The IAJGS2015 Conference in Jerusalem was a Great Success

I just finished a five-day genealogy conference and I am exhausted. That’s my measurement of success: If I am this tired, I know it was a successful event.

I wrote a few days ago at about the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) conference held this year in Jerusalem, Israel. I am not Jewish but have attended a couple of past IAJGS conferences held in the U.S. and already knew these are high-energy affairs packed with presentation after presentation. Many years ago, I also had an opportunity to spend a summer in Israel but had never been back since then. When I learned the 2015 IAJGS conference was to be held in Jerusalem, I decided it was time to go back and see what has changed in the country.

In my earlier report, I wrote, “This year’s conference has attracted about 800 attendees from all over.” In fact, that was the EXPECTED number that I heard from the show’s organizers on the first day. They had hoped and planned on attracting about 800 attendees. They were wrong. On the last evening of the conference, the organizers announced the conference had attracted almost exactly 1,000 registered attendees!

I am further impressed with that number because a high percentage of those attendees were from outside Israel, including people from Australia, South Africa, Russia, Brazil, Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, New Zealand, Jamaica, Thailand, and India. They all paid rather high prices for overseas flights to attend this conference. I’d call that a success.

Almost 200 presentations, workshops, luncheons, and banquets were held during the five days. Actually, it was really four and a half days as the events ended about noon time on Friday. I won’t list all the events as that has already been done at Check that site for all the details.

My highlight of the week occurred when I was invited to address a very large audience at the Thursday evening closing banquet. I am not certain of the number of banquet attendees, but it was obviously the largest audience I have ever addressed. From the speakers’ podium, it looked like the audience stretched from one horizon to another. I managed to proceed through my presentation on “the future of genealogy research techniques” despite the butterflies in my stomach.

I have assembled a slide show of some pictures that I took. You can see it if you click here. Also, take a look at the conference web site at to learn more about this very interesting conference.

One slightly humorous thing happened when everyone checked in. Actually, it was a very good thing although it confused many people, including myself.

Like many other genealogy conferences, each attendee received the handouts, a daily planner, biographies of all the presenters, and abstracts of the presentations on a flash drive. The planner, biographies, and abstracts all were provided in both English and Hebrew. The problem was that many of us didn’t recognize the thing in our conference bags!

See the picture below. It looks like a credit card. While there was writing on both sides of the “card,” none of words indicated the purpose of this card. I knew it wasn’t a credit card because it was a bit too thick and it didn’t have a magnetic strip on the back. But what was it?

I must have looked at the thing a dozen times before I realized the funny indentations on the left side actually marked a pop-out USB connector. It was a flash drive!

Feeling a bit sheepish, I popped out the connector, inserted the USB connector into my laptop, and immediately copied all the items to my laptop computer. A minute or two later, I copied the same files from the laptop to my iPad and iPhone. I really enjoyed having all that reference material with me when attending the various sessions.

Actually, the credit-card-sized flash drive was really a blessing. It is easy to carry and yet is more difficult to lose than a normal flash drive. Once I figured it out, I decided it was a good idea.

I am writing these words about two hours after the conference ended. I am headed to bed shortly as I have to get up at 3:30 AM to take a taxi to Ben Gurion Airport and catch an early morning flight to London. There will be a change of planes in London, and then I’ll arrive back in the U.S. late tomorrow evening. Actually, it will be early morning the following day Israeli time, and I am sure my internal bio-clock will require few days to adjust to the 7-hour time zone change.

To Michael Goldstein, Chairman of this year’s IAJGS conference, and to the many other volunteers who worked hard to make this year’s conference a success, I can only say תודה רבה (“Toda rabah” or “Thank you”). I enjoyed myself and, based on the smiles on the faces of about 1,000 other people, I believe everyone else enjoyed themselves also.

I would also like to thank the sponsors for making this conference possible: Diamond Sponsor MyHeritage, Platinum Sponsors FamilySearch,, Mr. Harvey Krueger, Gold Sponsor Yad Vashem, Silver Sponsor JewishGen, and Bronze Sponsors the Ruderman Family Foundation, Blumbergs, the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center, and Family Tree DNA.

For more information about the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), look at

For more information about this year’s IAJGS conference, look at

The 2016 IAJGS conference will be held in Seattle (see while the 2015 conference will be held in Orlando (web site not yet available). Mark your calendars now.


That flash drive is a terrific addition! ‘Glad you figured it out.


jerusalem conference-Great breakfasts. I would have preferred if all lectures had been recorded. I also would have preferred the regular thumb drive. Having attended many conferences, this one had its pluses and minuses. I enjoyed the conference but the hotel location was terrible. It should have been closer to the old city as all travel required taxis.The staff were unhelpful. Hotel needs a sign regarding required thursday airport shuttle reservations. The resource room was easy to use. I was glad to have attended in Israel.


    Jean-Pierre Stroweis July 12, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    This is the only hotel in town with this number of halls for parallel lectures. In addition the hotel is conveniently located for whoever goes to the archives (National Library, JDC, Yad VaShem and the Central Zionist Archives) or daily comes from outside Jerusalem. Finally, if you want to go to the Old City, the light train is perfect.


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