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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 9, Number 25 | November 9, 2008

This edition is going to 8,255 subscribers

Webinar a Great Success
More than 1,300 people signed up to attend the webinar that unveiled their new Jewish genealogy landing page at Mike Daniels of Ancestry and I walked the listeners through the pages of the web site teaching them about the resources available and how to navigate the site. Feedback from those who attended indicated the presentation was of value to them.

The webinar is now in the Ancestry archives. You can view it by going to and clicking the appropriate topic. Upon reaching the site, I recommend you first click “Test Your System” to confirm you have the additional software that will allow you to view the webinar.

Canadian Research Through Library and Archives of Canada
Library and Archives of Canada has a web site called the Canadian Genealogy Centre that has an index to nearly three million records in a variety of categories. It is located at I could not find a simple list of the entire collection, but you can find it by clicking “Search fo Ancestors (Databases).” On the following page click the drop-down menu on the line “Topics.” For example, they have 830,2311 immigrations records from 1925–1935.

If you have interest in Canadian research, the entire web site has information that may be of value. Under “Other Web Sites” it introduces you to AVITUS, a directory of Canadian genealogical resources. Using the keyword “Jewish” it provided links to the various Jewish genealogical societies in Canada as well as the site of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. All told, there are 22 topics covered under the category “Jewish”. An example is the indexing of the Lethbridge Jewish cemetery by the Alberta Family Histor
Ancestry.comies Society.

South African Research
The South African Jewish Rootsbank has a number of databases about the Jewish presence in that country. These include vital records as well as military, community, congregational, cemetery, immigration and naturalization records. They claim that 95% of all South African Jewish burial records are online. Immigration records cover the years 1895–1925. The site is located at

Rootsbank is part of the Centre for Jewish Migration & Genealogy Studies which is under the auspices of the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre at the University of Cape Town. The objective of the Centre is to map the entire history of Jewish migration to South Africa and to integrate genealogical data in multi-disciplinary research initiatives and create a comprehensive database of records and information relating to Jewish immigration and settlement in South Africa

New FamilySearch Site
I have avoided making readers aware of the new FamilySearch—the Mormon Church genealogy site—because most of the databases are duplicated at other free sites (Examples: Ellis Island records and Social Security Death Index) and are Christian records or pre-1880 U.S. records.

But there now are a few databases that might be of value to Jewish researchers (Example: Philadelphia Marriage Index 1885–1951). Another possible index of value might be Rio de Janeiro civil registrations, 1886–2006. The site is located at If you get too many hits because the results include the Ellis Island database and Social Security Index, you might find it easier to search just a particular record group. You can accomplish this by clicking on the map on the home page. This will provide a list of all the record groups for that geographic area. Clicking on a particular record group name will bring you to a page where you can search that group only.

Incidentally, it was the Mormon Church that indexed the Ellis Island Database located at using thousands of volunteers. They donated it to the Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation who placed it on the Internet. Adds French Vital Records Index has added Parisian vital records indexes and images to their site. Specifically they are:
    • Paris, France & Vicinity Births, 1700–1899 (in French)
    • Paris, France & Vicinity Marriages, 1710–1907 (in French)
    • Paris, France & Vicinity Deaths, 1707–1907 (in French)
    • Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860–1902 (in French)

All told, there are some 13 million entries.

Scottish Resources
An official government web site,, provides many records about the people of Scotland. This includes births, 1855–2006; marriages 1855–1932; deaths 1855–2006; and censuses from 1841 to 1901. At its home page, you can do a surname search and the results will show how many hits there are for each record group. Unusual for a government site, there is a fee to see even the index portion of the actual results. You can purchase 30 credits for £6 (about $10). The charge is one credit for each page viewed of the index and five credits to retrieve the actual record, if available. I did a broad search of the surname Levy in the birth records. The results were available on 24 pages. Each page would have cost one credit to view.

Holocaust Site:
A web site,, has an index to various records of people caught up in the Holocaust. Their latest addition is a list of Jewish refugees who were allowed to enter Switzerland, primarily between 1942 and 1945. The project is run by a French non-profit organization, Doro[t]|association d'histoire (sic), whose goal is to provide information for
families and researchers on the fate of Jewish refugees in Europe. The site now has 47,500 entries.

Recommended Chanukah Gift #2
Every Family Has a Story at a Discount
There is one book published by Avotaynu that was encouraged by a person who is not a genealogist: Every Family Has a Story.

My wife Ruth and I regularly had dinner with Ruth’s childhood friend. From time to time I would relate some of the unusual stories of how genealogical research affected people’s lives. One evening, Ruth’s friend said to me, “You really should publish a book about all these stories. They are fascinating.” I tested her sincerity by sending her sample stories (actually what are now the first five articles in the book), and she came back and said encouraged me to publish them in book form.

Every Family Has a Story would make a great Chanukah gift to a friend or relative who enjoys reading books and really doesn’t get why we all do family history.

The lead story, “Freya Joins the Kahn Klan,” relates how a genealogist who was adopted at birth found her birth family and discovered she was one of eight children, the only one adopted out. The next story, “Evelyne Reclaims Her Identity,” recounts how the genealogical community helped a child survivor of the Holocaust locate family and return to Judaism. The third article, “The Diary of Miriam Hanania,” tells of a genealogist’s quest to locate the author of a pre-Holocaust diary. “A Priest in the Family” is the delightful story of how a Polish Catholic family acquired a Jewish surname.

The book consists of 71 articles that appeared in AVOTAYNU that are about the human side of genealogy; how genealogical research affected people, both the researcher and the people found.

Discount offer for AVOTAYNU quarterly journal subscribers only. As our Chanukah gift to you, we are offering Every Family at a discount. The book regularly sells for $37.00. If purchased by December 1, you can buy it for $29.95 plus shipping; a 19% discount. Order it at the special discount page at Also at the site is the complete Table of Contents plus the complete story of “The Diary of Miriam Hanania.”

Again, this is to AVOTAYNU subscribers only, not to all Nu? What’s New? subscribers. If you are not currenlty an AVOTAYNU subscriber, you can subscribe at The annual cost is $38.00 in the U.S. and Canada and $46 in other countries.

Another Excellent Chanukah Gift for Only $99
In the last edition of Nu? What’s New? we recommended Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust as a Chanukah gift for a personal or institutional library. This remarkable three-volume, 1,824-page work provides information about more than 6,500 communities, primarily in Continental Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. Through special arrangements with the publisher, we are offering it for only $99.00 plus shipping. It originally sold for $325. Ordering information plus a complete list of towns can be found at

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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