It’s incredible for me to fathom that this is my last report to you as President of IGRA. Thank you for your support and participation and for giving me the opportunity to help give direction to this organization.

As we dreamed, brainstormed and deliberated, thirteen years ago, what kind of genealogy organization would appear on the scene in Israel, we developed the cornerstones of IGRA and have stayed loyal to our vision. Some of our original group are no longer with us but their direction has remained essential to what IGRA has become – Mathilde, Martha, Hank and Ingrid are all remembered for their active participation, their ability to envision the future and the importance of our mission. There are many others who gave of themselves and because of them we are all richer – Harvey, Barbara (Siegel), Leesa, Barbara (Ellman), Chanan – and others.

In our Mission Statement we set out the following goals:

“Prepare databases from records and materials available in Israel; the Mediterranean Basin and relating to the places our relatives lived before coming to Israel to be accessible on our website.” Thanks to the direction and hard work of Rosie Feldman, Daniel Horowitz, Carol Hoffman, Yehezkel Bund and the dedicated group of volunteers, IGRA now has close to 3,200,000 records! This is the largest collection of digitized records connected with Israel and we continue to add material regularly.

“Develop a website with a sophisticated bilingual search engine…” The IGRA website has been rebuilt by Banai Feldstein and is still under development. The website hosts articles, our recorded webinars, many important resources and, of course, the databases. The website has Hebrew articles and webinars in addition to the databases. In English the quantity of available material is larger – together allowing us to reach a truly worldwide audience.

“Provide material on the website to assist people with their research such as articles, recorded lectures, Resource Guides and other relevant material.” Our Resource Guides are open to all providing information, research suggestions and links for additional resources. Many thanks to our Articles Committee, headed by Ellen Stepak and Carol Hoffman, for all their work. The newer articles and recorded lectures/webinars are only available to paid members. There are older articles, recorded lectures and webinars that are open for all a year after they first appear. All of the “Show & Tell” collection are open to everyone.

“Develop and broadcast webinars at a variety of levels to aid people in their research –and to make recordings of the webinars available for viewing on our website.” This year we had fewer webinars available. We are currently in the middle of our series relating to “Genealogy & Technology” and thank Rose Lerer Cohen for organizing the series. Volunteers are needed in all phases of these webinars – please let us know your availability to help organize or run our webinars.

“Provide opportunities for genealogical discovery and learning through mentoring, hands-on visits to archives, in-person and Zoom meetings and seminars.” We have resumed lectures in Hebrew in Givatayim on a monthly basis. Billie Stein and Hinda Solomon have done a remarkable job in bringing interesting lectures and those attending enjoy the opportunity to meet others interested in the same topics and exchange information. We had a fantastic visit to the new National Library of Israel that attracted members from all over Israel.

“Foster cooperation with other organizations and archives with a connection to genealogy.” We have made huge strides this year and have added a number of new archives that we are working with. On our database page please be certain to scroll down the results page to see additional entries with the name you are researching in the Genealogy Indexer. There are three new areas I would like to mention in greater detail – #1: Those searching on JewishGen will soon, in addition to all the other records, see results for that person within the IGRA collection, being sent to the IGRA website for additional information. Such a measure of cooperation was announced years ago at an IAJGS conference but is only now being completed. #2: A significant portion of the IGRA collection will be available to those searching a specific individual on the MyHeritage website. This will also drive the individuals to the IGRA website for additional information. #3: When searching for a person in the IGRA collection mentions of that person connected with the Keren Kayemet Books of Honor will now show as well with a link directly to the specific pages on the Keren Kayemet website. (We have been pushing to make this happen since the 2015 IAJGS Conference in Jerusalem!)

Membership in IGRA continues to be strong and we continue to have the largest membership within the IAJGS. At the moment we have members from: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Lithuania, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine (23 in all). More than half of the members today were also members a year ago and 477 have been members for multiple years.

On October 8, 2024 IGRA was to co-sponsor the screening of the film Fioretta at the ANU Museum in Tel Aviv. Due to the horrific events of October 7 the live event was cancelled. At the last moment IGRA was able to host the screening online for those who were interested in seeing it and being part of a community. Randy Schoenberg and Matthew Mishory were with us following the screening to answer questions. IGRA was also a co-sponsor of the screening of Fioretta, in cooperation with ANU, on March 31 at the ANU Museum in Tel Aviv.

The War has changed everything – for everyone. It is natural that people find themselves involved in different activities now than before. It is important to recognize that people are reluctant to be far from their residence or gather in large groups. With shelling on 2-3 fronts daily, soldiers being killed almost daily and the hostages still being held captive – we realize that our plan for a full day Genealogy Fair with sponsors, exhibits, lectures – is not able to happen in the near future. We are conceptualizing a virtual event that we can do sooner and this will be done in Ingrid’s memory.

My thanks and appreciation to our current Board – Elena Bazes (Secretary), Ornit Laska Meixler (Treasurer), Rosemary Eshel (Executive), Daniel Horowitz (Executive), Aviad ben Izhak, Rose Feldman, Eyal Hollander, Jean-Pierre Stroweis, and Philip Trauring and Va’adat Bikoret – Susan Edel, Shalom Bronstein and Rose Lerer Cohen . You have made your mark on IGRA’s activities. It has been my privilege to work with all of you. Rosemary Eshel deserves additional credit for her continued work helping those who turn to us with research requests. Of course, my gratitude to Michael Goldstein and Linda Geffon for helping with this AGM. A special thank you to three members who have chosen not to be a part of the Board in the coming year – Aviad, thank you for stepping in and filling a void for us; Philip, I don’t even know where to begin – building our website, being our tech person and for being President for four years among others; and Elena – I would have been lost these last four years without your incredible memory, ability to keep everything organized and running smoothly.

I continue on as immediate Past-President and wish the incoming officers and Board much success as they take the reins and continue to see IGRA push ahead and meet new goals.