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

Volume 7, Number 22 | December 31, 2006

Happy New Year to all!!

Many Wikipedias for Genealogy
Jean-Pierre Stroweis, past president of the Israel Genealogy Society, notes that there are now three Wikipedias for genealogy; one each for English, French and Hebrew. They are located at:
English: 4,757 articles at
French: 44,688 articles at

Wikipedias are encyclopedias where any person can contribute or edit an article. The most popular wikipedia,, contains more then 3 million articles. The potential downside of these encyclopedias is that they may contain erroneous or fraudulent information. My personal use of has found it to be highly accurate. A downside example is that recently I searched Google for sites that include the name "Mokotoff" and discovered that the Dutch version of had an article named "Mokotoff." The Dutch language is sufficiently close to English, and I was able to determine that the article stated that Mokotoff was the name of a Jewish Mafia-like family that dealt in drug trafficking. I had the article removed from the site.

Shoah Victims' Names Database Grows and Grows
Since the Shoah Victims' Names Database went online in November 2004, Yad Vashem has added more than 500,000 additional records and has plans to add 1 million more in 2007. Yad Vashem is using a variety of sources such as yizkor books, which account for half of the names added since 2004.

Archives director, Yaakov Lozowick, states that the most significant part of the story is that during the past 4-5 months, Yad Vashem has begun to systematically enter data from its archival collections (as opposed to Pages of Testimony or list projects done by others). Each personal record contains information about the individual and also about the document in which it is found, the file, and the collection. The file itself is scanned and connected to the typed data. The first group of entries done from the Yad Vashem collection is the reports of the Soviet Extraordinary Commission; the first 150,000 or so of these records should go online soon.

You can link to the Shoah Victims' Names Database from the Yad Vashem Home Page at Click on the picture of the little girl.

U.S. Senator Calls for Rapid Release of ITS Records
Politicians are now calling for the rapid release to the public of the records of the International Tracing Service. U.S. Senator Joseph Biden of Deleware, who will chair the important Senate Foreign Relations Committee starting in 2007, is said to be pressing the governments who must approve the release to act quickly. He notes that the Holocaust population is elderly, and it is important that they gain access to these records as quickly as possible.

ITS Documentary Available on Internet
If you did not see the twelve-minute documentary on plans to give public access to the records of the International Tracing Service, it can be viewed on the Internet at Click the link that says "Nazi Archive Made Public." The program was part of a regular broadcast of the popular U.S. news program 60 Minutes and featured three Holocaust survivors viewing for the first time documents of their imprisonment during the Holocaust period.

Center for Jewish History Integrated Index Now Online
The Center for Jewish History in New York now has an integrated online index to the holdings of the institutions located at the Center. This incudes the American Jewish Historical Society, American Sefardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Considering the diversity of these groups and their extensive holdings, the index provides an excellent source for determining what material is available on a given subject. The index can be accessed directly from

The search engine appears to very flexible. It allows wild card searches and most languages including Yiddish and Hebrew. It can search over the entire contents of the catalog entry including author, title, subject and description.

Certain collections at the Center are stand alone and have their own index which is not integrated into the combined index. For example, the combined index does not include YIVO's photographic collection, which can be found at This collection includes many photographs of the shtetls of Eastern Europe.

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

JRI-Poland. The Jewish Records Indexing-Poland database now includes data indexed from all the LDS Microfilms for Lublin, Radzyn Podlaski, Zamosc and Gowarczow. Also additional data has been added for Warszawa and Sandomierz. More than 35,000 new indices are now available.

German SIG. The Landesverband der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinden in Bayern (Association of Jewish Communities in Bavaria) has a web site at It includes names and addresses of the Jewish communities (Gemeinden), detailed and illustrated descriptions of the cemeteries (Friedhöfe), the latest issue of their publication Jüdisches Leben in Bayern (Jewish life in Bavaria) and other material.

Hungarian SIG. The LDS (Mormon) Family History Library has added birth, marriage and death records for the Jewish population of a number of towns in the Slovak Republic. They include the towns of Brezova pod Bradlom, Casta, Chropov, Dunajska Streda, Nove Zamky, Prievidza, Sahy and Stara Lubovna.

Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won't Go Away
Simon Wiesenthal "Baptized"
One of the most prominent Jews of the 20th century, Simon Wiesenthal, was discovered to be in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints International Genealogical Index (IGI), the database of deceased people for whom Mormon rituals have been or are about to be performed. When made aware of it, the Church removed the name and stated that Wiesenthal was never baptized. A person cannot appear in the IGI unless some Mormon ordinance has been performed or the person is "Cleared" for baptism. It is likely that only the discovery of Wiesenthal's name prevented the posthumous baptism from occurring. The Mormon Church claims the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives them the right to involve other people's families in their religion, apparently including the Wiesenthal family. You can seee the removed IGI entry at

Comments on the Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
We are currently working on the Winter issue of AVOTAYNU. It is my favorite issue of the year, because it is the one where we invite readers to submit articles about their emotional involvement in genealogy. There has been a trend in recent years as to the type of articles we receive. More and more the articles are about the emotional impact of discovering the fate of family during the Holocaust period.

Typical of the human-interest articles in the Winter issue is a very short story by Steve Byars of Nevada:

End of the Search
    After considerable genealogical success with my father's (Baptist) family, I tried to focus seriously on my mother's (Jewish) family. I did considerable work, with little success. Thinking that I needed to refine my techniques for doing Jewish genealogy, I bought several books to study and attended several of Gary Mokotoff's and Eileen Polakoff's week-long genealogy classes in Salt Lake City. I learned awesome amounts, but the results on my family were poor.
    One day I was at a local synagogue in Reno, Nevada, studying in its library. For some odd reason, I began to look through the books used by the synagogue's school kids. I found a history book and looked up my ancestral hometown of Turka, Ukraine. In two short paragraphs the book related how the local Ukrainians helped the Nazi's march all the town's Jews into the woods, murdered them, and then buried them in a common trench. Afterwards all the records about the Jews were collected—and burned.
    The librarian later told me that she watched me sit there, staring at that book without moving for more than two hours. She was just getting ready to call for help when I laid the book down and walked out, leaving my notebooks, backpack and all it contained laying there. I never went back to get them. I knew all I was ever going to know about my mother's family.

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Avotaynu Site Has a New Look
Our web site has a new look. I have a strong computer software background, and the original design of the Avotaynu web site was my own. I left the software business in 1993 and decided, recently, that the design of the Avotaynu site looked like it was designed by a person who left the software business in 1993, so we hired a professional web designer to redo the site. Take a look at

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