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International Symposium

The Institute held an International Symposium from 10 to 12 September, 2006 on “Jewish Genealogy: Research and Teaching Priorities”, on the Hebrew University Campus at Givat Ram in Jerusalem. The event was co-sponsored by the Centre for Migration and Genealogy in the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town.

It was attended by leading experts from Europe, Israel, South Africa and the United States, who reviewed the current “state of play” of genealogical research in various areas, including in Jewish history, rabbinics, onomastics, migration studies, genetics and archives, to name but a few. Where relevant, topics were examined from both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic point of view.

The Symposium was action-oriented. Its stated aim was to develop research policies and directions for the Institute over the next two to three years and, within that, to produce a prioritized list of recommended research topics meriting early attention in each area under discussion. More than 130 possible projects were suggested. (The Institute has decided to try to launch a small number of these projects during the current academic year and has issued a “Call for Projects” in this regard – see section 2 of “Upcoming Institute Projects” on the “Projects” page of this website).

On the teaching side, the elements necessary for university courses in Jewish genealogy as well as the tools and technologies required for the teaching of those courses were discussed.

Overall, there was a sense that the Symposium was a pioneering, groundbreaking event. As Gary Mokotoff put it, “Jewish genealogical history was being made”. Concretely, the Symposium more than met its broader goals. In general terms:

  1.  It clearly demonstrated that the time for a Jewish genealogical institute has come.
  2. It refined the Institute’s “vision” and raison d’etre – to develop Jewish Genealogy into a recognized academic discipline through research and teaching at the university level.
  3. It showed that there are qualified academics throughout the scholarly world who are well qualified to conduct advanced Jewish genealogical research, often on an inter-disciplinary basis.
  4. It confirmed a perceived need to engage in teaching Jewish Genealogy at the university level and offered guidelines on how to proceed with that.
  5. It defined what marks the Institute off from other parts of the organized Jewish genealogical world and pointed to possible areas of cooperation.

Click here for greetings from the President of Israel to Symposium participants

Click here for the Symposium’s programme.

Click here for the list of participants.

Click here for a selection of the papers presented (unedited).

Click here for an article about the Symposium, from AVOTAYNU, XXII, 4, pp. 3-4