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

Volume 7, Number 20 | December 3, 2006

Stephen Morse Creates the Ultimate Ellis Island Search Engine
The functionality of the Stephen P. Morse site in searching for Jewish immigrants has now been extended to the entire Ellis Island Database (EIDB). It truly has become the Ultimate Ellis Island Search Engine. Called the "Gold Form" at, it undoubtedly will replace all other variants at the site.

To search the Ellis Island Database using the Gold Form, there is no required field; not even name. For example, if you cannot find an immigrant but you know that he came from Parma, Italy, search using the town name "Parma." There are just under 2,000 results. You can reduce the number of false positives by adding gender, marital status, and estimate age and year of arrival.

The Gold Form allows you to search on any of the following fields: given name, family name, first name of companion, town name, ship name, port name, range of years of arrival, range of age at time of arrival, range of year of birth, marital status, gender, ethnicity. You can select which items in the database to display and can sort the results by name, town, date of arrival, age, ship port or passenger ID.

In the case of first name, surname, first name of companion and town name, you can specify the information provided Starts With (or Is), Sounds Like or Contains. The Sounds-Like option uses the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System rather than the conventional soundex system. D-M soundex not only uses a superior algorithm but extends the coding to the first six consonants rather than four as done by the conventional soundex system. This eliminates many false positives.

You may experience slow response time in the next few weeks because the site is new and occasionally overloaded. I had a number of cases where the response time was so long that the system timed out. Morse and his associate, Gary Sandler, are addressing these problems.

Case Study
My personal experience is that when you cannot find an immigrant by name in the EIDB because it is misspelled, providing all other information other than name yields sufficiently few results that the individual easily can be found. I was unable to find my grandfather, Morris Mokotoff, in the database when searching by name. Using the Gold Form, I specified what I knew about him. I knew his given name at time of arrival was some variant of Moshe (Moszek, Moshe, etc.), so I specified the given name Started With "Mo." I left the Family Name blank. He was born in 1888 and came to the U.S. between 1908 and 1913, so I specified his Birth Year was between 1885 and 1895 (the ship's manifest asks age, which is often inaccurate) and his Arrival Year was between 1908 and 1913. I knew he came from Warsaw which is represented in the database in many ways (Warsaw, Warschau, etc.), so I specified the Town Name Starts With "Wa." Finally I stated he was Jewish, Male and Single.

The results show how remarkable the Gold Form is. Out of 24 million immigrants in the Ellis Island Database, only 140 met the criteria above. One "Moische ...okaton," was my grandfather.

Avotaynu to Poll Nu? What's New? Subscribers
Avotaynu will be conducting an online survey of people interested in Jewish genealogy. We have chosen the subscribers to Nu? What's New? as the base of people to poll. This Tuesday, December 5, you will receive e-mail with a link to the Internet site that has the questions of the survey.

Whether you are Jewish or non-Jewish, just getting started in genealogy or a veteran, we want to develop a profile of people who subscribe to Nu? What's New? There are only 26 questions, many requiring a simple yes/no answer. When you get the message to participate, please click the link and contribute to the survey. It should take only a few minutes.

We hope to publish the results in the future issue of Nu? What's New? It will be interesting to all of us to take note of the profile of who are Nu? What's New? readers. Are we "little old ladies in tennis sneakers"? Mostly retired persons? How much time do we devote to genealogy? How much does it cost us for genealogy? Are we mostly old timers or newbies? Extends Free Use of Passenger Lists has extended free access to its online immigration records collection through the end of the year. The original deadline was November 30. The reason the company states for the extension is the unanticipated interest in the collection. They claim there was a 25 percent increase in page views at their site during the free offer period.

The immigrations records include all Ellis Island records (1892–1957). Other ports include:
  * Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820–1948
  * Boston Passenger Lists, 1820–1943
  * California Passenger and Crew Lists, 1893–1957
  * Galveston Passenger Lists, 1896–1948
  * New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820–1945
  * New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1957
  * Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883–1945 states that their full collection of more than 100 million immigrant names includes all readily available U.S. passenger list records from 1820 to 1960. The complete list of passenger arrival records can be found at

Last Chance: Special CD Offer of Jewish History Books
This Wednesday, December 6, is the last day to take advantage of the offer to receive the CD version of some of the most important books on Jewish history and scholarship. 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 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.

The collection includes such landmark works as the three-volume series History of the Jews in Russia and Poland by Simon Dubnow; the six-volume A History of the Jews by Heinrich Graetz; and A History of the Marranos by Cecil Roth. You can view the complete list of books in PDF format at %20Judaic%20Scholar%20Digital%20Reference%20Library.pdf?ebookshuk

There is no shipping charge. While you wait for the CD to arrive, you can download any of the included books directly from their site and copy them on up to three of your own personal computers.

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

Genealogy Videos on the Internet
Avotaynu co-owner, Sallyann Amdur Sack, and Arline Sachs have been taping a genealogy television show, "Tracing Your Family Roots," for nine years on a Washington-area public access station. Sidney Sachs, the shows producer and husband of Arline, has started to place these half-hour programs on the Internet at Those programs that are available on the Internet have the notation "View Now" at the site. Other shows in the backlog will be added weekly. All new shows will be on the web shortly after they are aired.

Those shows currently available include:
  * All about Yizkor books
  * Holding a family reunion
  * Methodology for beginning genealogical research
  * Web sites for German genealogy
  * Italian genealogy
  * Downsizing and preserving your documents

A few shows are also available in a audio-only version.

JewishGen Holocaust Database Now Exceeds One Million Records
There are now 1,141,316 records in the JewishGen Holocaust Database located at They are from more than 100 sources, all listed at the Internet site. Typical are Dachau Concentration Camp records that now contain 157,960 records.

List of Jewish Refugees in Uzbekistan
During WWII more than one million Jews from the former Soviet Union, including the recently annexed territories of Eastern Poland, Baltic countries, Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, were evacuated by the Soviet authorities or managed to escape on their own into the Soviet interior before German troops marched into their towns and villages.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has placed on the Internet an index and images of cards of more than 152,000 Jews who were in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1942. They can be found at Note that you need only search using the first few letters of a surname. Clicking on the Image Number brings up the actual card.

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

German SIG. More than 15,000 gravestones at the Rat-Beil-Strasse cemetery in Frankfurt, Germany, have been indexed and photographed. They can be found at

LitvakSIG. The LitvakSIG has entered into an agreement with the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem that will permit LitvakSIG to acquire copies of the archives' Lithuanian records, to translate these records, and to post the data in the LitvakSIG "All-Lithuania Database." The lists are numerous and span a time frame between 1816 and 1903, covering such categories as lists of students and teachers in Jewish institutions in various towns; lists of students in rabbinical colleges in Kovno and Vilna; lists of graduates from Vilna Jewish Pedagogical Institute; lists of candidates for the position of pharmacist helper in Kovno Gymnasium; lists of school directors and teachers in the various guberniyas; lists of merchants from Kovno Guberniya and Vilna town.

Rabbinic SIG. The Horowitz Families Association will hold its 22nd Horowitz Family Convention and Seminar, titled "Women from the House of Horowitz," on December 20, 2006, at 18:00 at Beit Ha-Tanach (Bible Museum), 16 Rothschild Blvd. in Tel Aviv. The full program can be found at our website at

Gesher 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. This means that for a small mailing fee researchers can order copies of these films to be sent to their local Family History Centers. If you are planning to look at the films at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, write ahead because the films are not part of the collection kept at the Library but must be retrieved from their master film collection in the Library's vault.

These birth, marriage and death records cover (with some gaps) the following years: The Jewish Congregation, Brody, 1815–1871; Jewish Congregation Brzezany, 1820–1864; Jewish Congregation Lwow, 1801–1889. The catalog entries can be accessed at the following links:

Brody: &columns=*%2C0%2C0&titleno=1341604&disp=Metrical+books++

Lwow: &columns=*%2C0%2C0&titleno=1343978&disp=Metrical+books++

Brzezany: &columns=*%2C0%2C0&titleno=1341137&disp=Metrical+books++

New Book: La liste de Saint Cyprien
On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium. That very same day and in the days that followed, Belgian authorities rounded up more than 8,000 refugees living in the country, and deported them to internment camps in southern France. They were almost all German/Austrian Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany and Austria since Hitler's anti-Semitic decrees.

Now a book has been written that documents the circumstances surrounding the round up, and particularly focuses on those 4,419 identified Jews sent to the St. Cyprien camp near Perpignan. The book includes a list of the deportees showing name, birth date and place, last address in Belgium and other camps to which they were sent.

The book, La liste de Saint-Cyprien, is written by Marcel Bervoets. His father, Hans Tragholz—whom he never knew—was one of these deportees. Also deported on May 10, 1940, was Moses Händel, father of Evelyne Haendel—whom she never knew—whose story was related in the Winter 2005, issue of AVOTAYNU. The book, which is written in French, presents a harsh view of the acts of the Belgian authorities and on living conditions in the camp through authentic documents discovered by the author in his years of research. It also includes testimonies of individuals through handwritten notes, letters, petitions and diaries.

Additional information about the book can be found at It is difficult to buy the book. The publisher, Alice-Editions does not sell to individuals. I found it on the French version of, Search for the book by author.

Generali Still Accepting Claims
As the result of a settlement in U.S. Federal court, Generali insurance company has reopened claims processing for Holocaust-era insurance policies. The new deadline in March 31, 2007. Eligible are individuals or persons whose relatives purchased Generali insurance between 1920 and 1945 and who owned a policy or were a beneficiary of a policy that was in force immediately prior to their persecution by the Nazis or their allies.

Prior to World War II, Generali wrote many life insurance policies for Jews who were subsequently murdered in the Holocaust. After the war, for many decades, they refused to honor claims unless there was strict proof of death and proof of kinship. This was relaxed within the past ten years due to pressure of the threat of class action suits.

Additional information as well as the forms to file a claim can be found at

Registry of Holocaust Survivors Extended to Include Non-Americans
The Registry of Holocaust Survivors at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., is expanding its search for information on survivors residing outside North America. It was once called the National Registry of Holocaust Survivors, implying it contained only survivors living in the United States. If you are a survivor or know of one living anywhere in the world, register them with the museum's database.

The Registry maintains the largest listing of Holocaust survivors in the world, currently containing over 195,000 records relating to survivors and their families. Since 1985 the Registry has provided valuable information to thousands of survivors worldwide, and in some cases has succeeded in reuniting friends and families from the Holocaust era. To protect the privacy of survivors and their families, the Registry is not searchable online. Visit its website at for further information and to download registration forms available in 17 languages.

AVOTAYNU Publishes Jewish Family History Books in Print
In the Winter issue every year, AVOTAYNU lists Jewish family histories that have been published in the preceding twelve months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported.

The format to follow is: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Deadline for inclusion is December 15, 2006. Send information to

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

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