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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 10, Number 3 | February 8, 2009

This edition is going to 8,332 subscribers

JewishGen Now on Ancestry Servers
JewishGen is now operational on servers and the performance difference is remarkable. The increasing popularity of this “Home of Jewish Genealogy” overtaxed the organization’s servers, often to the point where searches would time out. The intense usage also caused the equipment to break down from time to time. Now all the JewishGen data is housed on high-speed equipment and search results are almost instantaneous. A search of the JewishGen Family Finder was executed in two seconds; Family Tree of the Jewish People also in two seconds and a Jewish Records Indexing-Poland search in 11 seconds. The latter search used to take upwards of a minute.

No, JewishGen and Ancestry Are Not Merging
It is quite amazing. In the past two weeks I have received two inquiries that started with “Now that JewishGen and Ancestry are merging...”

JewishGen and Ancestry are not merging. Repeat. JewishGen and Ancestry are not merging. All that happened was Ancestry gained the rights to include selective databases from JewishGen in the Ancestry environment. JewishGen will continue to exist independent of Ancestry. The principal advantage to users is that in one location,, you can find Jewish and secular information about individuals. For example, at the Ancestry site, I was able to find Reuben Mokotoff in the Social Security Death Index and the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). The disadvantage of the Ancestry site is that, for some reason, they did not necessarily copy all the components of certain JewishGen databases. In the case of JOWBR, Ancestry states that Reuben Mokotoff is buried in New York State. JewishGen gives the exact cemetery: Mt. Sinai Cemetery in Pine Bush, New York.

Registration Open for 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies has announced that registration is now open for the 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Philadelphia from August 2–7. It is also possible to make hotel reservations at this time from the conference site at The conference will be co-hosted by IAJGS and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia.

Conference registration rates are:
    • Early Bird Registration (through April 30, 2009): Full-$250; Companion-$150
    • Regular Registration (May 1-July 24, 2009: Full-$295; Companion-$195
    • On-Site Registration (after July 25, 2009: Full-$325; Companion $225.
    • Daily Registration: Sunday (including Opening Reception: $95; Monday-Thursday; $75 per day; Friday morning: $40.
To be eligible for companion registration, both parties must reside in the same household.

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 where we sell our books, maps and CDs.) The conference is also the best place to network with the hundreds of people who will attend. Offering 33-Marker DNA Test for $79 has reduced the price of its 33-marker paternal lineage DNA test to $79, down from $149. Information is available at charges $149 for its 12-marker test and $259 for its 37-marker test. FTDNA currently has the largest Jewish DNA database with which to match results. It also has more than 4,000 surname projects and more than 1,000 other projects (example: geographical) which people join to determine if they are related to other individuals.

“Who Do You Think You Are?” Genealogy TV Show Coming to U.S.
The popular British TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” is coming to the U.S. The NBC network will air an American version of the popular show Mondays at 8 pm starting in April. In each episode, a celebrity goes on a journey to trace his or her family tree as they uncover stories “about love, secrets and triumphs in his or her family's past, while also weaving the family story into the larger narrative of American history.” Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon are some of the planned celebrities.

The British version of the program started in 2004. In 2007, the Canadian Broadcasting Company aired their version of the show and in 2008, it came to Australia.

Riverside Cemetery Is Eighth New York-area Jewish Cemetery To Go Online
Riverside Cemetery in Saddle Brook, New Jersey has become the eighth Jewish cemetery in the New York City area to go online. It may be the first that is genealogy friendly—it has a “Genealogy Search” button on its home page. The site is located at

Searching requires last name or initial portion of last name. Optionally first name or initial portion of first name can be included. Providing year of death is another option. Results are name, year of death and a record locator number. Clicking on this number generates an e-mail request to the cemetery for further information. Unfortunately this site was discovered today, Sunday, so it is unknown what additional information is provided.

Other cemeteries in the New York City area with online burial information are:
    Mount Ararat Cemetery
    Mount Carmel Cemetery
    Mount Hebron Cemetery
    Mount Judah
    Mount Lebanon
    Mount Moriah Cemetery, Fairview, New Jersey
    Mount Zion Cemetery Database Grows, a fee-for-service site, has added more than 30,000 records to its site which now includes more than 500,000 records plus many tombstone images. Added recently are a large batch of records from Brooklyn's Washington cemetery and an index to 4,900 images from Mt. of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. Some of the data available at the site is free; others require a subscription. For example, searching for the surname Mokotoff resulted in the information that Charles and Esther Mokotoff are buried in Washington Cemetery giving their death years. To view their tombstone requires a subscription.

Are You a Snowbird?
Do you subscribe to AVOTAYNU and winter in the warmer climes and spend the other half of the year in more northerly areas? Be sure to send us a change of address to assure the next issue of AVOTAYNU reaches you. You must do this every time you move. We do not keep in our records your two addresses, because people relocate at different times and not to the same address each time. Send changes of address to

Photo Exhibit of Malines Deportations Now Exhibited in Brussels
In 2007, Jewish Deportation and Resistance Museum located in the transit camp in Caserne Dossin, Belgium, created a wall of photographs of 1,200 people, mostly Jews, who were deported on Convoy XX that left that city going to Auschwitz. The presentation ran for more than 100 meters (328 feet) on a wall, five photographs high. Avotaynu created a web site of photos of the exhibit at The exhibit is now displayed on the gates of the park that is opposite the King’s palace in Brussels. Malines was the Belgian town from which 24,916 Jews and 351 gypsies were deported to Auschwitz. Only 1,221 survived.

New Books Planned by Avotaynu
Avotaynu plans to publish two new books in the first half of 2009. The exact dates of publication have not been determined.

Neighborhoods of urban areas change their ethnicity as the years go by as one group moves on to other areas, usually the suburbs, and are replaced by new ethnic groups. Many areas of Brooklyn, New York, once teemed with Jews. As the Jews moved on, such areas as Brownsville, East Flatbush and East New York, could no longer support its shuls (synagogues). The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn, by Ellen Levitt, is a photographic essay of 89 ex-shuls in Brooklyn, New York. Each ex-shul is represented by a photograph of the structure as it exists today accompanied by a brief history of the shul and how it is now used. These areas of Brooklyn were once so heavily Jewish that Levitt identified more than 30 ex-shuls in the one square mile area that was Brooklyn’s Brownsville section.

Road to Victory, the English-language translation of the Yiddish (Der Veg Zum Nizakhon), then Hebrew (HaDerech El Nitzachon) book, is mostly first-person accounts of 120 Jewish soldiers who fought in the Second World War within the ranks of the Red Army’s 16th Lithuanian Division. They represent the large corps of 4,500 Jewish fighters who took up arms in order to destroy the German enemy as well as to liberate the remnants of the Jews in Lithuania—the survivors of the Shoah. The book is edited by Dorothy Leivers, the author of The Jews of Kopcheve, also published by Avotaynu.

Digital Publishing
Avotaynu has looked into the idea of publishing our journal AVOTAYNU digitally rather than in paper form and has found that the economics are not there. But in the past month I had the opportunity to look at two examples of digital magazines, and they are undoubtedly going to be much more commonplace in the future. One problem with the application is that there are many companies competing for the digital publishing market, and each claims to be bigger, better, prettier than their competitors. If you subscribed to seven different digital magazines, you might be faced with seven different digital magazine software systems that each operate in a different manner. It is comparable to having the data of one of your family trees on Family Tree Maker, another on The Master Genealogists, a third using Brother’s Keeper, etc.

My first exposure to a digital magazine was when I was informed a month ago that “PC Magazine” which I subscribe to, was going 100% digital. No longer would they be publishing a paper version of the magazine. I received a notice last week that the February issue was available and when I accessed it, I had to initially download software and finally had access to the magazine. I was unimpressed with digital publishing. One problem is that unless you have a very large screen, perhaps 22" might do, you cannot read the text on the screen. Clicking on the mouse caused the image to zoom in to a level that made it readable, but then the entire page was not viewable and you have to use the mouse to drag the image around so that you could read the page left to right, top to bottom.

A few days ago I received a solicitation from another company that offers digital publishing, and they allowed me to place the last issue of AVOTAYNU on the Internet to see what it was like to have the issue digitally published. Avotaynu has no plans to digitally publish our journal, but I thought it would be interesting to see what it was like.

This last issue of AVOTAYNU is now on the Internet and will be there only for about a week (assume it will end February 15). For those readers who are unfamiliar with digital publishing, it will give you the opportunity to try it out. Furthermore, for those of you not familiar with AVOTAYNU, it will give you the opportunity to read an issue for free and gain an understanding why we have such a large number of loyal readers. The first article in the issue is written by me proposing a standard way of identifying dates, names and places in a genealogical database. In addition to the 13 articles in the issue, be sure to read “U.S. Update” and “From Our Contributing Editors” which provide information about happenings in Jewish genealogy throughout the world. There are also book reviews and an “Ask the Experts” column.

You can read the digital version of the issue at I found the system design, developed by Zmags, to be very intuitive. There is no training needed to turn pages and zoom in/out to read the articles

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at A new 5-issue subscription will include our Winter issue that contains human interest stories as well as articles that increase your knowledge of Jewish family history research. Human interest stores previously published in AVOTAYNU were the basis of our book, Every Family Has a Story.

Nu? What's New is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2009, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

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