Henry Louis Gates Jr., host of the PBS hit series “Finding Your Roots,” will be the featured speaker on “Genetics and Genealogy in America” on Thursday evening at the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies (IAJGS) Conference, to be held at the Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando, Florida. I will also be at the conference and expect a huge crowd will be there as well.
Sunday evening will feature “Alexander Hamilton, the Jews, and the American Revolution,” presented by Dr. Robert Watson, professor, historian, author, and media commentator.
Wednesday evening, there will be a special showing of the 2016 acclaimed documentary “Aida’s Secrets” (sponsored by MyHeritage). This documentary is a story about family secrets, lies, high drama and generations of contemporary history. The international story begins with World War II and concludes with an emotional 21st century family reunion. Izak was born inside the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in 1945 and sent for adoption in Israel. Utilizing the resources of Yad Vashem and MyHeritage, secret details of his birth mother, an unknown brother in Canada and his father’s true identity slowly emerge in this extremely personal investigative film.
Featured Monday evening, acclaimed expert and author on etymology and geographic distribution of Jewish surnames, Alexander Beider and Harry Ostrer will debate “Setting the Record Straight: What Yiddish and DNA Tell Us About Ashkenazi Origins” (sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA).
On Tuesday evening, “1917: A Turning Point in American Jewish History” (sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles) will be presented by Hasia Diner, author and Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish history at New York University.
The conference will include special emphasis on finding ancestors through DNA, finding Converso/Anusim ancestors, Jews in Florida, the Caribbean and the South, and strategies for passing your family legacy on to younger generations. Conference tracks, workshops, and sessions will focus on how to trace your ancestry through the Diaspora: in Poland, Galicia, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, Austria, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Sub-Carpathia, Czech Republic, North Africa, South Africa, Brazil, Bessarabia/Moldova, and more. The special aspects of tracing Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, and rabbinic family lines will be covered.
Dozens of other speakers will be offering presentations, including one by myself. Will I see you there?
More than 100 experts will lecture, hold workshops, and provide one-on-one consultations. Attendees can come for one day or the whole conference or anything in between.
EXPO! will be held on Sunday, July 23, the first day of the conference. EXPO! is free and open to the public. EXPO! attendees can visit the Exhibit Hall, SHARE Fair and special lectures. How to use the latest family discovery tools and technologies will be described by top names in the field from Ancestry, FamilySearch, Family Tree DNA, Family Tree Maker, Geni, MyHeritage, RootsMagic, and others. At the SHARE Fair, dozens of organizations specializing in records, maps and other tools for family history research from various areas will have their resources on display. While EXPO! is free, pre-registration is required and there will be a parking charge at the hotel.