I had been planning to attend; unfortunately, logistics may prevent this, although I'm still trying.
Paula Stuart-Warren writes in the FGS Conference blog about one event for FGS attendees, a Walking Tour of Society Hill with Harry D. Boonin, founding president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Philadelphia.
The tour will run from 3.30-5.30pm, Tuesday, September 2. For more details, see Paula's blog post above.
The tour will be of the old Jewish Quarter, today called “Society Hill,” the same area which was earlier home to the Powel House, the Spruce Street Baptist Church, today the Society Hill synagogue, the Third Baptist Church on S. 2nd Street, which in 1905 became the Neziner synagogue, and in 1983, became a condominium, the First Colored Wesley Methodist Church, today B’nai Abraham on Lombard Street (although the synagogue is in a building built in 1910) and many other buildings important to generations earlier than the East European Jewish arrivals in the1880s. We will see Mother Bethel Chuch, built in 1889 and located on the oldest piece of ground owned by blacks in the United States (Mother Bethel is a National Historic Site).
The Jewish quarter was a fairly well defined area, from Spruce Street in the north to Christian Street in the south, from 2nd Street on the east to 6th Street in the west. It contains an old bath house (today a condo) and the old Talmud Torah and Hebrew Literature Society buildings. We will also see an old immigrant bank where Jewish immigrants would order steamship tickets to bring their families here from eastern Europe.
Harry has written two books about the area:
-The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia (1999, 208pgs, 75+ B/W photographs) describes the area.
-The Life and Times of Congregation Kesher Israel (2008, 196pgs, 80+ photographs), located at 412 Lombard Street, covered the building's history, a Universalist church (1796-1889), the history of the synagogues there (1889-the present) and the area's history including the old pushcart market along S. 4th Street and more.
And for those planning ahead: Mark your calendars for the 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which will be held in Philadelphia on August 2-7, 2009.
Other sessions with a Jewish focus include:
-Gary Mokotoff's What's Different About Jewish Genealogy, which covers aspects of Jewish-American genealogical research that make it different from American genealogy. He's also presenting The Changing Face of Central & Eastern Europe which addresses town name and boundary changes that have created challenges to locating towns of ancestry.
-Debra Braverman's The Development of Eastern European Jewish Last Names
-Judith Shulamith Langer-Surnamer's How To Read A Hebrew Tombstone Anywhere In The World
I am hoping Jewish genealogical society leaders will be attending this event as there is a particularly strong multi-session program on society management, an important topic for all societies. I recommend a look at the topics addressed for more information and ideas:
Educating the Public Through Society Classes, Basics of Designing and Publishing Your Society’s Newsletter, Society Publications: Why, What, and How?, Preserving Genealogical Society Records, Book Review Columns for Society Newsletters, What Your Board Needs to Know, Staying on Track: Managing Your Society’s Projects, “Program, Program, Git yer Program!”, Educating the Members of Your Society, Collection Development: What’s your plan?, Projects: Planning~Participants~Production~ Publication, Creating the Operating Handbook Your Genealogical Society Needs, etc.
Overall, each time slot features some 10 programs, and four or five luncheons each day. The subjects are diverse and interesting. Do take the time to look over the program here