Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy From Avotaynu

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 9, Number 4 | February 17, 2008

New Book: Every Family Has a Story
Avotaynu will publish shortly its next major work: Every Family Has a Story: Tales from the Pages of AVOTAYNU. It consists of 72 AVOTAYNU articles that focus on the human side of genealogy—how genealogists have been personally affected by their research and how the research of genealogists has affected others.

We have chosen the best of these stories and some of them are quite remarkable. Interestingly, the lead article in the book was the very first human interest story we ever published in AVOTAYNU: “Freya Joins the Kahn Klan.” It relates how a woman, who was adopted shortly after birth, decided to locate her birth family when, in her mid-40s, she became interested in genealogy. She discovered she was one of eight children—the only one adopted out. None of her birth siblings knew of her existence. How she found the family and the consequences would make a Hollywood movie.

The second story in the book is the one that created the most feedback from AVOTAYNU readers: “Evelyne Regains Her Identity.” It relates how I helped a child survivor of the Holocaust find family. Evelyne had spent her entire life without family and with little exposure to her Jewish heritage. How I found her American cousins and helped her regain her Jewish identity is described in the article.

Every Family Has a Story is divided into eight sections. The first section, titled “Potpourri” contains a mixture of articles chosen as the best of the best human interest articles selected for the book. In addition to the above-mentioned articles, there is one by Batya Unterschatz, “The Diary of Miriam Hanania.” It relates how she helped locate a woman who wrote a pre-Holocaust diary as a teenager. The story has a shocking ending. The most unusual name-change story we have ever published is described in “A Priest in the Family.” Valery Bazarov of HIAS and Marian Smith of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services relate a very unusual immigrant story in “Children Under 16 Unaccompanied by Parent: The Family Zuser.” When a Jewish woman with four children got off the boat at Ellis Island, the authorities got suspicious that two of the children were not hers—they were black. Finally, the Potpourri section ends with the real origin of the legend of Sean Ferguson, the hapless Jewish immigrant whose name was changed at Ellis Island.

The remaining stories are divided into sections: People, Family, Back to the Old Country, Crypto-Jews, Luck, Genealogy and Holocaust. One of the best stories is last in the book. Written by Olga Zabludoff and titled “When Good Men Do Nothing,” it relates how the author, with the help of local citizens, restored the Jewish cemetery and mass graves in Butrimonys, Lithuania, site of the murder of 1,230 Jewish men, women and children. In my correspondence with Olga, I apologized for making her story the last. She responded that it was of no concern to her. With the name Zabludoff, she was used to being placed last.

Some stories required an Epilogue because additional events occurred after the time the story was published in AVOTAYNU. For example, “Freya Joins the Kahn Klan” ends with the author discovering her birth family who welcomed her with open arms. The consequence of joining the Kahns was more remarkable than the hunt for the family itself. It has never been published and appears as an epilogue to the original story. Similarly, “Evelyne Regains Her Identity” ends with discovery, in the summer of 2005, of a first cousin living in Florida. What has happened since then is a story unto itself and is related in an epilogue.

Every Family Has a Story costs $37.00 plus shipping. It is hard cover and has 304 pages. The complete Table of Contents, which is annotated, as well as ordering information can be found at We have also included a sample story from the book—Batya Unterschatz’s story. Genealogists will not only find the book interesting reading, but will undoubtedly want to give it to family and friends to demonstrate that “this is what genealogy really is all about.”

Special Pre-publication Discount Offer Until March 3 for Every Family Has a Story
For those Nu? What’s New? readers who subscribe to AVOTAYNU, our journal of Jewish genealogy, we are offering a pre-publication discount. You can buy “Every Family Has a Story” for only $29.95 plus shipping, if the order is placed before March 3. When ordering the book at, just indicate that you are an AVOTAYNU subscriber in the Special instructions/comments field (we will check anyway) to earn the discount. If you are not a subscriber, you can do so at and earn the discount.

The book will be in print in late March or early April. Purchasers will not be charged until the book is shipped.

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU in the Mail
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU is in the mail. If your subscription expires with this issue, there will be a yellow insert with the issue providing information on how to resubscribe. If you are not already an AVOTAYNU subscriber and wish to subscribe, you can do so at There is a special five-issue offer that includes the Winter issue. It is our human interest issue and includes articles about how genealogy influenced people’s lives. Adds 1.2 Million More Records to Its National Burial Index
The fee-for-service site,, has added an additional 1.2 million records to its National Burial Index, an index of people who died in the UK. The new records cover the counties of Somersetshire, Dorset and Essex. They have been contributed by the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society and the East of London Family History Society as part of an arrangement with the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) to transfer their local family history society records to The details of over 11 million burials are now contained in the database.

As previously reported in Nu? What’s New? the site also includes a number of other valuable databases including British emigration lists from 1890–1949, British censuses 1841–91, various military records, and a variety of vital record indexes for England and Wales.

Additional IAJGS Conference News
The Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington has accepted an invitation from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) to host the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy during the summer of 2011. This year’s conference will be in Chicago and next year it will be in Philadelphia. The 2010 conference site has not been announced.

Registration for this year’s conference, to be held August 17–22 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown, is now available at There is a discounted early-bird registration through April 30. Those who register by March 15 will participate in a drawing; the winner will receive up to five nights lodging at the hotel.

My participation at the conference will include a “Breakfast with Experts” session on the International Tracing Service and a computer class on using the Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names and the Avotaynu Consolidated Jewish Surname index. Of course, Avotaynu will be an exhibitor of its books. It is expected that Alexander Beider’s long-awaited revised edition of “A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire” will be published in time for the conference.

The annual conference is the premier event of the Jewish genealogical year. The event will include more than 100 lectures on a variety of subjects. The Jewish Special Interest Groups (SIGs) hold their meetings at that time. Luncheons provide for interaction with other researchers and additional lectures. A vendor exhibit hall will include a number of companies selling their products. (Avotaynu is a major exhibitor and will be selling our books, maps and CDs.) The conference is also the best place to network with the hundreds of people who will attend. Adds Index to Viennese Turkish Births has added an index of births of the Vienna Turkish (Sephardic) community to it site. It consists of 1440 births from 1832–1938, and, including names of parents, identifies about 4,750 persons. An index to marriages of this community is planned. The searchable database is located at: The index was developed by Mathilde Tagger coauthor of Guidebook for Sephardic and Oriental Genealogical Sources in Israel which is published by Avotaynu. has a number of other databases for Sephardic genealogy. They include a Consolidated Index to Sephardic Names and a number of databases by country including Algeria, Austria. Bulgaria, Egypt, Eretz Israel, Great Britain, Greece, (Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Syria as a group), Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.

An article about the website appears in the Winter issue of AVOTAYNU just published. It is written by Jeffrey S. Malka, author of the website.

Immigrants to São Paulo, Brazil, Online
A list of immigrants who came to the State of São Paulo, Brazil, is available at Most of the records are for the period 1885–1925, but there are some as late as 1948. Searching for the given name John produced only about 200 entries. It does not have wildcard ability, but interestingly you can search by first name only. If you click on the name of an individual, it displays all persons who accompanied him/her. The site is sponsored by the Department of Museums and Archives, of the State Secretary of the Culture of São Paulo. You can order a certificate for about US$10–15.

ProQuest Digitizes Boston Globe 1872–1922
ProQuest has added 50 years worth of issues of the Boston Globe, 1872-1922, to its digital collection of U.S. newspapers, which include the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and others. It provides full word searching of the issues of the newspapers. They do not offer individual subscriptions to the service; it is available only through institutions, primarily libraries.

Dachau Inmates List at Morse Site
An index to 160,000 inmates of Dachau concentration camp is available at the Stephen P. Morse website at The information provided, when known, includes name, birth date, town of residence, prisoner number, arrival date and disposition (examples: died, liberated). The search engine has the usual host of options available that exist for many other databases at the Morse site. The database was made available to Morse by Peter Landé of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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.”

Nu? What's New is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2008, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To be added or removed from this mailing list, go to the Internet site 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

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

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