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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 10, Number 6 | March 29, 2009

This edition is going to 8,403 subscribers

Searching JewishGen's 43,000 Pages
Warren Blatt, Managing Director of JewishGen, states that there are 43,000 static web pages at the JewishGen website. The question comes to mind whether there pages valuable to my research that I have overlooked in this vast collection of Jewish genealogical material.

JewishGen has solved this problem with its own internal search engine. Click “JewishGen” on the menu bar at the top of the JewishGen home page and select from the pull-down menu “Search website.” Alternately, go directly to the search page at

When I searched for the Mokotow family’s ancestral town of Warka, Poland, there were 80 hits. Included were a JewishGen family web site set up by a man whose family also came from Warka. Also at the site is a Warka business directory for the years 1925–1927 that included two Mokotows. There are also some historical facts about the town and sources of information. These were all known to me but might not be known to a person just starting out down the family history path.

The search engine has a lot of flexibility. It includes a wildcard search by using an asterisk(*), the standard character in most search engines to represent any number of letters, and a question mark(?), which represents a single letter. There are many variants of the surname Mokotow: Mokotoff, Mokotow, Mokotowski and Mokotowicz. By searching for “mokot*”, the JewishGen search engine, found 429 references to Mokotoff (probably mostly to me or the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System), 23 for Mokotow, 6 for Mokotowski/Mokotowska, 3 for Mokotowicz and mokot (2), mokotiw (1), mokoton (2), mokotov (2), mokotovicz (2), mokotovsky (1), mokotower (1), mokotowie (1), mokotîw (1), mokotów (2). Some of these sites provided information previously unknown to me about the Mokotow clan.

The second character of Mokotow often is misstated as “a,” “i” or “u,” so a more complex wildcard search of “m?kot*” produced: mokotoff (429), makot (2), makotow (3), mikotaja (1), mikotajewicz (1), mikotajewski (1), mikotshinski (2), mokot (2), mokotiw (1), mokoton (2), mokotov (2), Mokotovicz (2), mokotovsky (1), mokotow (23), mokotower (1), mokotowicz (3), mokotowie (1), mokotowska (2), mokotowski (4), mokotîw (1), mokotów (2), mąkotów (1). Most are almost certainly records of the Mokotow family—all Mokotows in the world are descended from my great-great-great-grandfather.

Use this powerful JewishGen feature to uncover records of your families.

New Book: Road to Victory: Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division
One aspect of the Holocaust about which there are too few books written is the participation of Jews in Eastern Europe as partisans or members of regular armies that fought the Germans. Such a book is Road to Victory: Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division. The book contains first-person accounts of the participation of Lithuanian Jews who fought in the 16th Lithuanian Division of the Red Army. Through their accounts they represent the large corps of 4,500 Jewish fighters—men and women alike—who took arms in the battlefields of World War II in order to destroy the enemy as well as to liberate the remnants of Lithuanian Jewry—the survivors of the Shoah. A good number of stories are written by or about women who fought in the war. Professor Dov Levin, who was a partisan and is possibly the world authority on the history of the Jews of Lithuania, wrote the first article in the book.

In addition to the personal accounts, there is a yizkor (memorial) section listing 1,215 soldiers who died, giving name, father’s given name, year of birth, rank, date and place of death. There is an index of persons mentioned in the other sections of the book. All told some 2,500 people are identified.

The book was originally compiled in Yiddish and then translated into Hebrew. Dorothy Leivers, author of The Jews of Kopcheve (Lithuania), which is also published by Avotaynu, has organized and edited this English language translation. The cover is a replica of the Hebrew version of the book with text adapted in English. The quality of the illustrations is not the best. The original photographs and artwork were destroyed in a fire after publication of the Hebrew edition. Consequently, the only way to include the illustrations was to scan the Hebrew edition.

This is a readable history, rich in details both for historians and genealogists.

Order the Road to Victory at At that site are two sample articles from the book. The book is 376 pages and softcover. The cost is $29.00 plus shipping.

Preliminary Conference Program Now Online
A preliminary program for the 29th Annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is now online at The conference is being held in Philadelphia from August 2–7, 2009.
A few of the new features reported by Mark Halpern, Program Co-chair are:
    • Beginners’ Track of programs on Sunday
Repository Fair: local archives, libraries and other institutions will answer your questions
Attendance by the Director General of the National Archives of Romania as well as Archive officials from Ukraine and Vienna
Opening Session on Sunday with Father Patrick Desbois as the keynote speaker. There will be the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of "The Holocaust by Bullets"
Lectures on state-of-the-art genealogy tools including Google and Facebook
Programs and a workshop on Jewish cooking

ViewMate Returns to JewishGen
One of the valuable features of JewishGen is ViewMate. It is the tool that permits uploading images such as photos, letters, tombstone images or documents in any language and get volunteers to translate or comment on the images. The function has not been available for a number of months due to technical difficulties, but the problem has now been resolved. Information about the service including instructions on how to upload images can be found at

Tracing Your Roots Interview Program
There is an excellent Washington-based television interview program called Tracing Your Roots that is hosted by Arlene Sachs and Avotaynu co-owner Sallyann Amdur Sack. The duo has hosted the show for the past nine years. DNA and its impact on family history research has been the topic of a number of recent programs. Among them are:
Greg Lennon, a PhD geneticist who worked on the NIH genome project explained the value of DNA testing for medical projections.
Matthew E. Kaplan of the Human Origins Genotyping Laboratory at the University of Arizona, spoke about different ways DNA is used. Included were National Geographic and IBM's Genographic Project, genealogical testing by Family Tree DNA, the DNA Shoah Project, and conservation genetics.
Sydney Mandelbaum, project co-founder; Matthew E. Kaplan, research coordinator; and Janette Friedman, board member talked about the DNA Shoah Project. They are building a database of genetic material from Holocaust survivors and their immediate descendants in hopes of reuniting families disrupted by the Holocaust.
"Using DNA to Find Family" was the topic of another show with Arline Sachs and Richard DiBuono.

All are accessible at The site lists other topics.

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU is in the mail. If your subscription expired with the Winter issue, a special yellow renewal sheet was included with the mailing. There is a discount offer for renewal that expires by April 10. Be sure to renew by that date. If you are not already a subscriber, you can order the publication at

Contributions to IIJG
If you have not made a donation to the efforts of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy as suggested by Avotaynu co-owner Sallyann Amdur Sack in the last issue of Nu? What’s New? the time to do it is now. IIJG has received a matching grant proposal from a person interested in Jewish genealogy and Sallyann indicated the number of people who contribute is as important as the amount of money collected. So, even as a token gesture, contribute $10 or $18 to the Institute. Contributions are being collected through PayPal at If you already have a PayPal account, donating can be accomplished in just a few clicks. Otherwise, PayPal does accept credit cards. If you do not like to use the Internet for money transactions, send a check to Friends of International Institute for Jewish Genealogy; 155 N Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621.

Los Angeles Address Directories
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? stated that has a large number of city directories from the late 1930s and early 1940s, but not for certain major cities. A reader has noted that selected Los Angeles city directories and address directories from 1915–1987 are accessible at The search engine will indicate which of the directories has the surname requested.

Massive Collection of WWI Documents Discovered
A British historian has discovered a collection of an estimated 20 million records of World War I casualties in the basement of the International Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. The records deal with the capture, death, or burial of servicemen from over 30 nations drawn into the conflict; personal effects, home addresses and grave sites. All were passed to the International Red Cross by the combatants. Volunteers logged in the information by hand before sending it on to the soldiers' home countries. The Red Cross hopes to have the archive online by 2014, 100 years after the start of World War I. Additional information can be found at

It’s Not Genealogy, But...
Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that it is now possible to send e-mail after you die. Why? It could be the Internet-era way of passing on important information to others in the case of your untimely death. Rather than prepare a document for your heirs that identifies all your assets, user names and passwords to critical information, and a final “goodbye” message, you can accumulate all this data in an e-mail and submit it to Death Switch determines when to send out the message by transmitting e-mail to you on a regular basis. If you fail to respond to a certain number of messages in a row, they assume you have died, and the e-mails you prepared are sent out.

Other potential uses are (1) getting the last word in a argument with a friend, (2) suggesting funeral instructions, (3) revealing a secret you have kept throughout the years.

It appears that in this Age of the Internet, someone's dying words may be “Read my e-mail.”

Nu? What's New is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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