the JGSGP for producing a high-calibre conference



The conference was the first I attended. I can not imagine that any previous conference could have been as well put together and managed. Every aspect of the conference was well done; the program, the facility, the organization and management. You and the others who put it all together did a wonderful job and deserve all the credit I know you will receive from those of us interested in Jewish Genealogy.



WOW! My head is still spinning from the conference.  Having never been to one before, I had no idea what to expect, but thought the program looked incredibly rich and varied. It was far better than that. There wasn't just something for everyone - there was a lot for everyone.  The depth and breadth were overwhelming.  I found myself trying frantically to make use of every minute. I went with a list of goals to help me not get distracted, and ended the week, not only having met my goals (except for finding the elusive documents) but I also managed to see several films; learn a lot of history; get some great creative and practical ideas; have a conversation with someone from a religious group about my concerns (and learned it's worse than I thought); get a letter translated which told me not only what happened to my family and their shtetl during the Holocaust, but also named more family members(!!);  meet some fascinating people; and have a few good cries and a few good laughs.  I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. I have been to many professional conferences, and I have never seen one run so smoothly and pleasantly.  It seemed that every detail was thought of to make the experience as easy and rewarding as possible.  Thank you for the tremendous amount of work so many people had to put into this event to achieve such outstanding results.


Bobbi Weintraub

Philadelphia, NYC



I would also like to add my thanks to the IAJGS and Philadelphia for a wonderful conference. Each year they get better and better!  I can echo what Bobbi Weintraub said about her head still spinning after attending her very first conference.  I have attended about 25 of them and as more and more information becomes available thru all of our volunteer efforts - the brain does go into overload. There is so much to learn.  So to the organizers, a big thank you for another marvelous and carefully thought out program.


Freya Blitstein Maslov

Morton Grove, IL



To add my congratulations to what others are saying - thank you to all those who worked so hard to produce this superbly successful conference.


Bravo to all the officers, members of the JGSGP planning committee and all those who participated for a job well done!


Merle Kastner

Montreal, Canada



It is without a doubt a privilege to add my voice to those who have voiced infinite praise for the Philadelphia committee in charge of the just completed Conference. The sessions were stimulating and it was wonderful meeting the dozens of people I have met through email over the years and who were not at the 2004 Conference in Jerusalem. It is clear that nothing so wonderful could have been created by a single person. As a rabbi who served in synagogues in the United States before coming on Aliyah, I know the dire consequences if a name is left out when complimenting a group. However, there were some people with whom I was in frequent contact who were most helpful and I want to use this forum to personally thank – Mark Halpern – you can now say with relief “free at last, free at last, thank God, I’m free at last,” Steve Schecter and his daughter – Steve’s guide to Philadelphia is a remarkable achievement, Harry Boonin – whose special award honored us all, Evan Fishman – who organized minyanim, a tribute not only to the Conference but also to the ancestors that many at the Conference are researching, Shelda & Stan Sandler – always there to help out in any way they could, Fred Blum – for the BOFs he led and especially for introducing me to his 90-year old mother who knew people I knew from way back when in Darby, Joan Rosen – for her endless help in many ways. Of course the list can go on. These fine people along with many others helped put Philadelphia back on the map. Thank you for a memorable experience.


Shalom Bronstein, Jerusalem



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