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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 10, Number 14 | July 19, 2009

This edition is going to 8,291 subscribers

Most of the information presented here is about new Avotaynu products.

New Book: Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants
Those Nu? What New? readers who are Beiderphiles know that the most important part of Alexander Beider’s name dictionaries is not the dictionary portion of each book but the introductory portion which is a scholarly dissertation on the book’s subject. It was the introductory portion of his first book, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, that established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on the origin and evolution of Jewish surnames in Eastern Europe. The 300-page introductory portion of his Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names (DAGN) actually is his doctoral thesis that was accepted by the Department of History at the Sorbonne in Paris.

At the suggestion of AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Sack-Pikus, and her genealogy associate, Harold Rhode, Dr. Beider has created a new book, Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants which is that portion of the larger Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation, and Migrations
which focuses on the needs of genealogists. Missing from the smaller work is the doctoral thesis and the portion of the Dictionary that cites sources for all the variant names. Included in the Handbook is the description of the origin and evolution of the name, a tree-like structure of all the name variants which shows how they were derived from the root name, and the all-important indexes which list all 15,000 names derived from the 735 root names. The index is in three sections: names as they appeared in the Latin alphabet, names in the Cyrillic alphabet and those in the Hebrew alphabet.

I used DAGN shortly after it was published to research my mother’s Hebrew name: Tsiril. I was surprised to find out that it is a variant of Sarah. The Derivation Scheme for Sarah in DAGN showed the evolution of the name from Sarah, to Tsore to Tserl(e) to Tsirl(e). All told, Dr. Beider identifies nearly 100 variants of the popular feminine given name, Sarah.

Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants is 232 pages, softcover and costs only $26.00 plus shippng. It can be ordered at As an illustration of the content of the book, the complete citation of the feminine name, Sarah, is shown, including a description of its origin and derived names. Also shown at the site is a complete list of the 15,000 names.

The Avotaynu web site also includes information and examples from Dr. Beider’s other works: A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia and A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names. This book will be available at the Philadelphia conference. Internet and phone orders will be processed after the conference.

New Book: Sephardic Genealogy–Second Edition
Jeffrey S. Malka, author of the award-winning Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World, has completely updated and improved the book in a newly published Second Edition. Nearly 100 pages longer, this new edition revises all the chapters to include new information and updates all Internet and mail addresses. It adds a new chapter on DNA as well as new chapters on the available resources for the Sephardic communities of Portugal, England, Rhodes, Hamburg-Altona, and Vienna. There is also a new chapter on how to research the Spanish archives with clues on deciphering old Spanish script.

The section on the Internet is fully updated and now includes more than 300 links to sites that have information valuable to Sephardic research. The book even reveals how to access past web sites that are no longer available on the web. With its comprehensive indexes—the surname index alone has 3,037 names—bibliography, and data-packed appendixes, this is the essential book on Sephardic genealogy and should be part of any Jewish genealogy bookshelf.

The first edition won the “Best Judaica Reference Book” given by the Association of Jewish Libraries in 2002.

The book is 472 pages with hard cover. Despite the increase in size, the price of the Second Edition is identical to the original edition: $45.00 plus shipping. Order the book at A complete Table of Contents is located at the site. This book will be available at the Philadelphia conference. Internet and phone orders will be processed after the conference.

Last Chance to Consider Attending Conference
The 29th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is only two weeks away. From August 2–7, upwards of 1,000 Jewish genealogists from all over the world will meet at the Sheraton City Center Hotel in downtown Philadelphia to select from the more than 100 lectures being offered, participate in computer workshops, have “Breakfast with Experts,” attend meeting and luncheons of the Jewish genealogical Special Interest Groups, participate in local tours, and network with the other attendees. A vendor exhibit hall will include a number of companies selling their products. (Avotaynu is a major exhibitor. We will be selling our books, maps and CDs.)

If you live within 150 miles of Philadelphia and have never attended an IAJGS conference, consider—at a minimum—a day trip. Complete information about he conference can be found at

Avotaynu Presence at Annual Conference
 If you plan to purchase books from Avotaynu at the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and do not live in the U.S., please e-mail us at so we can reserve copies of the books for you. We sometimes run out of stock at the conference because of the large number of people purchasing books there. There are also some books of which we only bring sample copies. We would then have to charge you shipping costs, and there would be a delay in receiving the books.

We will be selling more than 50 books, numerous map collections and some CDs and videos in the vendor area. There is free shipping within the United States on orders of $50 or more. A summary of what Avotaynu has available can be found at

Need Volunteers to Translate Yizkor Book Information
Lance Ackerfeld, recently appointed JewishGen’s Yizkor Book Project Manager, is looking for volunteers to translate from Hebrew to English lists of necrologies found in yizkor books. Yad Vashem has supplied these lists as Excel files. According to Ackerfeld, these lists have a great deal of important information including names of parents, spouses, location in the war and more. To volunteer for the translation project, contact Ackerfeld at

Deadline for AVOTAYNU on CDROM Looms
Tuesday, July 21, 2008, is the deadline for special offers by Avotaynu for its recently released AVOTAYNU on CDROM: 1985–2008. Owners of a previous version of the CD, can purchase an upgrade for $29.95 plus shipping. On July 22, the cost will be $39.95. New users of the CD, can purchase it for $99.95 but, as an introductory offer, they will receive a one-year subscription to AVOTAYNU at no additional charge.

The CD contains articles that have appeared in AVOTAYNU from its inception in 1985 through 2008: 93 issues, some 5,700 pages, 4 million words. It is available for Windows only, now including Vista. Using a searching tool, which includes full-word indexing, every word of every back issue of AVOTAYNU is accessible. If in all the articles there is only one mention of a town or a surname, the search engine will find it. By specifying key words or combinations of key words, the CD-ROM version will locate the article that meets the criteria of the keywords search.

Ordering information can be found at

Join the Global Effort to Recover the Names of Shoah Victims
Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact

 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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