Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 7, Number 8 | June 4, 2006

ITS Commission Approves Public Access to Their Records
The International Tracing Service's 11-member International Commission unanimously approved making the ITS records, located in Arolsen, Germany, open for historical research. The agreement will not go into affect until all 11 countries represented on the Commission approve the recommendation. What will follow approval is still unknown, but it is anticipated that some of the member countries, notably the United States (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum) and Israel (Yad Vashem) will acquire copies of these records and make them available to the public in an unrestricted manner.

The Commission plans to send a group of representatives to Arolsen in late June to assess the status of the records there. More than half the records have been digitized; many are in fragile condition.

The collection is of immense value to genealogists because it places an individual caught up in the Holocaust in a certain place at a given time. It is also of potential value to families of Holocaust victims because it may contain information about family members previously unknown to them. Typical was the case of Benjamin Meed, president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Meed's brother was deported in 1943 from Warsaw by the Germans in what became known as the Hotel Polski Incident. He was never heard from again. Some years ago, Meed was invited to see the facilities of ITS at Arolsen. There he found records of what happened to his brother from the Warsaw deportation until his eventual death.

Current access to the records is only by inquiry to ITS and a response takes months, if not years. Presenlty, requests often are turned down because there is inadequate information submitted about the individual. For more information regarding the records of the International Tracing Service, see

The Jewish Telegraph Agency version of the event can be found at

An Important Article in AVOTAYNU
I have come to realize that AVOTAYNU is the only chronicle of the history of contemporary Jewish genealogy. It is hard to believe that only 15 years ago, AVOTAYNU included an article that said you could access a new Internet service called JewishGen by making a long-distance telephone call to Houston, Texas.

The Spring 2006 issue of AVOTAYNU has an article that is destined to become historic. It is written by an avid genealogist, H. Daniel Wagner, a Professor of Materials Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. The article discusses what Wagner considers the next major step in the evolution of Jewish genealogy: "Genealogy As an Academic Discipline." Professor Wagner offers the most important contribution to Jewish genealogy since Dan Rottenberg (Finding Our Fathers) and Arthur Kurzweil (From Generation to Generation) wrote their seminal books nearly 30 years ago.

He explains that the field of genealogy currently is undergoing a rapid transformation such that "what used to be mainly a pastime has become a field of far-reaching information and knowledge from which society benefits significantly." He notes the rising number of peer-reviewed genealogical publications, especially in the exact sciences.

Wagner reviews current shifts and modern research tools while proposing a "rough outline of the rising field of modern genealogy, viewed as an academic discipline, with emphasis on possible subdivisions of the areas of study." He has coined two new terms destined to become part of everyday usage: macrogenealogy and microgenealogy.

Because of the importance of his paper, Avotaynu has posted it online at Readers are invited to submit letters to the editor of AVOTAYNU with their thoughts about the article. Submit them to You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Jewish Genealogy Group Forming in Spain
More than 500 years after the Jews were given proffered baptisms (submit to baptism or leave the country), a Jewish genealogy group is forming in Spain. The Jewish community of Barcelona invited American Dr. Jeffrey S. Malka to speak to the group last month about Sephardic genealogy and discuss with them the formation of a genealogy group.

Malka is the author of Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World; contributor of a number of chapters in Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy, including the chapter on Spain/Portugal; and founder of the award-winning website, "Resources for Sephardic Genealogy," located at

Sephardic Genealogy won the Outstanding Reference Work of the Association of Jewish Libraries in 2002. Information about the book can be found at Information about Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy can be found at

Exhibitors List for IAJGS Conference Now Available
A list of exhibitors at the 26th annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is now available at the conference site Avotaynu will have a major presence in the exhibit hall, offering more than 50 different books of value to Jewish genealogical research, maps, CDs and even a few video tapes. We are planning to have a number of author signings. Details will be announced at a later date.

Other vendors will be selling Judaica books, preservation materials, software and memorabilia. The exhibit hall will be located on the fifth floor of the Marriott hotel adjacent to the lecture rooms. Adds WWII "Old Man's" Draft Cards to Their Site has added World War II draft registration cards to its online collection. It is the Fourth Registration, often referred to as the "Old Man's Registration," which was conducted on 27 April 1942 and registered men who were born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897--men who were between 45 and 64 years old and who were not already in the military.

The database contains all the registrations that are currently available on microfilm to the public, which covers one-third of the total registrants (3,385,693 images) from the following fifteen states plus Puerto Rico: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia.

Information contained on these cards includes name, age, date and place of birth, residence, employer information, name and address of a person who would always know the registrant's whereabouts, physical description of registrant, race, height, weight, eye and hair colors, and complexion

The database is located at

Montreal City Directories Online
Montreal city directories for the period 1842-1999 have been placed online by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. The website is in French, but the early directories are in English. Later directories are in English and French. They can be found at

New Book: Roots and Remembrance
Roots and RemembrancesFor the past ten years, Bill Gladstone of Toronto has been writing book reviews for AVOTAYNU. Professionally he is a journalist for the Jewish news media. If he has a place in history, it will be that it was Gladstone, then president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada, who wrote in September 1994 the article for the Jewish press that the Mormon Church had posthumously baptized 128,000 German Jews murdered in the Holocaust. This article initiated the now 12-year dialogue between Jewish organizations and the Mormon Church about the posthumous baptism of Jews.

One of Gladstone's journalistic roles has been to write a column for the Canadian Jewish News about genealogy under the pseudonym Ze'ev Glicenstein (Ze'ev being his Hebrew name and Glicenstein being the Old Country family name). Now Gladstone has collected the best of his columns and has published them in a book titled Roots and Remembrance. It is published by the Ontario Genealogical Society.

The selected columns are divided into six chapters: Personal Stories, Research Topics, Resources, Books, Canadian Research and International Research. Each article is a gem, highlighting stories and events that have occurred in the life of Jewish genealogists. Many article give insight into the world of Jewish genealogy. Not only might readers pick up ideas on how to advance their own research, but they will find Gladstone's writing style easy to read and his selected topics enjoyable just for the reading itself.

The purchase price is $27.00. You can buy the book at the Avotaynu website You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Nu? What's New is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2006, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

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