Category Archives: Announcements

The IAJGS Conference App is Live

The IAJGS 2017 Conference App is now available on your favorite smartphone. If you don't have a smartphone, it can also be used on any computer. Go to to download the app to your phone or use it on your computer. (You will need to create an account on a computer, or to use the app on multiple devices.)

We have a multi-year app for IAJGS, so if you already have it on your phone from a previous year, you can simply open the app, find the menu option to Exit to Show List, and download the latest year.

There is so much to do in the app, this post could get a little long. (Please note that some things may change after this post is written, but it should be better or provide more options.)

The main options across the top of the app are: Home, Exhibitors, Maps, Events, Speakers, and Search. Additional main menu items shown on the Home screen include: My Schedule, Photo Gallery, Social Media, Attendees, Info Pages, What's On Now, and Exit to Events List.

By searching through the Events, you can see individual sessions at the conference. Tap on the star and it will be saved to My Schedule, where you can view all of your events. You can also add custom events, for example, if you have a meeting with a mentor, or you arrange for lunch or dinner with a friend, tap on the plus sign to add any event.

Please visit the list of Exhibitors to see who will be in our Exhibit Hall. And be sure to visit them in person sometime during the week.

The sessions are listed under Events. You can browse by Day, Track, and Type. You can also use the Search icon at the top right to search for anything and it will show you results in the Events, Speakers, and other areas of the app.

Bonus feature: From the Browse by Day view, if you tap on the calendar icon to the right of the word Events, you will see a colorful view of the schedule by tracks.

Speakers should be self-explanatory. You can see all the sessions presented by each speaker.

You may add photos to the Photo Gallery. Please do so during the conference. Also note that if you provide us with really nice photos, we might use them for future publicity. Don't let that stop you though. (If we have a way to identify the photographer, we'll give you credit.)

Social Media will show you conference activity as seen on Twitter and Facebook. You can log in to both right inside the app and share with the rest of us.

Info Pages is where you will find maps and other documents, as we may add other information.

What's On Now will show what is happening now. There's nothing now, the week before the conference, so we'll all find out how that works next week.

Did you notice we skipped over Attendees? We get a lot of questions about this section. You will not find a list of all attendees here, only those who create a public profile from within the app. To do that, tap on the hamburger icon to the left of Dashboard and add your profile. Be sure to mark it as public. It takes at least 15 minutes to sync, so you won't find yourself in the attendee list immediately. You can mark other attendees as friends and contact them from within the app. When you view someone, you can mark them as a favorite with the star, send a friend request, or request a meeting using the handshake icon.

On the right of Dashboard, there is a gear icon for settings. From there, you can also access your profile. Additionally, there is an option for Multi Device Sync, if you want to use the app on multiple devices, such as a phone and a tablet, and have the app remember your data from each device on the other.

As the conference unfolds, there will be Alerts that you will receive through the app. For example, we try to inform you of any schedule changes, cancellations, and other reminders. Alerts will appear in orange near the top of the main screen.

There is even more that the app can do, including allow you to take notes during sessions (use the pencil icon) and then download those notes or email them to yourself.

And don't forget to rate the sessions after they have concluded by viewing each session and tapping on the star icon.

Don't be afraid to tap on anything if you don't know what it does. Just try it and see.

Rooms Selling Out – Special Procedure for Changing Reservations

There is still "room in the inn", but response to this year’s conference has been so incredibly positive that our IAJGS room block in the Swan Resort is maintaining a waiting list for Thursday 7/27 and Friday 7/28!  If you are planning to attend, please book a room through Wednesday and put yourself on the waiting list for Thursday and Friday if you wish a room on those two nights.  We fully expect that the wait list will clear between now and the conference.

Current participants can help!   If you are holding a reservation at the Swan for any evenings during the conference, and know that you will NOT be using them because you have found the perfect room mate or are bringing your RV, please notify ADAM@IAJGS2017.ORG so that we may reassign your reservation for any of those nights to another IAJGS attendee ourselves (your hotel deposit to be promptly returned to you)


If you do not follow this procedure, but instead cancel via the hotel, we will lose the room from our IAJGS conference block and it may not be available to one of your fellow Jewish genealogists. Without your knowing it, the person you are helping could be your good friend!

Notwithstanding the special procedure, it is not too late to register for the conference and book rooms.  If the hotel tells you that a room is "full", NOT TO WORRY!  Book your rooms  and get on any waiting lists offered. With the cooperation of your fellow IAJGS attendees, we are sure we will find a room for everyone who wishes to attend!

Visit to sign up for our Facebook page and/or subscribe to our blog.

Adam Brown - Diane Jacobs - Dennis Rice

Co-Chairs IAJGS 2017 Orlando

Answer your DNA questions at IAJGS 2017 Orlando!

Don't miss out on a golden opportunity to make sense of your DNA results at IAJGS 2017 Orlando with over two dozen lectures, workshops and mentoring sessions on all aspects of DNA research!

Experienced practitioners of autosomal DNA analysis such as Israel Pickholz,  Lara Diamond, and Schelly Dardashti will discuss the particular challenges of endogamy faced by Jewish genealogists.

Representatives of DNA test providers such as FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and Ancestry will describe how to understand their results in our Sunday EXPO! and again throughout the week at their booths in the conference Exhibit Hall.

In addition, seasoned DNA project managers will lead participants in a four-part series that lasts all week. In DNA 101: Solving Research Problems with DNA Testing, Rachel Unkefer will discuss why genealogists are disappointed in the outcome when they begin testing without a concrete goal in mind. She will describe how successful testing begins with posing questions, and then selecting the correct DNA tests and family members to answer those questions. Attendees will learn how to set testing goals and how to navigate the testing and analysis processes.

In the next session in the sequence, DNA 201: The Next Steps, Family Tree DNA project managers  Rachel Unkefer, Janet Akaha, Gil Bardige, Adam Brown, Itzhak Epstein, Zach Gordon, Michael Waas, Sidney Sachs, Max Heffler,  and others will work collaboratively with participants to assess the current status of their own research and discuss strategies for moving forward.  This session will be followed all week long with group and one-on-one mentoring sessions to help attendees make the best use of their autosomal, Y-DNA and mitochondrial results.

On the Y chromosome front, DNA 301: What Y-DNA Lineages Can Tell Us About Jewish History and Migration will focus on  “Next Generation Sequencing” (NGS) products like FTDNA’s Big Y and others. The panel of “citizen scientists” will describe how they have begun mapping out genetic trees that are far more accurate than ever before possible.

Lastly, DNA 401: The Key to Successful DNA Projects will feature a panel of DNA project administrators who will describe how to organize geographic, surname, and haplogroup subclade projects; whether to include Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA and/or autosomal DNA testing in proposed projects; techniques for keeping participants engaged; and best practices.

Computer workshops will focus on tools such as GEDMatch, Lazarus, and McKee that are used by genealogists to parse autosomal and Y chromosome results. Family genealogists such as Mark Strauss (both Ashkenazi and Sephardi) who have undertaken DNA projects to complete their family trees will also describe their strategies and successes.  Jeff Paull and his team will describe their rabbinic DNA research, in particular their current work on the well-known Twersky dynasty.

On Monday evening of the conference, Jewish DNA pioneer Dr. Harry Ostrer and linguist Alexandre Beider will deliver a lecture entitled “Setting the Record Straight: DNA and Yiddish as Evidence for the Origins of Ashkenazi Jews”, and at Thursday evening’s banquet, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, host of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” will speak on “Genetics and Genealogy in America”.

On Thursday afternoon, Karen Grinzaid from Emory University will address Jewish genetic diseases and options for affordable and accessible genetic screening for Jewish families.

Adam Brown, co-chair of this year’s IAJGS conference is also the Managing Editor of and the Administrator of the 5,000 participant AvotaynuDNA Project.  Adam will provide an update on the Project's Sephardi DNA initiative that is entering its second year of testing Sephardi men all over the world in collaboration with genetic genealogy pioneer Dr. Karl Skorecki of the Technion.

So if making use of your DNA results to illuminate your family history is on your agenda, or you simply want to make sense of the DNA test results you have already obtained,  then Orlando 2017 is the place to be!  Register today at while there are still hotel rooms available!

The IAJGS 2017 Conference Schedule is Now Online!

The IAJGS 2017 Conference Schedule is Now Online!

This year's exciting and jam-packed IAJGS conference schedule -  containing  310 events presented by over 150 experts in just about every field relevant to Jewish genealogy - is now available online!

Visit for the full details!

The full schedule of lectures, panels, breakfasts, computer workshops, films,  evening keynote lectures, and numerous mentoring opportunities will run from 9am on Sunday, July 23 through noon on Friday, July 28.

Don't miss any of our delicious offerings - book now for the week and bring your family to enjoy Orlando's many shopping, theme park, and museum attractions!

If you have been waiting to see the schedule before registering for the conference, it's time to review the conference offerings and register!

Early registration (and the discounts that come with that) ends on April 16, 2017 as does 100% assurance of an available room (we sold out last year!).   We do not recommend delaying registration.

To register for the conference, click the REGISTRATION tab above.

Last year's conference room ran out of hotel rooms.  So that you don't miss out, book a room by visiting the HOTEL RESERVATIONS tab above.

The published schedule is an interactive listing that you can  scroll through from beginning to end for a full view of the conference programs, or you can search by title, keyword, speaker's name and session date!

In addition to the presentations and evening events offered as part of your conference registration, there are optional offerings that may require additional fees. These include catered Special Interest Group luncheons, computer workshops and the Thursday evening banquet. See the conference website for additional options.

Keep an eye out for the launch of our mobile Conference application. The app will let you browse and search the list, build and update your personal daily schedule, get in touch with other conference-goers and receive updates about new developments and schedule changes.

The schedule is preliminary, and changes and exciting additions are very likely over the next few months – even up to the day of the event – so be sure to sign up for our blog, Facebook page and Twitter accounts at the bottom of the page.

If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to  contact the conference co-chairs at



View the IAJGS 2017 Conference Program Tracks!

OK, IAJGS conference fans! We have been deluged with requests for our conference schedule and while we are adjusting times and rooms to accommodate the over 300 presentations, meetings, workshops, mentoring sessions, breakfasts, luncheons, banquets, keynote lectures and other assorted offerings, we thought we would release to the world the Tracking Plan that is our guide in planning the event!

Click here to see the incredibly diverse offerings of this years conference, which we have grouped into three program tracks for each morning and afternoon of the conference.

The programs this year are spectacular, covering all the subjects near and dear to our hearts from past conferences, but in addition we are adding full week-long tracks on DNA (both YDNA and autosomal) and on Converso genealogy with special attention on records and history from the Inquisition and the Western Hemisphere. And on opening Sunday, our technology exhibitors will lecture all day on the ins and outs of their products. If you are a new participant, we will turn you into a knowledgeable practitioner; if you are a veteran who attends only occasionally, this is the IAJGS conference not to be missed! Stand by for the detailed schedule, which is only a day from publication. Last year the IAJGS conference ran out of hotel rooms, so don't delay in signing up for the conference and getting yourself a room and flight. For further information, please feel free to contact the conference chairs at

To register for our conference, click the REGISTRATION tab above.

To book a room at our hotel, click the HOTEL RESERVATIONS tab above.


Announcing IAJGS 2017 Orlando!

WDW Swan 1038 Featured

We are pleased to officially anounce the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort, Orlando, FL!

Don’t miss our annual reunion of top Jewish genealogists!

Sponsored by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando, the Conference will be held on the grounds of Walt Disney World, at the The Disney World Swan Resort at 1200 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Orlando, FL.

Dozens of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment venues are within walking distance and hundreds more are only a short boat or shuttle bus ride away.

Our discounted hotel rooms are currently available from July 17 to August 2, so you are welcome to come early and/or stay late to explore Disney World and Orlando's many attractions with your family!

Greet old friends, make new ones and take your family search to the next level, with:

  • Superb lectures and workshops as you have come to expect
  • Meetings for all experience levels, from first-timers to conference veterans
  • Hands-on mentoring with experts in our field
  • In-depth DNA workshops to answer your questions
  • Databases, translators, and search tools available to all
  • Expanded exhibit hall displaying the latest family discovery tools and technology
  • Networking through popular Special Interest Group events
  • Special emphasis on:
    • Multigenerational storytelling
    • Jews in Florida, the Caribbean and the South
    • Passing on your family legacy

Stay abreast of our conference plans by subscribing to our blog, our discussion group, our Facebook page and our Twitter feed.

For further information, contact!

Call for Presentations for 37th IAJGS Conference in Orlando


The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando invite you to submit presentation proposals for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, to be held at Orlando's Walt Disney World Swan Resort from Sunday, July 23 through Friday, July 28, 2017. The purpose of these presentations is to inform, instruct, and inspire attendees to discover, preserve, and share their family history.

If you wish to register to make a program submission, you may submit a presentation using the Call for Papers. Email submissions will not be accepted. All proposals must be submitted using this website.

If you want instead to edit a proposal that was submitted earlier to the Orlando conference, please click the Abstract Service Center which is where, until Sunday, January 15, 2017, you can make changes to proposals that have already been submitted.

We are particularly interested in presentations that enable our participants to enhance their genealogical research by teaching them to:

  1. Discover their family history using new research tools and resources;
  2. Preserve their family histories and traditions; and
  3. Share their family history with future generations of their family and with fellow genealogists.

As this will be the first IAJGS conference held in the southern United States, we have embraced the "The Jews of Florida, the South, and the Caribbean" as a theme of the conference.  Given the location, we also expect that there will be interest the genealogy of Iberian conversos.

We also anticipate attendance by genealogists and family historians of widely varying levels of experience and training.  The common denominator among all, however, is a thirst for the kinds of tools and strategies that will enable them to "take their research to the next level".

Description of Presentation

Presentations and panel discussions will generally be 75 minutes, which includes 15 minutes of questions. Hands-on Computer Workshops will be 2 hours in length.


Speakers may submit any number of proposals. To allow different voices to be heard at the conference, we will generally choose no more than three presentations from any one speaker. Because of the limited number of scheduling slots, and the large number of people applying to speak, It is not a reflection on the quality of your proposal if we do not accept more.


Panels grouping speakers with varying expertise on a particular topic are viewed favorably as they make efficient use of conference time and allow for different perspectives on specific topics. If there are two or more authors on a presentation, the first author should submit his/her information first. When you get to the page for reviewing your submission, there will be an icon identified as "Add an Additional Presenter" that will allow you to add more authors to the proposal.

Complimentary Registration

Individual speakers having at least one proposal accepted will receive complimentary conference registration. While we will certainly consider multi-presenter presentations and panel discussions, only the primary speaker for a particular multi-speaker presentation is eligible for complimentary conference registration. There is no conference registration waiver for participating as a panelist, although complementary SIG luncheon tickets for conference speakers and participants willing to facilitate break-out sessions for conference attendees who wish to dig deeper into topics presented in a speaker's area of expertise may be provided. Terms of inducements and break-out programs are within the sole discretion of the Program Committee.

The deadline for submission of proposals is January 15, 2017! Submitters of proposals will be notified by email no later than February 26, 2017, as to whether or not their proposal has been accepted. You may contact the Program Committee at with any questions or comments.

We look forward to receiving your proposals and thank you for your interest in our Conference.

Adam Brown
Diane Jacobs

Conference Co-Chairs

Sign Up for the Orlando IAJGS 2017 Discussion List

Discussion Lists for IAJGS conferences have been wonderful venues for questions and exchanges of information about up-coming conferences. The Discussion List for the 2017 Orlando IAJGS Conference is now operational and available for subscription.

To subscribe, visit the Discussion List Page at

Be sure to read the Discussion List Guidelines before you subscribe. Any messages posted will be publicly viewable.

You may subscribe in either non-digest or digest mode. In non-digest mode you will receive new messages individually as they are posted. In digest mode, messages will be sent to you in one batch each day.

Conference volunteers will review messages sent to the list before deciding to post them. This will ensure that non-conference-related messages and spam will not be posted, that civility will be maintained, and that questions best answered by the conference planning team will be answered in a timely manner.

Before sending a message to the list, please check the conference FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) to be sure your question has not already been answered. As plans for the conference develop, we will expand the FAQs to include additional topics.

You may access the FAQs at from the main navigation bar at the top of every page. "Frequently Asked Questions" is located under the "About" menu.

Subscribe to the IAJGS 2017 Blog

There will be several ways to stay informed about plans for IAJGS 2017 in Orlando.

Our website at will be a major source of information. There will, of course, be the IAJGS Conference Facebook page and the ever popular discussion list. And then, there will be this blog. You should consider subscribing to it.

Someone once asked me to tell her the advantages of a blog over, say, the discussion list, Facebook, or Twitter. They each have their strong points. Probably the biggest advantage of a blog is that anyone may read a blog post without joining a particular website or establishing a password. Think of the blog as you would a website - no membership is required.

subscribeCompared to discussion list or Facebook posts, a blog provides a platform for more lengthy and perhaps complex information and explanations. Images and videos may be easily included in blog posts. And previous blog posts many be easily searched when you wish to find information or reread some of our pre-conference recommendations or advice.

Our goal here is to help you prepare for a great conference. We will keep you informed as plans for the conference coalesce. There will also be posts on research opportunities in the Seattle area as well as tourism and recreational options. Closer to the conference we intend to supply some tutorials on using the conference app and information about speakers, presentations, and exhibitors.

If you would like to stay up-to-date as we post articles on this blog, we suggest you subscribe to it. When subscribing, one may opt to receive email notifications of new blog posts or use a blog subscription aggregator, such as Feedly.

feedly-512While on any IAJGS conference web page, in the sidebar on the left or the footer at the bottom, look for blog subscription options.

To receive email notifications whenever the blog is updated, provide your information in the form and click "Subscribe".

Or if you follow - or plan to follow - several blogs, then an RSS reader (blog aggregator service) might be your best choice. Many blog readers prefer to use Feedly. When clicking on the Feedly icon that is located at the top of the browser window, it is easy to see which of the blogs to which you subscribe  have added content since your last visited.

If you would like to view a tutorial on how to start with Feedly, view this blog post:

Announcing the IAJGS 2017 Website


Welcome to the blog for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, on 23-28 July 2017.

During the months head we will keep you informed as plans for the conference develop.  We have established a conference website at

More information will be added to the website as the conference approaches. Stay abreast of our conference plans by subscribing to our blog, our discussion group, our Facebook page and our Twitter feed!