I’d like to thank the hundreds of people who viewed my session (Using the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy) during the three-day Rootstech Connect Conference. The session will be available until next year’s conference, so if you missed it you can still watch it. As the conference itself is over now, I am directly linking to the video here. If you do like the video, you can still go to the Rootstech session page and like it by clicking the thumbs up button. You can watch the video on this page, or click on the title to load it in YouTube, where it should show up larger.
I am speaking at Rootstech Connect (February 25-27), the online conference sponsored by FamilySearch, that has over 500,000 registered attendees. Rootstech started out as a conference focused on the convergence of genealogy and technology, but over the past ten years has become the largest genealogy conference of any kind worldwide. This year’s conference is only online, and will be by far the biggest genealogy conference ever held.
There is a speaker chat on the Rootstech site where I will be available to answer questions, although I don’t know when exactly I will be on the chat. If you’re signed in to the site, you can get into my session’s chat using this invite link or simply go to my session’s page and click the Join Chat Room button there.
Update: The full list of presenters in English at Rootstech Connect has been published. I’ve put together a list of those lectures in English that are of interest to Jewish researchers. Of course many of the lectures will be of interest to all genealogists, but these are the ones dealing with specifically Jewish topics. As I’ve been able to collect new information I’ve been adding to the below, including lectures in Spanish and Portuguese, as well as a slate of lectures provided by the IAJGS and Jewish at their virtual expo booths. Here are the Rootstech lectures with a Jewish connection, in English (not including the IAJGS or JewishGen ones):
There are many other lectures that will be of interest to Jewish researchers. Daniel Horowitz must be giving the most lectures of anyone at the conference, covering a range of MyHeritage features (beyond his more personal lecture above). Janette Silverman is speaking about researching off the beaten path, which will probably be helpful to Jewish researchers. Greg Nelson from FamilySearch will be lecturing about Eastern European and Former Soviet records. Kinga Urbańska will be speaking about Galician and Polish resources. Any number of more general topics will be helpful as well.
There are also non-English lectures during Rootstech Connect. The following are those I’m aware of with a Jewish connection:
In addition to the above, the IAJGS has a number of lectures they have provided. You can go to the IAJGS Booth, although the lectures are also searchable along with the other sessions at the conference. The IAJGS lectures are:
Ten years ago today, I posted my first article on this site, then a blog on Google’s Blogger platform. The post itself was thinking aloud about whether to switch genealogy programs from Reunion 9 to Family Tree Maker, which had just been introduced on the Mac for the first time (in case you’re wondering what I decided back then, I’m using Reunion 13 now).
Continuing this slightly technical thread, the site was moved off a shared hosting site in 2018 onto an Amazon Lightsail server, and upgraded to a larger server in 2020. I only point these out since people don’t always think about what goes on behind the scenes to keep sites like this running.
Looking back, I’ve written about 250 articles. There are also about a dozen article drafts I started but were never completed. The reason I call this is a site anniversary, and don’t use the term ‘Blogiversary’ which I used after the first year (1st Blogiversary: The Year in Review) is that this site has grown well beyond just being a blog. The B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy, which was added in 2016, currently has over 25,000 pages of resources for Jewish genealogy.
These articles stand out to me for very different reasons. The first few deal with photographs, and the importance of collecting them and properly preserving them. I grew up with a dark room in my attic, and a love of photography, so it’s no wonder I believe photographs are so important. Finding Information on US Immigrants is my go-to article to share when people are first getting started and want to figure out where their families came from before reaching the US. While I wrote that almost ten years ago, I try to update it from time to time to make sure the links all work and everything still makes sense. Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy is my overview of the resources on this site and others across the world that people getting started in Jewish genealogy should know about. My gravestone symbols article has been popular since I published it back in 2011 (even Billiongraves cites it in their article on Jewish gravestones), and I’ve supplemented that with my article on understanding the inscriptions as well, Deciphering Jewish Gravestones, which at over 30 pages has a lot of useful information. My post on communities tied to Rzeszow is a look at how you can extract patterns in old records beyond just looking for specific records. I looked at marriage records, and figured out which towns spouses of those in Rzeszow came from, and showed the community stamps, as well as those of local Rabbis. This kind of research can help you figure out where to look for records when you’ve exhausted the obvious places. Food as Genealogy is just a fun article with a great recipe that my mother-in-law showed my wife how to cook. This kind of passing on of oral tradition is also important, and sometimes overlooked as part of genealogy – it’s not all BMD records. The last article on my grandfather, is great because it shows how the significance of a simple piece of information might be overlooked, if you don’t understand the context. A visa stamp (with a swastika) on November 11, 1938 might not seem especially significant, until you realize he was entering Nazi Germany the day after Kristallnacht, a pogrom where hundreds of synagogues were burned to the ground, thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed, and tens of thousands of Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The day after. So always try to understand the context of what you’re looking at and if you are scanning documents, scan all the pages (what if I had only scanned the photo page of the passport?).
Beyond this site, in the past ten years I’ve spoken at various genealogy conferences (remember those?), written articles for journals, and helped found the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) where I started by building their web site, and later served four years as President (which ended this past June). I’m proud that during that time IGRA became the largest of the over 80 member societies of the IAJGS. I’m next speaking at Rootstech Connect, the massive (I’ve heard there will be over 100,000 participants) virtual genealogy conference taking place next year.
While this year has been difficult, with four kids at home trying to zoom into their various schools, I did have time to post several great lists of Jewish names published in books dating back 150 years, which were prepared while I worked on a major article (over 30 pages) on Deciphering Jewish Gravestones. I also posted the 2019 lists of Jewish boys and girls names from Israel, a very popular series of articles on this site. To see all the articles on names, see the Names page which collects the various lists and articles I’ve posted over the years related to names.
While that photo collage was posted to Instagram in August, I didn’t actually write an article about those photos until just recently (Photos handed down through different family branches). If you click on the link in my Instagram profile, you will actually see all the Instagram images, each of which now links to an article on this site. This gets around the restriction on Instagram preventing links for individual images. While there are services that automate that type of linking, I’ve managed to develop something on my own site that does the same thing. Follow me on Instagram, and let me know what you think of the link system. I’ve added a bunch of images connected to past articles, and moving forward I hope each new article will get a post to Instagram.
I imagine I’m not alone among writers wondering why certain articles become more popular than others. I have an idea of how many people visit my site, and which articles they read, but it’s always nice to hear from readers about what they like, and what they’ve learned from on the site. If you have a favorite article or feature on this site, please let me know in the comments.
As many of you know, I live in Israel, and while I do not speak Hebrew fluently, I have tried to offer Hebrew resources for genealogy. This is both for Israeli genealogists, and for Jewish genealogists everywhere who almost always need some Hebrew skills, whether to transcribe a gravestone or read old documents. For Hebrew-language genealogy I’ve created Hebrew Genealogy Forms, as well as researched and put together the list (and chart) Hebrew family and genealogy terms.
In the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy, there are many Hebrew-language resources spread across the thousands of locations. Some resources are things like Yad Vashem Encyclopedia of the Ghettos articles (only available online in Hebrew), or the web sites of Israeli landsmanshaftn.
I want to thank the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and the over 80 member societies that make up that organization for honoring this site last night at their annual conference in Cleveland. I am very grateful that this site and the many years of work I’ve put into have been able to benefit so many people, and I am thankful to have that work recognized.
I am sorry I was not able to attend the conference this year, not only because I wasn’t able to accept the award personally (thank you Garri Regev for accepting on my behalf), but because it is always nice to be able to see other genealogists from around the world and to learn from the many lecturers who speak at the conference.
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