Belarus SIG Coordinator Stepping Down Immediately #belarus

David M. Fox <davefox73@...>

Dear SIG Members:

This message is one of the hardest things I have had to do. However, the
time has come for me to step down as your SIG Coordinator, effective
immediately. The SIG has been a labor of love since we started with a group
of about 20 people at a late night unscheduled meeting at the Los Angeles
IAJGS Conference in 1998. After we had decided to form a Belarus SIG, I
asked for people interested in volunteering to be the SIG coordinator. No
one wanted the job, so I agreed to take on the job because I felt it was
important to have a group that was devoted to Jewish genealogy research in
what is now Belarus . It is now over six and a half years later and I am
still the coordinator because no one else was willing to take over the
leadership. It is not healthy for any organization to continue with the
same leader. An organization needs new ideas, new directions, and new
approaches to make it grow and prosper. Our organization has grown >from 20
to over 1,750 and I am sure there is someone among you who are better
qualified to take the Belarus SIG forward in the years ahead. I have been
trying to find someone to take over as the SIG coordinator for quite some
time, but have not been successful. I was hoping someone would come forward
so there could be an orderly transfer of leadership, but that was not to be.
Even so, I tried to hang in longer, but a few recent incidents have finally
driven me to step down now. One involved a former member of the SIG who
refused to be a team player and wait for the SIG to obtain all the records
for the shtetl. As a result of his selfish desire to get his own records
from Belarus for a single shtetl, he has contributed to closing down access
to the Minsk archive by the SIG. A second recent effort by a SIG member to
try and put me into a situation of choosing sides in a private dispute
finally broke the camels back.

I have always tried to be helpful and fair in my dealings with SIG members,
translators, and researchers. While I have no personal family ties to
shtetls in Vitebsk, Grodno, and Vilna, I made efforts to push projects in
these gubernia. Over the years, I have been blessed with some great people
who helped to make the SIG what it is today: Risa Heywood, Elsbeth Paikin,
Vitaly Charny, Mike Meshenberg, Edward Rosenbaum, Nancy Holden, Fran Boch,
Paula Zieselman and Joanne Saltman (I appologize in advance for leaving
anyone off this list). What made it so wonderful for me was that we all
worked so well together. There was no acrimony or infighting, unlike many
other organizations. No one was on an ego trip and it was a great team
effort. I would also like to thank the many others who have volunteered in
one capacity or another to make the SIG so successful. In addition, I want
to thank all of you who opened your wallets so generously to allow the SIG
to accomplish it's tasks. Last but not least, I would like to thank
JewishGen and it's leadership team for all their support over the years.
The Belarus SIG organized within the JewishGen to avoid a lot of
administrative burdens and was the first SIG to be so organized. Other SIGs
have followed in our footsteps. While some people thought the SIG lost its
independence by how we organized, I still think it was the right way to
avoid the administrative headaches of having a treasurer, filing tax
returns, etc.

There is much more to do and I hope that all of the workers will continue
doing what they have been doing and try to make the transition to a new SIG
coordinator as smooth as possible. This evening I spoke with Susan King and
she will be forming a transition team. I urge anyone who is interested in
helping the SIG to contact Susan <> or Joanna
Fletcher <> as soon as possible.

I look forward to working on documenting my own genealogy, writing a family
history, and spending more time with my grandkids and my lovely wife who
sometimes thought I was married to the SIG and not to her. She has been
most patient and considerate in putting up with my many hours on the
computer doing SIG business.

My best wishes to all and thank you again for all your support over the


David Fox
Arnold, MD

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