Tuesday, August 14, 2018

IAJGS2018 - Part 1

I'm just back from IAJGS2018 in Warsaw!  I'm extremely jetlagged, but the trip was very worth it.  This will be the first of several posts I plan to make about the trip.  You can read other posts I've made from this and other IAJGS conferences here.

I made a few non-genealogical stops on my way to Warsaw, but I also learned about the Jewish communities in those locations--and their fascinating histories.  My first stop was in Helsinki, Finland.
The Shul (Synagogue) in Helsinki

Helsinki was unseasonably warm (hot, in a city that doesn't have much air conditioning!) but beautiful.  I explored all over the city, and I took a tour of the shul (synagogue), where I learned about the history of the city's Jewish community.  Finland was part of the Russian Empire--but not part of the Pale of Settlement, in which Jews were permitted to live.  The first group of Jews permitted to live in Finland were forced conscripts from within the Pale of Settlement who were discharged from duty after 25 years in the army, and happened to be in Finland.  They were permitted to stay.  The community was always rather small.

When WWII started, Finland was allied with Germany (because they were fighting against Russia).  Although the Germans in the country tried to convince Finland to send its Jews to concentration camps, the Finnish government refused.  Eight Jews were killed in total from the entire country.

So the Helsinki shul was actually used as a synagogue throughout the 20th century, unlike many other places--such as the next country I visited.

I also took a day trip by ferry to Tallinn, Estonia.  Tallinn is a beautiful city, with an intact medieval Old Town.

Tallinn photos.  Unrelated to genealogy, but TALLINN!!

Estonia's Jewish community was also founded by Russian Empire conscripts who were allowed to remain in Estonia.  But their community wasn't as fortunate as Helsinki's.  While many of the population managed to flee east into the Soviet Union and survived, most were killed by the Nazis.  Estonia was actually the first country in Europe that the Germans proclaimed to be judenrein (free of Jews).

Since all of the pre-war synagogues had been destroyed and the remaining community was so small, there was no official synagogue in Tallinn for years.  Just over ten years ago, the community opened a new synagogue.  It's very modern-looking and airy.
Tallinn Shul (Synagogue)
So after Finland and Estonia, I finally headed to Warsaw, where IAJGS began on Sunday.  I checked in, dropped off my stuff, and I explored Warsaw's Old Town (which was pretty much re-built post-WWII, and it was kind of Disneyland-like, because it was too perfect).
Warsaw's Old Town
Then, I went back to the hotel to start IAJGSing!
Registered for the Conference!
Sunday afternoon was the Share Fair.  Different organizations had tables to help people, each specializing in a different type of research.  JewishGen's SIGs had a large presence.  I represented JewishGen's Subcarpathian SIG, sitting next to H-SIG.
Me (representing Subcarpathia SIG) and Jordan Auslander (representing Hungarian SIG), at the Share Fair
The Share Fair was very well attended, and there were lots of good questions asked and answered.  I managed to get away from my table for a few minutes to check out the rest of the area as well.
Some of the JewishGen volunteers answering questions at the Share Fair
And then the conference began in earnest.  But you'll have to wait for my next post to hear more.  Stay tuned!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. Loved Tallinn! Your photos brought back happy memories of two trips a few years ago. Was in Helsinki but never saw that magnificent shul. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Can't wait to hear more! Glad you saw/enjoyed Helsinki & Tallin. I thought they were both very interesting, too. A different description for the look of Warsaw. Keep the news coming.

  3. I am sorry I could not remain at the conference to attend your lecture on records research on SubCarpathia, my mother's area. How can we found out what you discussed on this topic.

    1. Most of what I covered was in the email I sent to the SC distro the week before the conference. When I have a chance, I'll likely send a further update.

  4. Wow. I never knew that most of Finland's Jewish community survived WWII. A real testament to the country's leadership at that time, I suppose.