General Program Information

Information about programs for the 2016 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, to be held at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel from August 7-12, 2016 will be available as programs are created and further developed. The major highlights of the program at the Conference currently include:

Opening Morning – Genealogy for Jewish Educators

In addition to our regular scheduled sessions on Sunday, August 7, the first morning of the conference will include sessions of special interest to educators at day schools, afternoon/Sunday schools, JCC programs, Youth Groups and Adult Education.

One of the options during the registration process will be to register for these programs only.  If educators choose to stay for the entire conference they will have a discount applied to the educators’ morning.  For regular conference attendees who choose to attend these sessions, there will be an add-on cost.

Opening Session, Keynote Address

On Sunday evening, the Opening Session of the conference will officially open the Conference and will include an overview of the major Conference programs. The highlight of the Opening Session will be the Keynote Address.  This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Devin Naar,  a brilliant scholar and a spellbinding presenter who has received national attention for his work in Ladino language and literature. The Sephardic Experience in the United States will be one of the key topic tracks of the 2016 conference, making Dr. Naar a perfect fit.  Dr. Naar is chair of the UW Sephardic Studies Program and an assistant professor in the UW Department of History.


Throughout the Conference, genealogical experts will present aspects of their expertise to Conference attendees. Among the myriad methods of presentation will be lectures, workshops, panel discussions, and others to be created.

The major focus of the Conference will be on Jewish migration, with a general theme of “Westward Ho.” General topics for presentations will include European Jewry and migrations to the United States, migration of American Jewry will be migration across America, and Jews in the Western United States.

A special geographic focus will be programming based on our branches in Australia, South America, and South Africa.

Another special focus at this Conference will be the Sephardic experience in America, in all of its varied aspects.

There will be special sessions for educators on Sunday morning, as well as regular conference sessions.

Sessions will be held from Sunday until Friday noon.


On Sunday afternoon from 1:30 to 5:00 there will be a fair featuring Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Birds of a Feather (BOFs), archives and repositories, local genealogical and historical societies, and local Jewish organizations of interest.

Breakfasts with the Experts

Experts in various areas of Jewish genealogy will discuss their particular areas of expertise and answer questions over early morning breakfasts.

SIGs and BOFs

The Conference will offer many opportunities for Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Birds of a Feather (BOFs) to meet and share information, recruit new members, and add value to the Jewish genealogical community. Many SIGs will also sponsor luncheons.

Resource Room

Genealogical resource material and databases will be available for individual use in the Resource Room throughout the Conference.

Exhibitor Room

A variety of genealogically related material will be available for review and purchase, including Judaica and items unique to the Northwest.

Film Festival

There will be a series of films during the Conference, with Jewish content and content related to topics presented at the Conference. Dr. Eric Goldman is this year’s Film Festival Coordinator.

Evening Programs

Various special activities will take place in the evenings from Sunday through Wednesday. Included will be special speakers and entertainment.

Gala Banquet

A Gala Banquet will be held on Thursday, at the conclusion of the last full day of the Conference.  The conference as chosen acclaimed Legal Genealogist Judy Russell as the Banquet speaker. Holder of credentials as a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, Russell has enthralled audiences nationwide with her fascinating blend of legal and genealogical expertise.  She will also make two additional presentations on Thursday and Friday.

The conference will conclude Friday at noon.

Can’t get to every session?

Well, of course you can’t – there will be too many sessions.  However, we are going to make it easy for you to hear even the ones you miss! No, we’re not going to clone you. What we are doing is making an audio recording of every session for which the presenter consents to be recorded — and making the full set of audio recordings available for purchase before, during or after the Conference. A video version will include slides, if the presenter consents, in sync with the talk.  These can be ordered as an add-on (at a substantial discount) with registration, or at the conference. Click here for more information.