ROM-Sig meeting in DC! #romania


leeson1@...
 

Dear fellow ROM-SIGgers, Following is a brief report about the
Washington DC IAJGS Conference. Paula and I are still traveling, but I
will do my best.

The Conference organizers >from the JGSGW did a marvelous job, and Sheri,
Ben and Elias and their team deserve loud kudos for all that they
accomplished. Many interesting speakers, and some >from less well-known
communities. The SIG Fair was a big success, with people having a
chance to go around and to speak personally with coordinators and
members of all of the SIGs. As usual, there was almost too much to
absorb, too many fascinating talks at the same time, and many local area
resources to visit. Not enough time to sleep or eat ;-) A complete
list of tapes of the lectures should be available on:
www.audiotapes.com with order information included, if you are
interested in any that you missed.

For those of you who were not able to be with us in DC for the
Conference I can tell you that we had a most exciting ROM-SIG meeting!

The room assigned to us was packed, as many more of you actually came
than had originally indicated the intent to do so. That was wonderful,
as it indicated much interest. Paula and I had been holding on to some
news that we wished to break at our meeting. Several months ago, thanks
to our member Irene Saunders Goldstein, we had been put in touch with
the Bnai Brith International, and the Director of their Romanian Jewish
Heritage Project, Stefan Maier. After discussion among us, and
consultations with Joyce Field, JewishGen Vice President for Research,
we have decided to combine our efforts to preserve the Jewish heritage
in Romania, and to try to convince the Romanian authorities to open
their Archives to genealogists. You can read more about the BBI
projects, activities, etc. by going to:
http://www.romanianjewish.org/ You can click on the blue bar
"Contribute to Romania's Jewish Heritage Project" to read all about what
they are doing. Not all of the links are yet activated, or in English ,
but that will be happening soon. You can click on the small blue box on
the left to subscribe to weekly email updates, for free.

Stefan made an excellent presentation to tell us exactly what were the
current plans and state of the Heritage project. This was followed by a
number of questions >from our members. At last, Prof. Ladislau Gyemant,
who was present, asked to take the floor. He then proceeded to offer to
share with Stefan's BBI group full access to all of the files and
records of the Institute for Jewish History at the University of Cluj,
of which he is the Director, as well as offering him office space in a
newly constructed building, where the Institute is housed . This
announcement went off like a bombshell! Everyone was on their feet,
yelling, applauding, and a large kiss was planted on the cheek of Prof.
Gyemant by Irene Goldstein! This had to be one of the most dramatic
announcements ever made to the ROM-SIG. In addition, we are now
connecting Stefan with others who are also interested in trying to
convince the Romanian government officials to open the access to their
archives that is still forbidden.

Do not expect rapid results - or any, as a matter of fact. There is
great reluctance
to cooperate in any way, whether in the Archives or the various Jewish
communities. These last are small, and members are aged, very poor and
not in good health. There is much suspicion and fear involved in
sharing any records, and sometimes a complete lack of interest. It will
be a tough fight, but we are willing to do our very best! If we do not
try then we certainly have no hope at all. Romania is anxious to prove
that it is westernized, and deserves to join the EU. So perhaps this is
the best time to try!

All in all, a most energizing meeting! ROM-SIG members who were
present may have more to share, but all seemed to be on quite a high!

An additional thrill was the unveiling of the brand new All-Romanian
database on JewishGen. Please do take a look:
www.jewishgen.org/databases and click on Romania. This is just the
beginning! We have more data to be entered, and are hoping for still
more to come. Volunteers for data entry in Excel and validation (proof
reading) will be needed as we progress not to mention Project Coordinators
(without them nothing will get done!). Paula and I will be back and
ready to work after Labor Day for those of you who have already
indicated your willingness to help (Thank you!)

Rosanne Leeson
Paula Zieselman
Your Co-Coordinators!

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