Wednesday, August 20, 2008

IAJGS Jewish Genealogy Conference – Trader Joe's, Bad Jokes and "It Stinks!"

For some reason the exhibition hall only opened at 12:00PM today, so it gave me the opportunity to do a little sightseeing. Where would a tourist from New York go for a few hours in Chicago? Well of course I had to make my way over to Trader Joe's. Did you know that they also have Trader Joe's in Chicago? What a concept!
After I picked up some healthy, (yes, Kosher) bagels, I headed back to the hotel to setup the exhibit. Of course, no sooner had the first crowds of people begun to make their way over to JewishGen Headquarters (aka The JewishGen Booth), did my trusty computer go dark. No matter how much I tried, I simply could not get the computer to turn on. So I hopped in a cab to the nearest electronic store, and asked if the person behind the counter could help me. I explained that I was at conference, my computer was not working and that this was not a great situation.
The person looked at my computer, took out the battery, put back the battery and just like that it was fixed! Don’t ask me how, but it was. In keeping with Chicago hospitality, the person refused to accept payment. I thanked him profusely and remarked that perhaps this was providence because I work on "Battery Place" and all that I needed was to have the "Battery placed" in the computer. He did not laugh.
Back at the JewishGen booth, I quickly fired up the computer and met many new and interesting people throughout the day. One person made a specific point of thanking me for JewishGen, explaining that it had literally been a “savior” for him in his research. I thanked him and explained that true thanks should go to Warren Blatt, the new managing Director and all of the staff and volunteers who have, over the years, made JewishGen into what it has become.
I also had the opportunity to meet with many of the volunteer coordinators, and it was truly an honor to meet the people who have devoted so much of their time over the past decades to a concept in which they truly believe.
To end off on a humorous note: One of the JewishGen key and valuable volunteers was at the booth and I inquired if he liked the new JewishGen brochure. The person responded that “it stinks.” A little surprised I said “excuse me?” The person said: “Next time print the brochures a few weeks before the conference, so it will not stink like a newly published brochure.” I smiled and put the brochure back in the container.
There is more news, and that will come soon.
In the meantime, please enjoy these pictures of Trader Joe’s, the Chicago Tribune building, and more scene’s from the conference.


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