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29 June 2010

Los Angeles July 2010 30th IAJGS Conference

This week has been the 30th International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Conference in Los Angeles, California. Held at the new JW Marriott hotel next to the Staples Center, the conference was a great success.
I was able to spend most of the time working with Dan Schlyter in the booth representing Family Search. It is always a lot of fun to be able to visit with Jewish researchers from all over the world. In my free time I was able to renue aquaintances with people from, Canada, England, Australia, Israel, and all parts of the United States. Last week, the Knowles Collection was expanded to over 115,000 people. At the conference I was able to teach a class on how to use it. It was nice that within 24 hours of teaching that class 5 people had already sent me there own families for inclusion.
This year the conference was sponsered by the Los Angeles society and they did an excellent job. Next year we move to Washington D.C., which should be a great location.

14 March 2010

Australia 2010

In March of 2010, I had the chance to visit Australia. I had known about the trip for some time, but nothing could prepare me for the incredible experience it was. I was there to speak at The Second Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The conference was to be held in Melbourne. The flight from Los Angeles was the only downer of the entire trip, and only because it took so long, otherwise I have nothing but good memories.

My first day in Australia, I tried to act like a native and went on a walkabout. Big mistake. I started by walking toward the nearest beach, which would take me through the old Jewish areas of town. It was a nice walk and I did indeed see a lot of Jewish history, the problem was as I got to my destination and was walking along the beach, I noticed the sky was getting very dark. I started for my hotel, which was about an hour or so walk from where I was. As I was about half way home, walking as fast as I could, and taking many shortcuts, I made a mistake. I walked through an area of town that was sealed off as they prepared for the Formula 1 race that was a few weeks away. As I stopped to look at a few of the cars being unloaded, I soon found that the local police officials didn't approve of me being there. A few apologies later, I received a ride to the park entrance in the back seat of one of the police cars. A great way to start my visit. As I got to the gate, I noticed that the storm clouds had caught me while I was detained. I soon found
myself caught in what the newspapers called the "100 Years Storm". I walked as fast as I could ducking under or behind anything I could find to keep out of the rain, it didn't work. I soon found myself arriving at my hotel, soaking wet.

The Conference itself was a truly remarkable event, one of the best organized conferences I have ever attended. The organizers, The Australian Jewish Genealogical Society did a marvelous job. I met a lot of new friends, reacquainted with a few old ones and even had an opportunity I will never forget.

I was invited to speak at a beautiful Synagogue, The North Shore Synagogue, just outside Sydney. Following my talk, I was able to meet some cousins I had never met before. The nicest part was they seemed to be the best of people, I really enjoyed visiting with them.

I was able to visit some wonderful places and make many new friends. I can't wait to return and I hope its very soon.