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

Volume 7, Number 21 | December 17, 2006

Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday) to all!

AOL Subscribers Did Not Receive Last Issue
If you use AOL, for some unknown reason, you did not receive the last issue of Nu? What's New? It is the issue which had as its lead article the new Stephen P. Morse Gold Form. You can find a copy of the issue at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu/v07n20.htm.

More Internet grief. When you read the Generali article below, you will see that the URL is spelled out rather than shown in normal URL format. The last issue of Nu? What's New? was delayed for more than eight hours because I could not get a test sample of the edition to be received at my e-mail address. The problem was finally isolated to the Generali article. Apparently, for no valid reason, mention of the URL is being banned by most major Internet Service Providers. Even mention of the URL in an attached Word file caused the e-mail to be treated as spam. Only by representing the URL in the awkward format below can the message be sent out.


Nu? What's New? Survey Provides Interesting Results
The first Nu
? What's New? survey, mentioned in the last issue of this e-zine, is completed. More than 3,200—47% of the 7,200 subscribers—participated. Some stereotypes of a Jewish genealogist were confirmed and others were not. Here are some observations based on the results:
  • Most Jewish genealogists are relatively new to the hobby—more than half have been researching their family history for less than 10 years.
  • Jewish genealogists rely on the volunteer efforts of others—68.8% of the respondents claim they do not volunteer for genealogy projects.
  • We are a computer-oriented, high-speed Internet-oriented group, but this appears to be true of all genealogists.
  • Jewish genealogists are well educated—47.7% have advanced (masters/doctorate) degrees.
  • Are we "little old ladies in tennis sneakers"? Unfortunately, an important question was accidentally left out of the survey—What is your gender (male/female)? But the survey did ask age and, remarkably, the typical Jewish genealogist is nearly seven years older (61.2 years) than the non-Jewish genealogist (54.6).
Most rewarding were the comments made by subscribers to the final question: How can we improve Nu? What's New? The vast majority of the comments extolled the value of the e-zine and the primary comment was "Leave it as is."

You can view all the results at http://www.avotaynu.com/survey/


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 those 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 http://www dot nazierainsurancesettlement dot com.


Call for Papers: 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
The 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is soliciting papers to be presented at the conference, July 15-20, 2007, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Program Committee will consider proposals submitted online at the event's website, http://www.slc2007.org. The deadline is December 31, 2006. Prospective speakers must submit a 50-word biography and a 100-word synopsis. Speakers will be notified of their status by February 28, 2007.

This year, the committee is looking for topics of wide interest, those which are new and/or unique. Primary consideration will be for programs not presented at the last three IAJGS conferences. The preference is for speakers who have completed extensive online or in-person research in Eastern Europe, South America or Israel. Other areas to be considered are emigration/immigration records, specifically from Hamburg, Bremen, Rotterdam and Liverpool. Methodology and little-used/little-known resources also will be considered. The complete list of program topics is on the website.

For questions regarding prospective presentation subject matter, contact Carole Montello, program@slc2007.org.


Add Your Family Website to JewishGen's FamilyLinks
JewishGen has links to more than 850 Internet sites that have Jewish family histories at http://www.jewishgen.org/family/. Is your family history web site part of this index? If not, include it. Have you used this site to see if any of the family names you are researching are included in someone else's family history site? Many of the submitters have listed the key surnames on their tree, and the site permits searching by surname or keyword.

If you do not have a web site and need assistance in creating one, JewishGen has provided a means for you to create your own. Just go to http://www.jewishgen.org/family/, click on "Add a Family Link," and follow the directions.


Online Jewish Genealogy Classes
When MyFamily.com dropped their online genealogy classes, a number of the instructors decided to continue the service and created GenClass at http://www.genclass.com. Two of the instructors are Micha Reisel and Schelly Talalay Dardashti, who both live in Israel. They will give a course in Basic Jewish Genealogy and another in Jewish Internet Research.

Basic Jewish genealogy provides a grounding in the essentials, tools of the trade, geography and names, archival information, immigration, online sites to search and the culture of remembrance, connecting, learning and sharing. Jewish Internet Research covers searching general and Jewish genealogy sites such as JewishGen, geographic specialization and finding/becoming a researcher.

Other courses offered by GenClass include Project Organization, Writing a Family History, Eastern European Research, Finding Lost Family and Adoption Investigation. You can register for the courses now. The cost is $29.95. The Jewish programs start in February.


New Electronic Magazine: Digital Genealogist
When MyFamily.com dropped its printed magazine, Genealogical Computing, its editor of seven years, Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens, concluded it still was a worthwhile publication, so she decided to produce her own version.

The new product is called Digital Genealogist, and it parallels the purpose of the former publication in that it focuses on the use of technology in genealogy. Many of the authors and columnists that wrote for Genealogical Computing are writing for the new publication.

The lead article of the first issue, "A Sneak Peek at the Near Future," by David Rencher of the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library, describes plans to expand the FamilySearch.org web site, the digitizing of their microfilms and other Library projects.

Volume 1, Number 1 is available for free online at http://www.digitalgenealogist.com. You can order a subscription at the site. Cost is $20 per year, and the publication is issued bimonthly. The magazine is sent via e-mail as a PDF file.


International Tracing Service on "60 Minutes"
If you live in the United States and read this before 7 p.m. New York time, on Sunday, December 17, the television news program, "60 Minutes," will feature a segment on the International Tracing Service located in Arolsen, Germany. This major repository of Holocaust-related records has been inaccessible in the past to the public except through written inquiries. There are now plans to have public access not only at Arolsen but in repositories in other countries. Advanced publicity erroneously has referred to it as "Hitler's Secret Archives" and a German archives. The concept of the International Tracing Service was created toward the end of World War II by the Allies and today is part of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The audio portion of "60 Minutes" can be heard live at http://www.wcbs880.com anywhere in the world at the time indicated.


Two Unusual Jewish Organizations: Kulanu and Shlach Amee V'yavdonee
Kulanu (Hebrew for "all of us") is an organization that describes itself as "dedicated to finding and assisting lost and dispersed remnants of the Jewish people." It has an Internet site at http://www.kulanu.org. Included are those "lost" as a result of war, exile and forced conversions. Examples are those believe to be descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes located today in India, Burma, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China. Another group are the Jews "lost" during the period of forced conversions to Christianity in Spain and Portugal starting in the 15th century. Many of these so-called Marrano/crypto-Jews/New Christians continued to practice Judaism in secret. Today their descendants can be found in Brazil, Mexico, southwestern United States, Majorca, as well as mainland Spain and Portugal.

The organization publishes a quarterly newsletter called Kulanu. Their latest issue includes articles with the titles "The New Abayudaya (Uganda) Coffee Song," "Changing of the Guard at Porto's (Portugal) Synagogue," "A New Congregation in the Dominican Republic," and "A New Renaissance in Italy." The lead sentence of the last article says "Something unusual is happening in Italy: a Roman Catholic church has been reconsecrated as a synagogue." The building was a synagogue until 1510 when the Jews were expelled from the area.

Shlach Amee V'yavdonee, offers free Jewish ancestry research to "lost Jews" through what they describe is "a meticulous process conducted by rabbis and genealogists." Their primary focus is on non-Jews whose direct maternal ancestry includes a Jewish woman, thus making them Jewish according to Jewish law. The documentation is presented to an orthodox rabbinic court that evaluates the evidence and may declare the person Jewish and, therefore, not required to go through a conversion process. The group derives its name from the passage in Exodus 5:1 which in English translates to "Let My people go, that they may serve Me." Their web site is located at http://www.shlachamee.org.


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

To be added or removed from this mailing list, go to the Internet site
http://www.avotaynu.com/nuwhatsnew.htm. To change your e-mail address, go to the same site and remove the old address and add the new address.

Back issues of
Nu? What's New? are available at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to
http://www.avotaynu.com/journal.htm

To order books from our catalog, go to
http://www.avotaynu.com/catalog.htm

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 155 N. Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621