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Is the AJS committed to holding an in-person conference in December?

The AJS is committed to meeting in person in December. After over a year of curtailed travel, we look forward to being able to come together, share our work, and have meaningful conversations. This year’s in-person conference will be affected by the impact of COVID-19, and we are committed to holding a conference that will protect the health and safety of our membership.

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Can I present remotely or via recording?

No, all participation and presentations will be held live and in-person in Chicago.

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What kinds of conference sessions are available during AJS 2021?

This year, the AJS is offering five forms of sessions: Panels, RoundtablesSeminars, Lightning Sessions, and Performance/Scholarship sessions.

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Why does the AJS request that Panels be limited to 3 participants and a chair (or 3 participants, a chair, and a respondent)?

The AJS is committed to creating a conference whose sessions are a place of dialogue and discussion. Based on feedback from members and the Division Chairs, the Program Committee determined that panels with four presenters did not allow for sufficient time for a vibrant Q&A. Panels will include three 15-minute papers, which should allow for a robust conversation among panelists and audience members.

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How long will each session last? Last year we had to transition from 90 minutes to 60 minutes. Will this year’s sessions be 90 minutes or 60 minutes?

The AJS is planning for an in-person conference in Chicago 2021. The sessions will be 90 minutes long.

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Why are there no longer graduate student lightning sessions (GSLR)?

Over the last two years, much of the feedback concerning the GSLR has been negative, with individuals expressing concern that the GSLR format prevents graduate students from being fully integrated into the conference. While eliminating this option, we are committed to including graduate students as full participants in the conference.

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Is there a chance that the conference might be held virtually?

Our current plan is to meet in person, but if we need to host a virtual conference, we know how to do so. We are closely watching what learned societies whose conferences take place in the summer and early fall are doing.

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When would you decide to make the shift from an in-person to a virtual conference?

That is difficult to answer, in part because there is so much uncertainty. Without question, the health and safety of our membership is our priority and we will act accordingly.  We will continue to be in touch with our members as we move into the spring and summer.

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Might you consider delaying the submission deadline until the end of May?

No, the submission deadline will not be extended. If we keep our current deadline, we can be sensitive to the many different calendars that are involved in reviewing the submission process.

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What if someone from my session cannot commit to being in person because of the pandemic?

We know it is very difficult to plan for next year, given the uncertainties around Covid-19. That being said, we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to meet in December in Chicago. We will make a final announcement before participants need to accept the Program Committee's invitation to participate in one or two sessions at the conference.

Assuming that we can safely meet in person, we will continue our practice of presenters presenting their work in person unless there are extenuating last minute circumstances. If the Board decides to hold the conference virtually, participants will present from wherever they are located.

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Why won’t the AJS have a hybrid conference?

Unfortunately, the costs and logistics for a hybrid conference are prohibitive, and the disparate needs of in person and remote participants are different, calling for distinct models of conference programming.

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What are your next steps?

In addition to encouraging our members to submit proposals and holding meetings with the Board, Program Committee, and Division Chairs, our staff will continue to negotiate with the conference hotel in Chicago. The Association’s contractual agreement with the hotel in Chicago includes a number of dates by which the AJS would have to pay a different sized penalty if it were to cancel. The AJS also is contractually obligated to fill a set number of rooms during the conference or be responsible for an attrition rate. The staff is currently negotiating with the hotel to see if it can negotiate a lower attrition rate.

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Who should I speak with if I have feedback on any of these changes or other aspects of the program?

The VP for Program, and the Program Committee, are always interested in your feedback. Please contact judd.18@osu.edu with any questions. If you have any questions about the submission process or about any technical concerns, please contact Michelle at mkatz@associationforjewishstudies.org.

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What precautions might I be expected to take in planning to attend the conference?

Our top priority is the health and safety of all attendees. As always, the AJS will adhere to all federal and local guidelines regarding our conference in December. Precautions at that time may include (but are not limited to): wearing a mask; social distancing; additional cleaning periods between room usage; temperature checks; proof of vaccination; proof of negative COVID test, etc. The AJS will communicate all procedures and information regarding precautions prior to the conference, and reserves the right to remove an attendee from the conference, in the event of an attendee not following announced guidelines.

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What if I have additional questions?

Please email Michelle Katz, Director of Membership and Conference Content, at mkatz@associationforjewishstudies.org

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