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

Volume 8, Number 2 | January 28, 2007

Pressure Grows to Release Arolsen Records
In the past two weeks there have been conflicting stories about how quickly the records of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, will be released. An initial report stated it could take years because of the bureaucratic plan to have all 11 nations that must sign off on the release independently approve the measure. One spokesman said it was an internal matter to each of the countries involved, and they would look with disdain at any attempt to pressure them into speeding up the process.

Now the latest statement is that there will be an unscheduled meeting shortly to determine how quickly the files can be opened to the public. The meeting will be held in March in The Hague. This will be followed two months later by the annual session of the commission that controls ITS.

It would appear that someone got concerned about the risk of delay and decided that rather than have each of the 11 countries take its time making a decision, they will meet together and come to a decision that can be approved by the ITS commission.

You can read the plans in greater detail at

Online Petition to Release U.K. Censuses After 70 Years
The British government is offering its citizens the opportunity to sign a petition that would reduce the census release period from 100 years to 70 years, thus making the 1911, 1921 and 1931 censuses available immediately. British citizens only can add their name to the petition at

Two Additional Israeli Burial Societies Now Have Data Online
Two additional Chevrot Kadisha (burial societies) in Israel now have online information about persons buried in Israel. Ashdod Society is at The Tirat Carmel (near Haifa) is at

Already online are sites for Petah Tikvah, Safed and Tel Aviv. Most are in Hebrew only. The Israel Genealogical Society has an up-to- date list of Chevrot Kadisha with websites at

Family Tree "Chain Letter" Started
A twist to the idea of building a family tree has been started by a new company called An individual places a family tree at the site including the known e-mail addresses of living persons. then contacts these people and encourages to make additions to the tree including the e-mail addresses of people they add. The chain goes on and on. Each tree is private to the contributors to the tree.

Family members have the ability to add a profile which can be viewed by clicking their name in the tree. This helps them learn more about each other and stay in touch. Family members can also share information and work together to build profiles for common ancestors.

Additional information can be found at

News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at A log in is required. You can link the SIG home pages from There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at

Austria-Czech. Blumen der Erinnerung (Flowers of Memory) at has a database of Austrian Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Information provided often includes date and place of birth as well as date and place of death. Its search engine is located at You can search by first name, last name and town of origin. Nu? What's New? previously described another site, Dokumentationsarchiv des oesterreischen widerstandes (Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance), at in its Vol. 3, No. 3 - February 24, 2002 edition at Either site has content not found in the other.

Gesher Galicia. In 1839, a group of Protestant ministers from Scotland went on a trip through the Holyland and Eastern Europe for the purpose of surveying the Jews in the area to determine if they were ripe for proselytization. They published their findings in a book titled Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839. The book gives insight as to how Jews lived in the various areas at that time and is good background information for the genealogist/historian. It is now available at the Google book site. Go to and search for "Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry". That is sufficient to isolate the book. View the Table of Contents to find a geographic area of interest.

Two Valuable Indexes for Jewish Genealogy
There was a posting to a JewishGen Discussion Group that a person had just discovered the existence of the DOEW database of Austrian Jews murdered in the Holocaust described above. Nu? What's New? announced its existence in 2002. It reminded me that Avotaynu makes available two very valuable Jewish genealogical indexes; one for free, the other for a fee.

All back issues of Nu? What's New? are available on the Internet at On that page is a Google search engine that searches only the Avotaynu web site, including all back issues of Nu? What's New? The e-zine is in its eighth year of publication. We have published nearly 150 editions. Use the search engine to see if there is anything previously published that can help your research.

Avotaynu also offers all back issues of AVOTAYNU on CD-ROM. It contains all articles that have appeared in the journal from 1985 to 2005. In the past 22 years more than 2,000 articles of interest to persons tracing their Jewish family history have appeared. You can view the titles to these articles at

The CD includes a powerful search engine that permits multiple word searches, Boolean (And/Or) functions, wildcard and proximity searches. This time-saving method of doing research allows searching for every occurrence of a particular town, surname, or research topic of interest in the more than 3 million words published in AVOTAYNU since 1985. Every result is displayed on the screen and a Print function allows you to print articles. If you have been a loyal AVOTAYNU subscriber for years, the CD will allow you to find those references you have missed, forgotten about, or merely scanned.

The price for AVOTAYNU on CD-ROM is $99.95 plus shipping. If you already own the 1996, 1999 or 2002 version of the CD, you can upgrade at a special reduced rate. Just return your current copy to our office with a check (U.S. bank only) for $29.95 plus shipping, and we will send you the 2006 version. Current users outside the United States can pay with Visa or MasterCard.

Order the CD at

Otto Frank Letters Found at YIVO Institute
Estelle Guzik, a past president of the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York), working as a volunteer archivist at YIVO Institute has found a set of letters written by Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank. The documents were part of the collection of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) which has its archives at YIVO.

Frank wrote the letters between April 30, 1941 and Dec. 11, 1941 (when Germany declared war on the U.S.). The Franks began their two years in hiding in an attic above his Amsterdam office in July 1942.

Additional information can be found at,8599,1582101,00.html

A Case Study in Persistence, Patience and Networking

Three important elements of genealogical research are persistence, patience and networking. Here is a very recent example.

Those of you who are AVOTAYNU subscribers for more than a year are familiar with the story of Evelyne Haendel, the child survivor of the Holocaust, whom I helped find family and return to Judaism. Well, the saga did not end at that point. After finding maternal relatives, Evelyne and I focused on her paternal side.

Persistence. Her father was born in Snyatyn, Ukraine, so we took the direct route and determined from that the Jewish records of the town are scant. We had no evidence that her father had siblings (he was murdered at Auschwitz). We had no evidence her paternal grandfather had siblings. Evelyne, some years ago, located a woman in Paris who was one of the granddaughters of an Isaac Haendel from Snyatyn. They knew they were related because the youngest son of one of Isaac's granddaughters pulled out some pictures of his grandmother and great-aunt with Evelyne’s mother. He also remembered his great-aunt saying they had tried to rescue a little cousin after WWII. Still Evelyne could not make the tie between  her family and Isaac Haendel. Isaac's parents' given names were Ire and Tauba. Evelyne's discovered that her paternal grandmother, Jetti Hecht, also murdered at Auschwitz, had parents named Ire and Tauba. How could Isaac Haendel and Jetti Hecht be brother and sister? I told Evelyne that since Isaac was born in Mihaileni, Romania, his father registered his newborn son as Isaac Haendel. The family then moved to Snyatyn, Galicia. When Jetti was born, the father could not prove to the Galician authorities he was married in a civil ceremony so the authorities declared Jetti to be illegitimate and gave her the surname of her mother: Hecht. Evelyne could accept the concept but doubt it. I assured her this was common in Galicia. Evelyne continued to doubt it.

Evelyne hired genealogists to search records in Ukraine (Alexander Dunai), Romania (Ladislau Gyemant) and Poland (Krzystof Malczewski) to find records of her paternal ancestry with little success. Gyemant did find the birth record of Isaac Haendel in Mihaileni as well as a birth record of a daughter named Sara. Years earlier, Evelyne contacted people in the JewishGen Family Finder researching Hecht and Haendel from Snyatyn with no success. There appeared to be no records of the presence of the Hecht or Haendel families in Snyatyn. It appeared to be another case of a genealogical brick wall.

Patience. Just about a month ago, there was a posting to the JewishGen Discussion group that three books identifying Jewish refugees from Galicia in 1914–15 had been digitized and placed on the Internet. I went to the list of Jews from Snyatyn and found an Adela Haendel. The information was sent to Evelyne and her reply was one of excitement. Adela Haendel had given as her address the house where Evelyne's paternal grandparents Jacob and Jetti Haendel lived in Vienna at that time.

Evelyne asked a person in England with good contacts with the Jewish records office in Vienna (IKG) to get information about Adela Haendel.  Information on Ettel’s(Adela) marriage record  to Nathan Koenig was received within days. It was witnessed by Isaac and Jacob Haendel. It listed Ettel's parents as Alter Ire Haendel and Tauba née Hecht. So I was right as to how Jetti acquired the surname Hecht. (For doubting me, Evelyne now owes me two boxes of Belgian chocolates.)

Evelyne recalled that the great-grandson of Isaac who had shown the family pictures had also mentioned that there had been relatives who went to Canada named Koenig or may have changed their name into King. How to find these people who immigrated to Canada in the late 1930s?

Networking. I contacted Merle Kastner of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal and through her contacts, in less than two days, Evelyne had the names of the three children of Nathan and Ettel Haendel Koenig. She contacted them immediately. They informed her that Jetti, Ettel, Sara (probably died young) and Isaac also had two other brothers: Moshe who went to New York and Wolf who went to Israel. The quest is now on to find the family of these two men. The Canadians also mentioned they were vaguely aware of her existence because their mother, Ettel, once talked of a child member of the family who survived the Holocaust and was brought up by Christians.

Help Grow the Shoah Victims’ Names Database
Yad Vashem wants volunteers who are willing to contact local institutions and individuals to grow the Shoah Victims Database whose principal documents are Pages of Testimony. With the aid of promotional materials Yad Vashem has developed, volunteers will reach out to survivors and their families and assist them in registering the names of Jews who they know were murdered in the Shoah. This will be done through synagogues, Holocaust centers, Jewish Community Centers, Jewish student organizations, senior centers and social service agencies. To volunteer send your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to with the subject heading "Names Volunteer"

To submit a Page of Testimony, there is a link on the left portion of the screen from the Basic Search page at Click the words “Submit Additional Names.”

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