Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 4 of the IAJGS Conference

Maina Chawla Singh
Today's high note was research.  The conference had arranged complimentary subscriptions to several ProQuest historical newspaper databases on the computers in the resource room.  I spent some productive time searching diligently and found several articles about people in Indianapolis and Connecticut, along with two significant articles about one person in Chicago.  Nothing on my English cousins, though, because for some reason the Jewish Chronicle login wasn't working.  I'm hoping that gets fixed for tomorrow.

I had a disappointing session in the morning.  In the first 20 minutes, the speaker talked 5 minutes on subject and 15 minutes on present-day politics.  In addition, the speaker was reading directly from a printed copy of the talk.  I got frustrated and left early, but since I went to the resource room and found some of those articles, at least it wasn't too much time wasted.

In the afternoon I went to a very educational session on the Familianten laws of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia.  These laws regulated how many Jewish men were permitted to be married and therefore in theory controlled how many Jewish families there were (theory being the operative word there).  An interesting side effect of the laws was that extremely detailed records were kept to track each man who was permitted to have a family, including when the right was transferred to another person.  These records are obviously a boon to family history researchers.

I heard a lecture on an unusual topic in the evening.  Maina Chawla Singh, author of Being Indian, Being Israeli: Migration, Ethnicity and Gender in the Jewish Homeland, spoke about her ethnographic research on Indian Jews who have immigrated to Israel.  The Indian Jewish communities are some of the oldest in the world, but now most Indian Jews live in Israel.  Nissim Reuben, who works for the American Jewish Committee and who is Bene Israel, talked about his experiences as an Indian Jew.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to hear both of them speak.

Now off to get some sleep, or I won't get up on time for tomorrow's morning sessions ....

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