I am flying to Amsterdam and then on to Warsaw. As we all are, on the way to something new, I am filled with both anxieties and also eager anticipation. The last time, years ago, that I traveled to Eastern Europe to research in archives, I traveled alone to meet people I had never met before in person. I was on my way to do research in archives with someone I had only met via email, who had no experience doing research and who knew nothing of Judaism. It was an exploration into the unknown. The experience(s) were wonderful, and more rewarding than I could imagine, but definitely not for the faint of heart.
On that trip, Miroslav, a former student of my cousin Ella, who had several qualities I was looking for: he spoke English, Russian and Ukrainian, he could be trusted, he had a driver’s license and he lived in Kiev. He was able to take two weeks off work,drive me around, and he was eager to learn. He made arrangements for us to get into archives in Zhitomir and Tarnopil, and quickly picked up on issues with Russian transcriptions of Yiddish names.
This trip is very different. I am starting in Warsaw (a city I have never visited) attending the IAJGS Conference meeting people I see ever day in our Salt Lake City ancestryProGenealogists office – experienced researchers who speak a variety of Eastern European languages, and who are all familiar with the challenges of Jewish and non-Jewish research.
What an adventure. I feel so close to all my clients and this research onsite where their ancestors lived is, I am sure, going to be a very emotional experience. Next stop Warsaw.