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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 10, Number 15 | July 26, 2009

This edition is going to 8,466 subscribers

Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
Lionel Sharpe Receives Medal of the Order of Australia
Lionel Sharpe of Caulfield, Victoria, has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) by the Australian government for his service to the community, particularly through social welfare and Jewish organizations. For more than 45 years Sharpe has been involved in numerous organizations; he has worked with Jewish immigrants moving to Australia and helped set up programs for the disadvantaged. He has also lectured and co-ordinated courses in social issues at universities and was one of the 37 genealogists who went to the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen, Germany, in May 2008. It was the first group to visit ITS after its doors were open to the public in November 2007.

One other Australian Jewish genealogist has received the OAM honor. Sophie Caplan, founding president of the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society, received the award in 2000. A more detailed article about Sharpe’s award can be found at

New Version of the Canadian Naturalization 1915–1932 Database
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has announced a new version of the Canadian Naturalization 1915–1932 online database. It now includes an index to the names of 206,731 individuals who applied for and received status as naturalized Canadians from 1915 to 1932. The project was carried out by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal volunteers, initially making available a finding aid to the 2000+ pages of naturalization index pages and now the full name index. The vast bulk of the data entry was carried out by society member Ruth Diamond, with Alan Greenberg managing the project and handling the image processing and database creation. Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa funded the original digitization of the images. The database is available at:

The Montreal Society is now leading a new project to create indices to the 1932–1951 Canadian Naturalizations. All 4,000 pages have been scanned and will be available shortly online as a first step to data entry. Due to the different nature of the published lists, a finding aid is not possible, and data entry of the approximately 400,000 names will be required to make the data readily searchable. This new project was partially funded by the IAJGS Malcolm Stern Grant.

New Functions at
Stephen P. Morse reports two new functions at his One-Step site,

Morse has had for some time an Assembly District/Election District (AD/ED) finder for the New York State censuses of 1905, 1915 and 1925 for all boroughs of New York City. Given a street address in New York City, the function determines the correct AD/ED. The researcher then uses this result to locate the census record available on microfilm at various repositories. FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Mormon Church, has now placed at its site images of the 1905 census for the borough of Brooklyn without a name index. Morse has update his AD/ED finder that links the results of the search directly to the census images located at FamilySearch.

The second function is an Ahnentafel calculator that converts an Ahnentafel number into prose that describes the relationship between the individual and the person whose pedigree is being defined. For example, on a pedigree chart, the person with an Ahnentafel number of 123 is the mother's mother's mother's father's mother's mother of the person whose pedigree is being defined. A description of this numbering system can be found at

JOWBR Now Has 1.2 Million Records
The JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) has been updated for the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. Added are more than 94,000 new records and approximately 12,000 new photos from 16 countries. This brings JOWBR's holdings to more than 1.2 million records from more than 2,400 cemeteries (or cemetery sections) from 46 countries.

Some of the collections added in the recent update are:
   • U.S. National Cemetery Records. More than 23,000 records from 150 national cemeteries located in 46 states and Puerto Rico. These records represent veterans whose markers have a Star of David on it.
   • Iasi, Romania. 17,500 additional burial records translated from the Hebrew burial register from 1888–1894 and women's records from 1915–1943.
   • Bathurst, Toronto, Ontario. 9,000 additional records from 60 sections of this Canadian cemetery.
   • Krakow, Poland. 6,300 records from the Miodowa Street Cemetery in Krakow.
   • Vitsyebsk, Belarus. 5,600 cemetery records
Bayside, NY. 5,600 additional records from the Bayside/Ozone cemetery complex
   • Chernivtsi, Ukraine. 4,300 additional records and photos

The database is searchable at A list of cemeteries included in the collection can be found at

Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won’t Go Away
Mormon Leaders Present President Obama with HIs Familiy History
The Mormon Church practice of posthumously baptizing Jews murdered in the Holocaust made the news media again when Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, presented U.S. President Barack Obama with five leather-bound books detailing Obama's family history for several generations. What was not mentioned at the meeting was the fact that the Church had posthumously baptized Obama’s mother as well as other ancestors of the U.S. president.

In response to the revelation by the news media of the baptism, a Church spokesperson gave the standard Church response, "It is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related." Not mentioned by the spokesperson was that it is part of Church doctrine that their mission is the salvation of the entire human race both living and dead. Another statement presented by the Church to justify the practice is that it is not a forced baptism. “The person can always turn it down,” is the usual comment. But the Church never states that is the Mormon belief that anyone who turns it down cannot live in the presence of God.

So baptism of non-relatives goes on unabated contrary to Church policy but in conformity with Church doctrine.

Meanwhile the posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims continues unabated. Baptisms as recently as July 2009 have been discovered contrary to Church policy but in conformity with Church doctrine. A report of the meeting of the Presidents can be read at

New Avotaynu Books Available for Sale at Philadelphia Conference
New books Avotaynu has published since the 2008 conference will be available for sale at the Philadelphia conference. The 29th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel from August 2. New books include:
   • Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names. Already an active seller since it was announced two weeks ago. It is an index and description of more than 15,000 Ashkenazic given names with a description of the origin and evolution of the 735 root names from which they are derived. The index includes names in the Latin, Cyrillic and Hebrew alphabets.
   • Sephardic Genealogy: Second Edition. Author Jeff Malka has made a significant update that revises every chapter and adds additional chapters. The Internet chapter identifies more than 300 sites with information of value to Sephardic research.
   • Road to Victory. First-person accounts—both men and women—of the participation of Lithuanian Jews in the Russian Army during World War II.
   • Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn. A photograph essay of more than 90 former synagogues in Brooklyn and how they are being used today.
   • Google Your Family Tree. This book is not published by Avotaynu but is sold by us because of its great popularity within the genealogical community. Avotaynu, alone, has sold more than 500 copies. It is the only guide to Google using examples from genealogical research. It has relevance for any use of Google.
  • Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition. The book debuted at last year’s conference. It is a major update to Dr. Beider’s epic work providing information about 74,000 surnames.

Also we will have copies of the new version of AVOTAYNU on CD-ROM which contains all back issues of AVOTAYNU 1985–2008. 93 issues, 5,700 pages, 4 million words—searchable with a full word search engine.

Additional information about the conference can be found at

Third Edition of Polish Translation Guide Published
Judith Frazin has expanded and enhanced her A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents (including Birth, Marriage and Death Records) in a third edition. In addition to being a translation guide, it also helps the reader locate Polish ancestral towns on a modern map, determine if old vital records exist, learn how to acquire them and—through its unique step-by-step method—decipher and translate the records. The book is published by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois of which Frazin is a former president.

Avotaynu sells a book competitive with the Frazin worked titled In Their Words: A Genealogists Translation Guide — Polish by Polish-American genealogists, Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman. These authors have also published an equivalent guide for records written in Russian. I have never evaluated how the Frazin and Shea/Hoffman books compare, but the two are comparable in size and price. The Frazin book is 473 pages and costs $41.00 including shipping. The Shea/Hoffman book is 388 pages and costs $35.00 plus shipping.

Persons attending the Philadelphia conference will have the opportunity to compare the books as the Frazin book will make its debut there. The Shea/Hoffman book will be sold by Avotaynu in the exhibit area. Additional information about the Frazin book can be found at Information about the Shea/Hoffman book can be found at Information about the Russian version is at

Jewish Genealogical Research Trip to Salt Lake City
For those who want an additional dose of genealogical research in addition to, or instead of, the annual conference, veteran Jewish genealogists Gary Mokotoff and Eileen Polakoff will be offering a research trip to the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City from October 22-October 29, 2009, for the 17th consecutive year. To date, more than 400 Jewish genealogists from the U.S., Canada, South America, Israel, Australia and Europe have taken advantage of this program.

The program offers genealogists the opportunity to spend an entire week of research at the Library under the guidance and assistance of professional genealogists who have made more than a three dozen trips to Salt Lake City. Additional information can be found at Included is a picture of the Class of 2008.

Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants Price Correction
The price for Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants was erroneously announced as $26.00. The correct price is $29.00. The lower price was honored for those persons who have already ordered the book. Information about the book can be found at

My Two Cents
I think genealogy is the most exciting hobby in existence today. Well, maybe sky diving is more exciting, but genealogy is the only hobby that deals with people’s lives. What could be more exciting then learning how people lived, especially if their lives were unusual. We dutifully record all the members of our clan but pursue additional information about the exceptional members of our family, both good and bad. Whether the relative was a thief, a miner in the California gold fields or a war hero, we want to know more about those individuals.

What triggered this thought were three independent events that happened to me this past week.

First, a grandniece of my wife contacted me by e-mail wanting to know more about her ancestry. How excited she was to learn that her maiden name should not have been Auerbach but Urbach. Her great-great-grandfather changed it when he came to the U.S. even though all his brothers kept the Urbach name. She was fascinated to learn that many Jewish immigrants to the U.S. changed their names to a more American name and that her great-grandfather, Joseph Auerbach, was born Chaskel Urbach in Poland. I sent her his birth record gotten from the Bialystok Civil Registration Office. I also told her that one of the brothers was a Holocaust victim whose wife and son left Europe after the war for Colombia and that I had met the son, Jose Urbach, who lives in New York City.

Second. I helped a man find family, and in gratitude, he made a contribution to JewishGen. What is his story? He was born to an unmarried Jewish woman and placed in a Jewish orphanage. The authorities discovered that the birth father was half black (light enough to pass for white), so they declared him “Negro” and sent him to an African-American orphanage (this was the late 1930s). He subsequently was adopted by an African-American family. I did not do much more than send him images of census records that included his birth parents found on, but he was excited because it validated stories he was told about his birth family.

Third. Many readers know the story of Evelyne Haendel, the Hidden Child who I helped find family. Her parents were murdered at Auschwitz, and she spent much of her entire life without family; no parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. What very few readers know is that Evelyne is paying back for the assistance she received. She is now helping other Hidden Children find family and also reuniting the descendants of Hidden Children with the descendants of the Christian families that saved them. Just this week, she had another success story, locating cousins in the United States for a Belgian Hidden Child. What can be a more remarkable story than that of a person who lived much of his/her life without family and then, in their 60s or 70s suddenly connecting with family, never knowing that they even existed.

Three interesting stories about people’s lives, and all in just one week.

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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