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

Volume 7, Number 19 | November 19, 2006

Lars Menk Wins Obermayer Award
Lars Menk, author of A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames (Avotaynu, 2005), is one of the recipients of the Obermayer German-Jewish History Award for 2007. The award is given annually to German citizens who have made outstanding voluntary contributions toward preserving and recording the Jewish history, heritage, culture and/or remnants of local German communities. Menk will formally receive the award on January 25, 2007, at the plenary chamber of the Berlin Parliament.

A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames also received Honorable Mention in the category of Reference Book Award of the Association of Jewish Libraries. It identifies more than 13,000 German-Jewish surnames from the area that was pre-World War I Germany, providing their etymologies and where in the area the name first appeared and subsequent appearances. Additional information can be found at Information about the Obermayer Award can be found at

IAJGS Announces Conference Plans
The 27th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Salt Lake City from July 15-19, 2007, is open for business. The conference is now accepting registrations at its website Registration cost before May 1, 2007 is $230; thereafter, it is $275. The banquet cost will be $65 per person. Lecture proposals are being accepted through the website until December 15, 2006.

The 2008 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be at the Chicago Marriott Hotel from August 17-22, 2008. The conference is being hosted by IAJGS in cooperation with the JGS of Illinois and the Illiana JGS.

During the past two years, Steven Lasky of New York has developed a significant website for Jewish genealogy at Examining his site map shows the site now has:
   * shtetl pages for 40 towns, primarily in Poland (Vilnius, Lithuania, is a major exception)
   * immigrant lists by town--currently 27 towns--including major cities such as Bialystok, Czestochowa, Krakow, Ostrow Mazowiecka, Lodz, Suwalki, Warszawa and Vilnius. These were extracted from the Ellis Island Database. The Suwalki and Vilnius lists contain nearly 20,000 names and the Warszawa list contains more than 46,000.
   * New York-area cemetery plot information from more than 175 towns including lists of surnames to be found in the plots.
   * Hundreds of family photographs searchable by town or surname

There is an Education and Research Center that contains very detailed maps of Eastern Europe between the World Wars. There are numerous educational articles about various record types of interest to genealogists such as vital records, city directories, draft and military records, immigration, photographs and oral history. Special sections on cemeteries, Holocaust and the Yiddish world provide educational material and data.

The best place to start browsing the site is on its Site Map located at

Special CD Offer of Jewish History Books  
Some of the most important books on Jewish history and scholarship are now available as eBooks on CD-ROM. Avotaynu has made arrangements with Varda Books to offer their Judaic Scholar Digital Reference Library for just $149 (regularly $695) to the readers of Nu? What's New?. The collection includes 101 fully searchable, copyable and printable PDF eBooks, many of them out of print.

For example, it includes the three-volume series History of the Jews in Russia and Poland by Simon Dubnow. (Avotaynu republished this work as a single volume selling for $69.50.) Another landmark work included in the collection is the six-volume A History of the Jews by Heinrich Graetz. There seems to be many books about Sephardic history, such as A History of the Marranos by Cecil Roth. Finally, for those purchasing the CD now, the publisher will include a second CD containing the famous 12-volume 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, which they usually sell for $89.00. They've added a 13th combined index volume that makes it simple to find articles across all volumes. You can view the list of books in PDF format at

The offer is good through December 6 only. The price includes shipping. While you wait for the CD, you can download any of the included books directly from their site, and you can copy these books on up to three personal computers.

The $149 cost is equivalent to buying about three of the books in print or buying about five on CD if purchased separately. The publisher of the CD claims that in printed form, the total cost of all books would be $2,568.

To order the CD or get additional information, go to

News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic area of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at A log in is required. You can link the SIG home pages from

HungarianSIG There is a searchable digital version of Peter Ujvari's 1929 Magyar Zsido Lexikon online at Magyar Elektronikus Konyvtar (Hungarian Electronic Library) at The website and the document are both in Hungarian.

Litvak (Lithuania) SIG A large set (58) of Russian business directories is online and searchable. The website is located at

Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (for Galicia). Microfilmed Jewish community metrical records for the towns of Brody, Brzezany, and Lwow (Lemberg) held in the Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in L'viv, have recently been added to the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library Catalog. Search the Family History Library catalog at using the town name of interest.

JRI-Poland JRI-Poland has indexed a third batch of Nowy Sacz vital records. Marriage records for the years 1883, 1885, and 1888-1902 has just been completed. As of today, the indexed records are as follows: Births: 1854, 1878-1880, 1890-1892, 1994-1905; Marriages: 1882, 1883, 1885, 1888-1902, 1903-1905

Polish (Posted to the German SIG). There is a website (all in Polish) that lists Jewish cemeteries in Poland located at Information included is location/town, date range, area of the cemetery (?), number of graves, types of graves (headstones, monument, fences etc), and condition of the cemetery. The same website has a link to a list of synagogues in Poland.

Rav (Rabbinic) SIG Several volumes of the Year Book of the Central Conference of American Rabbis from the late 19th and early 20th centuries can be viewed online through To find them, do a "full view books" search for "Central Conference of American Rabbis".

ROM(ania) SIG The Bessarabia database mentioned in the October 31 edition of Nu? What's New? is a project of this SIG. It now contains an index to more than 53,800 births, 14,200 marriages/divorces and 26,300 deaths from Kishinev and Kaushany, Moldova. It is part of the JewishGen Romanian Database at

Article About International Tracing Service
Making the rounds of newspapers throughout the world is an excellent article written by the Associated Press about the collection of the International Tracing Service. It can be found at It does not provide much new information but gives an good overview of what their collection contains and a history of the controversy that has led to the planned public access to their records.

Meanwhile, discussions on the diplomatic and technical front still continue. Public access must still be ratified by all 11 countries that make up the ITS committee, and the technical aspect of how the public will be able to access these records must be solved. Optimistically, true public access to these records is still at least one year away.

Nick Vine Hall Dies
One of the foremost Australian genealogists, Nick Vine Hall, died in Melbourne on October 31, 2006, at age 62. He was the author of Tracing Your Family History in Australia, considered to be the definitive text on the subject.

Nick began his full-time role as genealogist at the age of 27 years when he became Director of the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney. For 27 years he was "Resident Genealogist" on Australian Broadcast Corporation radio stations, reaching an estimated one million listeners. Nick published many works on genealogy, family history and maritime history. As chairman of the Census Working Party, he utilized his marketing and lobbying skills to assure public access to future Australian census data.

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU will go into the mail shortly. If there is any way to chronicle the maturing of contemporary Jewish genealogy, it is by analyzing the articles that have appeared in AVOTAYNU. Twenty years ago, the Fall 1986 issue of the publication was only 36 pages and included four articles; one on HIAS, two on Galicia and a final one on researching in London. Jewish genealogy was in its early stages--less than 10 years old--and there wasn't that much information available.

Ten years ago, the Fall 1996 issue of AVOTAYNU focused on how to get records of our ancestors and the new phenomenon called the Internet. The first few articles (there were 19 articles in the issue) were titled: Internet for Greenhorns, Sources for Jewish Genealogical Research in Romania, On-Site Research in Germany, On-Site Jewish Genealogical Research in the Czech and Slovak Republics, Archives in Bohemia and Moravia, Slovakian State Archives, Genealogical Research in Lithuania—Summer 1996.

The latest issue, Fall 2006, demonstrates that the "how to" aspect of Jewish genealogy is now amply covered by such sources as the book Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy, back issues of AVOTAYNU available on CD-ROM, and the numerous Internet sites of the Special Interest Groups. The titles of some of the articles in the latest issue include:
   * Clues to Determining Whether and How a Female Branch Without a Family Name is Related
   * Finding the Location of Someone Whose Exact Address Is Not Shown in the 1860 U.S. Census
   * Searching for the Roots of Ashkenazic Jews Who Lived Outside the Pale of Settlement
   * Sephardic Surnames: Evolution Through the Millennia and Their Role in Genealogy
   * Hidden Treasures in the Libraries of Budapest, Hungary
   * A Proposed Standard for Classification of Relatives
   * MaHaRaL's Descent from King David: Additional Comments
   * Rescuing Names from Oblivion: The Galician Medical Personnel Files at Yad Vashem
   * The Half- and Quarter-German Jews of the Nazi Era

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

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