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12 December 2009

London 2009

In October of 2009, I was able once again to visit London, England. This is the fourth year in a row that I have been able to attend the one day conference of The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. The conference was held again at the West London Synagogue of British Jews at Upper Berkeley Street. As usual it was an incredible conference. We enjoyed a day full of speakers discussing Jewish genealogy and history. The society is full of wonderful leaders and some of the nicest people anywhere. It is always a great experience for me when I am there. I am very proud of my membership, and of the friendships I have developed there.

The monday following I returned to a place that has been very special to me, Willesden Cemetery. As always, I jumped on the bus and travelled the 20 minutes or so from my hotel.
I love riding the double decker buses, because from the topside you can see everything. It seems as though there is history on every corner. Willesden is a very peacefull place where so many of the British Jews are buried. Everytime I go there I seem to find so much information that I have been looking for

This time was no different. I was able to tie up some loose ends on a family that are most likely my relations, the Kino family. To walk the grounds of this beautiful place is an amazing experience. I have now been here three times, and each visit has left me wanting to return. The building at right sits in the center of the cemetery. Pictures can not truly show how beautiful this place is.

Something, I enjoy doing when I travel, is going for walks around areas I have never been before. It helps me get to know the city and is a great way to work through the jetlag. On this trip as I walked around I came to a beautiful London synagogue.
The Great Prescott Street Synagogue.

Dublin 2009

A had a wonderful opportunity to have a week to do some research and become more familiar with the various archives in Dublin, Ireland. Its not often that such trips come up, so its important to get as much out of them as possible. I stayed at the Arlington Hotel, which is just off O'Connell street not far from the Post Office where the Easter Rebellion of 1916 took place. For the most part I was within walking distance of the major archives and libraries as well as Temple Bar, which is the main area of Dublin for restaurants and night life.
When I travel around the world, I like to explore areas where I have never been before. Its a way I have found helpfull in learning more about the people who lived there in the past. In Irealnd, I had a couple of wonderful experiences.
On a Sunday afternoon, after attending church, a good friend asked me if I would like to meet the real citizens of Dublin. Of course, I accepted the offer and spent a remarkable afternoon walking the grounds of Glasnevin Cemetery. Glasnevin is the final resting place of about 1.2 million people. Glasnevin is an incredible place, full of the histrical figures from Dublin's past. I was there for about 4 hours, and I know I didn't even see but a small part. I was so impressed however by the amount of renovation and beautification that is going on. One of the unique items about the cemetery is a tall wall all the way around the outside. Local story is that is was placed there to keep the grave robbers out. At each corner of the wall, are located turets where guards could have shot tresspassers.
Another evening I took the oportunity to walk through an area of Dublin that around the turn of the century was home to a large Jewish community. In the area that strecthes northwest from Portebello College, many Jews made their homes. It is in this area that The Irish Jewish Museum now stands.

This was an icredible place to walk as some of the people who lived there can be found in "The Knowles Collection" and one of those residents, a Dr. Solomon, the dentist, may even be related. His home, is the green home in the picture. The community may never have had the numbers other places did, but there was certainly an active community.It was agreat evening walking through the neighborhood.
Another evening I took the chance to walk by the Adelaide Road Synagogue. This synagogue seerved the community for many years before closing in the 1990's. The synagogue,(pictured at left)even though it is now closed holds a special place in the modern history of Dublin Jews. While I was on one of these evening walks, I found something quite by accident. The building in the upper left corner of the post shows a builing with a shield above the door. On that shield it reads "Built in the year 5618". This obvious use of the Hebrew date is a remant of use by the Jewish community.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I had the opportunity to attend the 2009 International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies annual conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is always a great chance to pick the brains of so many people who share the same passion. I was able to join Laurence Harris and other members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, on a panel to answer questions raised by those in attendance. I tried to attend as many of the classes as I could that dealt with Sephardic Jews. There seems to be more and more good information coming out each year.

New Zealand January 2009

In January of 2009 I had the chance to take one of the nicest trips I have ever taken. The 12th Congress of The Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) was held at Kings College, Otahuhu, New Zealand from 16th-20th of January. This congress, hosted this year by the New Zealand Society of Genealogists, is held every three years at sites in New Zealand and Australia.
My travel companion to New Zealand was Dan Poffenberger, one of my coworkers and also a good friend. The excitement of travel to New Zealand, made up for the fact that it seemed to me, that we spent half our trip in airports. We left from Salt Lake City about 10PM on a saturday evening. We flew to Los Angeles, had a few hours layover and then boarded a Korean Air flight to Seoul, South Korea. About 12 hours later we arrived in Seoul. It was nice to be on the ground again, but a little frustrating to realize we were only half way to New Zealand. We took advantage of a long layover to visit Seoul (see post for Seoul). We finally left Seoul and made our way to Auckland, New Zealand. With all of the hours in flight as well as the hours spent in airports and the time change, we arrived in Auckland on Tuesday morning, two and a half days after our journey began.
Upon our arrival in Auckland, we were met at the airport by Jan Gow. Jan is not only one of the organizing committee for the conference, but someone who has made genealogy a great experiences for many people over the years. Her annual trips to Salt Lake City with her tour groups, have become something we all look forward to. After being pickup by Jan we went to her home in Auckland where we had a chance to have a great dinner of fish that her husband had caught himself. It was a nice evening to visit and rest after the long flight. In the afternoon we were able to drive around Auckland and see a little of the beauty that is everywhere. The thing that becomes most evident is how green everything is. As we drove around we saw the most incredible trees, they are very large and as they get larger the branches grow to the point where they go back to the ground and form new trees. The sight of these trees forming new ones is amazing. It reminded me of family history work, nothing really ends, as families grow larger the work to find ancestors just keeps going on.
Upon arrival in Auckland, we found ourselves with a couple of free days before the congress was scheduled to begin. We decided to take a tour of the northern part of the north island, to an area known as the Bay Of Islands. We went because various people had told us how beautiful the area was and of all the history of New Zealand that was there. When we arrived at the location where our tour was to begin, I was amazed to find the only people going were Dan and I. I assume our guide was amazed as well as he brought a mini bus that would have held a dozen or so people very confortably.

Our tour guide Andy, was an incredible man. He was born with white skin to a dark skinned Samoan famiy, who had been descendants of some of the Germans who immigrated to Samoa. His mother realized that he would have had a hard upbringing under those conditions, so she put him up for adoption. He was adopted by a white family who lived in Australia. Eventually he married and moved to New Zealand. His adoptive mother felt it was important that he know of his culture, so she took him back on yearly visits. He was an incredible tour guide and was wonderful to put up with us "yanks".
As we headed out from Auckland, toward the Bay of Islands, we passed a place that kind of shows a lot of what happened on our tour. We soon came to a small community, Warkworth. As we drove in we passed a small cemetery which caught my attention. We continued on and stopped at a historical area to see some of the large trees that grow there. They are very similiar to the Redwoods of Northern California. While there I noticed a sign, that showed the distance to every other location around the world with the same name. It didn't strike me as anything other than just interesting, but it soon began to mean so much more.
As we were leaving this area we drove back toward the cemetery we had passed on the way in. I asked Andy if it would be okay to stop for a minute. As soon as I said it his head flipped around and he said "you 2 bloakes come all the way from the states and you want to stop at a graveyard?" and of course we said yes. He mumbled a bit but we got a few minutes to walk around. Over the course of the rest of the day we had long discuusion about families and family history. He shared his stories and we told our stories. As we travelled toward the Bay of Islands, he started talking less and less about the sights and more and more about families, and he even started driving to cemeteries that weren't on the main roads. We were having a great time.
At this point Andy asked if it would be okay if he invited a friend along, and of course we said yes. So at that point we met Walt, a man of Swiss German descent who was an immigrant to New Zealand from Switzerland and France.
Andy couldnt wait to tell him all about these weird foreigners, who wanted to look at graves, but he kept taking us to them. In talking to the two of them the sign post began to affect me more and more. I soon realized that in many ways it stood for Andy and Walt. No matter where they were from and what their background was, they always rememberred where they were from.

Seoul, South Korea January 2009

In all fairness my visit to Seoul was really only a layover on the way to Auckland, New Zealand. I travelled to the conference in New Zealand with a coworker, Dan Poffenberger. On the way to Auckland we had about 15 hours to kill and decided to take the bus from the airport to the center of Seoul to see the city. Even though we were not there that long, I few things will always remain with me.
First, we were on our way to summer in New Zealand so I only wore a light jacket, I didn't expect the coldest day of the year in Seoul, but thats what it was. The wind that blew made me about as cold as I can ever remember being..
Secondly, as we walked through the streets of Seoul, the smells will not soon be forgotten. Everywhere we walked, the smell of cooking cabbage was strong, as if every building had some cooking. I love the taste of cabbage, but it was just more than my nose could handle. In fact, I dont think I have ever been so happy to see a good old american donut shop.
The third thing that has stuck with me about Seoul is the variety of historical areas within the city. As we walked the street there were the traditional historical sites that I expected to see, things such as monuments to past leaders, both military and religous.
They were beautiful and it was actually very calming to visit them. In addition we had the chance to see a piece of history that I didn't expect. In the center of Seoul was a section of the Berlin wall. I would never have thought that I would have to go all the way to Seoul, just to see the Berlin wall. The picture at the right shows Dan in front of the wall.

Jamaica April 2008

In April of 2008 I had the opportunity to visit the Island of Jamaica. Although Jews started settling there in the 1660's, the real history began after the earthquake of 1692. The first Jewish communities established after the quake were Kingston and Spanish Town. Many of the early settlers were from London and Amsterdam. In fact the traditions of England are still widely seen. From driving on the wrong side of the road (my own humble opinion) to the hotels and shops named after English locations, such as the Gloucester Hotel (below).
While the numbers may be low, the Jews of Jamaica are an incredible group. I was able to travel around and visit with some of the current families and learn more about their history. Many people are surprised to find that on the Island there are almost 2 dozen Jewish cemeteries.
In many ways, the people are just like their homeland. They are warm and friendly. The Island of Jamaica is a beautiful place, full of life, color and a very peaceful location.

I hope to have the chance to return again.

Chicago, Illinois September 2008

London, England October 2008

New York, New York 2006

This was a very exciting trip for me. Not only was it a chance to visit one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, but it was the first chance to present The Knowles Collection to such a large audience. I was nervous and excited to present, and it went quite well. I had a full room and there seemed to be a lot of interest. After the class I found it very gratifing that so many people stayed and talked about their own families. 2 people even donated names to the collection. The following day I presented a class on using English records. Again, I was overwhelmed by the many nice comments. I truly enjoy attending these conferences.

London, England October 2007

Dublin, Ireland 2006