This week I’ve been busy getting my geek on. My interest in genealogy just happened to coincide with the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which is being held in my backyard in Boston. I lucked out as the last time it was in Boston was 1996.
While I’m definitely on the younger end of the crowd, I’ve discovered a group, Next Generation Jewish Genealogists, in which I’m on the older side. The group is for researchers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. A definite kinship exists among those who aren’t wearing fanny packs; us younger folks tend to glom together. As I Tweeted, you know a conference is geared for Jews of a certain age when there are little bowls of hard candy scattered about just like there are in the homes of just about any Bubbe. Although in fairness to my own Jewish grandmother, she didn’t always have hard candy. Usually it was a bowl of Andes Mints, of which I still have a fondness, and those sticks of colored candy partially covered with chocolate. (I have since found them at Economy Candy in New York. They’re called Reception Candy. I bought a pack but haven’t eaten it. I’m fairly certain the candy won’t hold up to my memory of the candy.)
Never having been to any kind of conference before, I can’t compare this one. I will say it seems quite well organized and I’m finding most of the sessions fascinating. I’ve learned how to figure out the town my ancestors are from (and I put that to work immediately and now suspect my family is not from Odessa but from Bratslav), how to search at the Center for Jewish History, that my family was from one of the most uneducated and religious parts of Latvia, new publications (well new to me–the books have been around since 1899) within which to research, how to investigate photographs, what life was like in the Russian army….
Of course much of what I’m learning is novel research. My characters are developing more robust back stories by the minute. I’m anxious to learn more and I’m anxious to get back to writing. And my butt is numb from sitting so long. I hate a numb butt. Maybe a hard candy will make it feel better….