Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's the Final Countdown (to 2017): A Year in Review

It's hard to believe that December 31st has finally arrived and it's the last day of 2017. I don't know about all of you but I feel that 2017 was a rollercoaster of a year.

Here's some highlights for what happened in 2017 for the Shamrock Genealogist:

  1. DNA tested paternal uncle and father at AncestryDNA. Bonus was my maternal grandmother tested on her own at MyHeritage.
  2. Attended two genealogy conferences, RootsTech and NERGC, which were both firsts for me. 
  3. Had proposals chosen to give lectures at Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS) Conference and Michigan in Perspective Local History Conference in 2018. 
  4. Was accepted to be a social media ambassador for RootsTech 2018 (which resulted in free registration for RootsTech!)
  5. Assisted with social media publicity for OGS 2018 
  6. Bought the domain rights for this web site
  7. Visited the New England Genealogical History Society library (twice!) and the California State Archives
  8. Started a Facebook page for my blog
  9. Started meeting with other companies to do affiliate work
  10. Interviewed on Extreme Genes podcast
  11. Assisted my non-profit team NextGen Genealogy Network with launching new campaign "NextGenInAction"and raising $500 on Giving Tuesday to put towards new initatives
  12. Met lots of genealogy friends - can't wait to meet more and my online friends in person

Whew! That's a lot but I expect there will be more to come for 2018. Here are some of my genealogy goals for the new year:

1. Continue to blog frequently - target once a week
2. Blog more about ancestors and research techniques
3. Explore new archives 
4. Continue to submit proposals for upcoming conferences (including virtual) and webinars
5. Keep up with my research log to make my annual trip to the Family History Library and other repositories more successful
6. Keep up with email correspondence from DNA cousins (I know I'm one of the bad ones that doesn't respond as timely as I should)
7. Fulfill more requests on Find A Grave and Billion Graves 
8. Look at different avenues to teach genealogy tips (perhaps a YouTube channel)
9. Continue education through conferences, webinars, etc. 
10. Keep moving towards my goal of becoming a genealogist full time

What are your genealogy goals for 2018? 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reclaiming Family Traditions

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. In short it's a celebration of how the oil needed to heat the menorah of the Temple lasted eight days, when it should only have lasted one day. Growing up, I was raised to celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas. My mom was raised Jewish and my dad was raised Catholic and holidays were blended.

My mom would make the potato latkes (pancakes). The menorah would be lit, with a new candle appearing each night until the final night when the entire menorah has candles. The menorah has candles added right to left but it's lit left to right. I was usually afraid of fire so my mom would take care of lighting the menorah. In some families it was the youngest child that would do the lighting. The menorah in my family was passed down, possibly from my great grandparents. I loved the menorah, it had such a bright bronze (almost gold) look. It played "Rock of Ages", like an old jewelry box tune.

Since I moved out of my parents' house, I didn't celebrate Chanuakah. There was no menorah in the house. I think I felt disconnected from my heritage. I was raised reform Jewish so I didn't consider myself overly religious. There were no prayers uttered over the menorah growing up. I think I partially felt afraid to say to people that I was Jewish.

I grew up in community that had a heavy Christian presence, which is sometimes hard to believe given it was Long Island, NY but it wasn't the most Jewish heavy town.  Most of my peers were Roman Catholic or other Christian sect. There was only a handful of us that were Jewish. I felt like an outsider even though I celebrated Christmas as well. I was told things like "You killed my savior" or people would give the Nazi salute or talk about how Hitler had good ideas. Really awful things to hear growing up, esp, since I've heard stories that I have some distant cousins that were murdered during the Holocaust (still to be proven).

This year I decided it was time to reclaim family traditions. There is now a menorah in my household and we lit candles tonight and ate potato latkes with our dinner. I even had a challah bread. You can see some pics below of myself lighting the candles. I'm reclaiming my Jewish heritage. I am Jewish - it's one part of my identity.

I think given these dark times in our country that celebrating a miracle gives us hope for the future. Happy Chanukah my friends - may the darkness be behind us soon. And to all that don't celebrate, happy holidays! May your time with family and friends be loving and bright.