SIG Conference Guidelines


Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are a very important part of the Jewish genealogical community, often with dozens or even hundreds of members scattered throughout the world. Because so many Jewish genealogists attend the annual IAJGS Conference, it is a logical and convenient place for SIGs to hold annual meetings and to organize lectures and other programming of interest to the SIG, its members, and the general Jewish genealogical community at the Conference. The Conference offers resources to SIGs, such as meeting space and some assistance for SIG-sponsored speakers, provided that a SIG applies and is approved in advance. The Program Committee anticipates accommodating all established SIGs who submit their applications to by December 15, 2015.  Note that preferences for specific meeting days and times cannot be guaranteed, but every effort will be made by the Conference Program Committee to accommodate preferences based on date application is received and scheduling demands. SIGs will be notified of their requested event scheduling by February 15, 2016.


All SIGs are invited to participate in the SHARE Fair, which will be held on Sunday, August 7, 2016 from 1:30 pm until 5:00 pm, at no charge.  The Conference and the Sheraton Seattle will provide one or two draped 6’ tables and two chairs per table for each registered SIG (and JewishGen Research Group) to display SIG materials, maps, documents, books, and to offer research assistance, etc.  The Fair is an excellent way to promote your programs during the week, recruit new members and spread the word about your activities to a large Sunday crowd of attendees.

SIG Programming Blocks

The Conference will allocate meeting space to SIGs in a special SIG programming block of up to three 75- minute session periods (a session period is the time allocated for most lectures), as time and space constraints allow. To participate, established SIGs must request a programming block by submitting the SIG Application for the 2016 IAJGS Conference to the Conference Program Committee.  If a SIG wishes to request additional sessions, we will take that request into consideration when looking at all the program submissions.

“SIG Programming Blocks” are intended to be used by SIGs to hold annual membership meetings, lectures and other SIG programming. SIG programming may also include a separate SIG luncheon, which the Program Committee will strive to schedule to coincide with the SIG Programming Block. A SIG may choose not to request a programming block, but still request meeting space for a luncheon or a SIG-sponsored speaker or a speaker for any general conference session. All proposals for speakers must be submitted on the Abstract Submission tab under Programming at the conference website. The proposals must be completed and submitted by December 15, 2015. The Conference Program Committee will approve all speakers.

SIG Luncheons

SIG luncheons will be scheduled Sunday through Thursday from 12:15 pm to 2 pm. The Program Committee will try to schedule the SIG luncheons to coincide with the SIG Programming Block. A SIG luncheon must have at least 25 (twenty-five) paid attendees or the luncheon may be canceled at the discretion of the Conference. When the Program Committee learns of the hotel’s proposed costs of the SIG Luncheons and Breakfasts with Experts, the person listed on the SIG Application will be notified.  Please note that each SIG will be responsible for providing volunteers to check tickets at the door and will also be responsible for handling the introductions of the speakers.

SIG Board Meetings

Meeting space for SIG Board Meetings – meetings of just the SIG organizers or boards, as opposed to general meetings of the SIG membership – may be requested separately by emailing, subject to time and space constraints. Because Boards are typically made up of a small number of people, however, it is usually not difficult for Boards to find space to meet on their own, such as in hotel rooms, in quiet areas of the Conference space, or in unused meeting rooms, or even in the room used for the SIG Programming Block, so a separate request for meeting space (i.e., outside of a Programming Block) for Boards will be considered, but given a lower priority.

SIG-Sponsored Speakers

The Conference organizers recognize that SIGs may wish to sponsor presentations by people with specialized knowledge or expertise, or who are leaders of archives or other institutions and organizations. In many cases, such as with archivists and experts from Europe, these speakers must travel a long distance at considerable expense. The Conference Program Committee is happy to work with SIGs to attract such speakers by offering some financial support, subject to the following criteria and terms:

  1. The Conference Program Committee will provide the following assistance for one sponsored speaker for each SIG: waive registration for the invited speaker (the speaker only, not any family members who may be accompanying the speaker), provide a subsidy to the SIG of up to $600 (or half of the speaker’s travel expenses, whichever is less) and provide up to three nights free accommodations at the Conference hotel.  The SIG speaker or the SIG must make the speaker’s reservation at the hotel and then send an email to with the full name of the speaker, contact information, the hotel confimation number and check-in and check-out days by May 15, 2016.  (JewishGen SIGs are responsible for working with JewishGen and Avraham Groll, the JewishGen administrator at, for their funding according to the JewishGen SIG Guidelines.) The SIG is responsible for all other expenses that may be negotiated with the speaker (including luncheon and banquet fees), for helping the speaker obtain necessary travel documents, and for all other arrangements. The speaker will also receive one free single-event pass for each of his/her program/presentations (so that, for example, a family member can attend their program/presentations). Additional single-event passes will be $20 each.
  2. Speakers and their proposals must be accepted by the Program Committee, which selects all speakers. Speakers sponsored by SIGs will be given special consideration.
  3. The subject of the SIG-sponsored speaker’s talk must be applicable to the area of interest of the SIG and the speaker must be an acknowledged expert in the subject.
  4. In exchange for the free registration, subsidy and/or accommodations, the speaker is required to give at least two presentations (which includes one presentation to the SIG) and be available for a one hour question and answer session in a room provided by the Conference at a mutually agreed upon time.
  5. A SIG-sponsored speaker may also speak at the SIG luncheon, but the SIG must pay for the cost of the speaker’s lunch. A SIG may have a luncheon-only speaker, but speakers for presentations only at meals will not receive registration fee waivers, subsidies, or free accommodations. Luncheon speakers, moreover, like regular speakers, must be registered at the Conference for the entire Conference or for the day or days of their presentations or for just the luncheon using a “single-event pass” ($20). Registration of luncheon speakers is the responsibility of the SIGs.
  6. Proposals for SIG luncheon presenters and SIG-sponsored speakers must be submitted through the Conference website no later than December 15, 2015.
  7. The Conference will provide for SIG-sponsored speakers the following equipment, which is standard for all lecture rooms: lectern, microphone, basic sound system, digital projector and screen, and laptop. Luncheons will have a lectern, microphone and basic sound system. Should the SIG require any other audio/video equipment; the SIG can request the additional equipment through the Conference or provide it themselves. If there are additional costs, the SIG is responsible to pay.
  8. SIGs must complete and submit the 2016 IAJGS Conference SIG Application by December 15, 2015. Applications will be considered in a “first-come, first-served” basis with respect to the days and times when SIG Programming Blocks are scheduled. Applications received after this date will only be considered if space is available. All requests must be submitted using the SIG Conference Application form. Completed applications must be emailed to
  9. SIGs must also email to, requests for Conference Program Committee financial support and include the following by December 15, 2015: SIG-sponsored speaker’s name, title of presentations, luncheon presentation, his/her willingness to fulfill the requirements as stated above, SIG’s request for reimbursement and/or up to three nights hotel lodging and the breakdown of the estimated total costs of the SIG-sponsored speaker. SIGs will receive email notification of their approved Conference support by February 15, 2016. SIGs will receive their SIG-sponsored speaker reimbursements at the Conference after their sponsored speakers’ last presentation. The checks will be made payable to the SIG.

Please email your questions and requests to Nolan Altman, IAJGS Seattle Conference SIG/BOF Coordinator, at