The Benefits and Obligations of Membership

Why Join a Society, can't I just research from my own computer?

To some degree, it is true that the internet does allow you to learn a lot while in the comfort of your own home. Just as it is true that you can learn by going to the library and reading books. The value in the fellowship of a Society is knowing what to read and where to find it.

The biggest challenge of the internet is knowing what not to read. There are so many answers on the internet that often you can not find what you are looking for. You might join a mailing lists or blog to get more clarity on your research issues. But those methods are typically short lived.

Joining a Society can be more fulfilling. Society members participate in an ongoing community of fellowship and build professional relationships with mentors and peers in a collaborative and supportive environment.

The Internet offers access to data but not true fellowship. Nothing replaces meeting and discussing issues with like-minded people. As a Society, even seasoned researchers will benefit from membership. You can always learn something from another perspective.

The Benefits

There are several ways that joining the Society can benefit you:

  • Learn: attend monthly meetings (once the full board is formed), ask questions, discuss brick walls and review the library holdings. Gain experience for other aspects of your life by developing leadership skills. Accept an opportunity to participate in the leadership of the Society by serving on committees and board member positions. Learning is enriched in a Society
  • Share: new resources, your knowledge of technology, Biblical history, success stories and other areas where you have expertise. Not everyone can appreciate the challenging road travelled to such success stories as a fellow Society member. Sharing is enriched in a Society.
  • Contribute: take on community projects to make available your local Jewish resources to researches from afar. Contributing to other Jewish genealogy researchers is enriched in a Society.

The Obligations

The goal of the Society is in part, to enable everyone to give back to the overall Jewish genealogical community. It is part of the by-laws, membership renewal and is at the core of being Jewish. Each year upon renewal of your membership you must demonstrate in some way how you gave back to the community in a non-monetary fashion. It can be a small act but you have to be able to document it. Some examples of enriching or assisting the Jewish genealogical community include:

  • publishing (family) history in print or online
  • submission of Pages of Testimony for those that perished in the Holocaust to Yad Vashem
  • responding to a Viewmate inquiry on JewishGen
  • posting online images of interest such as tombstone photos
  • but monetary donations, while of course needed by other entities, do not count in the environment the Society strives to create