The keynote "fireside" speaker was Kahlile Bliss Mehr
Speaking on "The House of Israel as a Unifying Principle"
Kahlile Bliss Mehr is a retired librarian and author. He has published over fifty articles or book reviews. He authored: Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah 1894-1994, Mormon Missionaries Enter Eastern Europe, and “Tracing Your Jewish Ancestors”.
The above are best found by going to https://feefhs.org/search/google?keys=Tracing+your+jewish+ancestors.
For BYU Studies, he wrote an extensive history of the development of Israel studies leading to BYU's Jerusalem Center, largely involving Lynn Hilton who some of us remember. This was edited by Bnai Shalom here: http://www.mormonsandjews.org/history/IsraelStudiesJerusalemCenterLynnHilton.pdf.
Kahlile is a past member of the board of directors and coordinator of the IAJGS management sessions at annual conferences. Kahlile brought experience from serving on the board of The Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) to the IAJGS. Before his recent retirement, Kahlile was Manager of the Slavic Collection Management and Cataloging at FamilySearch. Kahlile fostered the IAJGS’s relationship with FamilySearch which has been an ongoing sponsor of our annual conference and the sponsor of IAJGS LIVE! (conference video streamed and on-demand).
For twenty years he visited archives throughout Eastern Europe. He has often lectured at IAJGS conferences on genealogical sources and records availability and at the meetings of various Jewish Genealogical Societies.
Kahlile worked in the Family History Department for 32 years and in the Church History Department for 3 years. For ten years he investigated genealogical records in East European archives to ensure the most valuable records were acquired for the Family History Library Collection. Concurrently, he investigated the early history of the Church in that part of the world.>At Brigham Young University, Kahlile was the President of the Orson Hyde Club whose members promoted the study of Jewish Mormon history of Israel and performed Israeli folkdances.
Most recently, Kahlile served a Church History mission in the southern half of the East Europe Area, teaching members to record their history and acquiring sources for an archive established by the Church in Kyiv, Ukraine.
The evening started with a many of our members - and new visitors - arriving, greeting and hugging friends and introducing new friends. A great buffet of Jewish dishes and other pot-luck food was enjoyed.
While we ate, Julie Gardner played beautiful Eastern European-themed viola music to go along with the Eastern European theme of our speaker.
The fireside talk was given in the cultural hall, due to the first-ever video recording of the evening which cannot be done in the chapel.
Please go to our YouTube/BnaiShalomLatterDaySaintsAndJews channel and look for Kahlile Mehr Sept 2016. PLEASE subscribe to that YouTube channel.
Brother Mehr told of early Jewish proselyting programs (long since terminated), and interesting facts about Jewish genealogy connection to Family History / FamilySearch dept. He also told of historical archives created in Kiev and other locations. This will be described well in the video.
Our wireless microphone system helped audience members hear the questions and comments from other members.
Daniel Smith showed many interested members his creation of ancient Priesthood attire.
While we enjoyed dessert, our devoted dance instructor - the enthusiastic Deborah Mann - set up to teach us Hebrew dance. Unfortunately some chair/table takedown activity got in the way. We will seek to have this work more smoothly in the future.