Why Our Jewish Genealogy Conference is Coming to Warsaw

The Polish Legislature recently passed a law which is generating some reaction internationally. After some internal discussion, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) is moving ahead with our plans to hold the 2018 Conference in Warsaw. In this special conference we expect to focus on Jewish Genealogy while highlighting the continuing dialogue with the people of Poland about our shared heritage and past.

We are in contact with several of our traditional partners in Poland and Israel, and we are following the example of the American Jewish Committee, the Joint Distribution Committee, Yad Vashem, Beit Hatfutsot, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Forum for Dialogue Among Nations and other respected parties. We are watching groups such as the March of the Living who will be observing their 30th anniversary this year. All these groups are noticeably NOT cancelling their plans. We believe in continuing dialogue between people of different perspectives and in supporting the Jewish Community of Poland today.

Remembering that this is not a conference about the Shoah (Holocaust) but is about Jewish Genealogy, we are still entertaining suggestions from our partners that we include panel discussions about Responsibility for Preserving Memory and even about Stereotypes between Jews and Poles. We will continue to monitor the situation very carefully as we proceed, but we have strong, positive partners—including the Polish State Archives, The POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute—all of whom stand ready with us to discuss the historical past honestly and openly and we remain confident that this will be an historic conference because of our gathering in Warsaw, Poland.

Just this week, Jewish genealogists successfully reunited Polish-born first cousins separated by the Shoah and their story is expected to be presented at our August conference. In this case, an abandoned baby not only has learned she has living family in Israel, but has now—for the first time—seen photos of her lost parents and sibling(s?) whom she thought she would never know. Genealogy changes people’s lives. And that’s why we are meeting this summer in Warsaw.

I hope you will show your commitment to our project by registering for early bird registration through our website: www.iajgs2018.org. I would love to add your name to the almost 260 (†) people who have already registered for the conference, making this one of—if not the—largest early registrations in the 38-year history of the IAJGS conferences.

Thanks again for your plans to join us. It will be a truly unique conference.

All the best,

Robinn Magid
Berkeley, California
IAJGS 2018 Warsaw Conference Lead Co-Chair
Robinn@iajgs2018.org

(†) The number of registrants was updated by the author on February 16, 2018.

 

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