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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 2 | January 18, 2010

This edition is going to 8,537 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.
A Potential Risk Using Geni
Social networking through family trees is becoming ever more popular. One such site is There seems to be a flaw in that might exist in other online family tree systems. A person living in Washington State wanted to place his Genie family tree on, so he had Genie create a GEDCOM file which he uploaded to Ancestry. Unbeknownst to him, he also placed my family tree on Genie.

It happened because Genie has a function which allows merging family trees. In fact it is an important function in Genie. If you have incomplete information about a distant part of your family and another Genie member is closely related to that branch, you can merge your trees. The man’s wife’s grandaunt, whose maiden name is Massarsky, married into my wife’s family. Someone in the Massarsky family—not the Washington State person—asked me about a year ago to merge our trees. Subsequently this Washington State person then asked the third party to merge their trees. All three trees were now linked.

When the Washington person requested a GEDCOM file, Geni downloaded the man’s forest (Geni term) which now included all members of my database including all of the Mokotoff, Tartasky, Wlodawer and Cemnick (my four grandparents) families.

He then placed the total database on

Article about Online Family Trees
Apropos to the article above, Family Tree Magazine has published an article identifying all the sites it is aware of that permit storing family trees, including Geni. It can be found at

ITS Finishes Digitization of Post-War Records
The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen has now finished digitizing its documents from the post-war era concerning displaced persons and emigration after the end of World War II. ITS forwarded copies of the documents to its partner organizations in Belgium, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland and the U.S. The documents provide information on the fate of those who were rescued from concentration camps, forced labor and, in some cases, war captivity. This inventory specifically comprises documents from German, Austrian, Italian and British camps for displaced persons, as well as emigration lists, files and dossiers from refugee organizations such as the UNHCR, and lists of Holocaust survivors compiled by Jewish organizations.

Among the documents mainly preserved from the DP camps are 350,000 “CM1” (Care and Maintenance) questionnaires issued by the Allies. On these forms people documented what happened to them during the war and specified reasons for their desire to emigrate. The digitization of the entire inventory of post-war documents took a year and a half.

To date 84.5 million images have been shared with participating institutions. The inventory of the children’s tracing service still needs to be transferred, as well as the so-called general documents and the correspondence files.

Additional information can be found at

Germany Relaxes Access to Civil Registration Records
It was reported on the JewishGen German SIG Discussion Group that the German Standesamt (civil registration offices) have relaxed restrictions on access to post-1875 civil registration birth, marriage and death certificates. Previously laws restricted information to spouses, direct-line ancestors and direct-line descendants. Now exempt from these restrictions are records of births through 1898, marriages through 1928 and deaths through 1978. Additional information indicated that access to information will increase by one year every year. That is, birth records available after 110 years, marriage after 80 years and deaths after 30 years. After these time periods, records will be transferred from the local civil registration office to the local archives. It was also reported that it is now possible to obtain extracts of genealogical information or uncertified photocopies of these documents.

U.S. Premiere of "Who Do You Think You Are?" in March
Americans are keenly aware of the disaster created by a major television network NBC to its late night show lineup. Good news! The beneficiary of this rearranging of programs will be "Who Do You Think You Are?" which will premier on March 5, 2010, at 10 p.m. This program looks inside the family history of celebrities. Among those to be featured will be Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Spike Lee, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields and Emmitt Smith. is NBC's official partner on the series. The program has already been a success in the UK and Australia.

RTR Foundation Now Has Databases (searchable by family name) and Photos
One site I visit regularly is the Routes to Routes Foundation at The site has the most complete inventory of Jewish record holdings in the archives of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. If not identified at the RTRF site, the Jewish vital records (birth/marriage/death/divorce) likely do not exist. The Archive Database also includes inventories of other types of documents including census records and family lists; recruit lists; lists of voters, taxpayers, merchants and school records; Holocaust records (lists of victims and survivors); immigration/migration records; land and property records; name changes; pogrom records; local government records (such as wills, notary records, etc.).

To search for records of a particular town, click on “Archive Database” on the home page and then click on “Archive Documents.” This exposes the search engine. Type the name of the town of interest, and the next screen will display of the types of Jewish and civil records available for that town, which archive has the records, years available and archive file. There are no actual surnames in this search result, but rather an inventory of the surviving documents.

Recently RTRF has added new databases containing information about individuals. These databases are searchable by surname and they include:
  • 1929 List of Jewish taxpayers from Pulawy, Poland (460 names)
  • 1928 List of Jewish taxpayers from Krasnystaw, Poland (560 names)
  • 1936 List of Jewish taxpayers from Turobin, Poland (121 names)
  • 1990 List of burials in Beltsy Jewish Cemetery (Moldova) (4,800 names approx) (about 1/3 of this database is complete at this time).
  • 1858 — List of heads of households in the town of Cherkassy, Ukraine, from the Revisky Skasky/census lists (307 names)
  • 1894 - 1918 Heads of Jewish families that had a status of Meshchanin (petty bourgeois) in Odessa (4,505 names)
  • List of people who died in Belogorodka, Ukraine during the Holocaust (in Word format)

They are accessible on the same results page as a record search. A button at the top of the page links to the database search engine.

RTRF also has a collection of photographs and postcards for selected towns. From the home page click on “Archive Database” and then click on “Photographs and Postcards.” On the following page, search for a town of interest. Images continue to be added regularly.

There is much more to offer at the Routes to Roots Foundation site. From the home page, browse the other pathways.
Beginning in 2005, Logan Kleinwaks has placed digitized and indexed Eastern European directories on his Internet site. This started with ten business and phone directories for Galicia, Poland, Posen and Romania and now has grown to more than 100 databases. He has placed them all on their own site: They include directories from Bulgaria, France, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Galicia, Silesia, Pomerania, Posen, Romania, Carpathian Ruthenia, South America and United Kingdom. A complete list can be found by clicking the word “Directories” at the upper left portion of the home page.

Not all the directories are Kleinwaks’ creation. In many cases, the result of an index search leads to another web site where the digital images are located. Many require the DjVu viewer be installed on your computer.

Also at the site are 64 digitized and indexed yizkor books and lists of Polish military officers.

Wanted: Human Interest Articles for Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU, which will be published in March, is our human interest issue. Many years ago, Sallyann Sack and I wanted to recognize that there is more to genealogy than ancestor hunting. There is the human side of genealogy. The emotional reactions of a genealogist to discoveries in his/her family's history can be both happy and upsetting. There is the pride a researcher feels in successfully breaking down a brick wall. The discovery of long-lost family or linking to the family tree of another genealogist can be exhilarating. Our solution was to reserve a portion of the Winter issue each year to articles about the human side of genealogy. Articles should be submitted to AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Amdur Sack at by February 1.

AVOTAYNU Publishes Jewish Family History Books in Print
----- Also in the Winter issue every year, AVOTAYNU lists Jewish family histories that have been published in the preceding twelve months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported. The format to follow is: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Deadline for inclusion is February 1. Send information to

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail it to the Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, 155 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ 07621. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.

Nu? What's New? is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2010, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To be added or removed from this mailing list, go to the Internet site To change your e-mail address, go to the same site and remove the old address and add the new address.

Back issues of
Nu? What's New? are available at

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 155 N. Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621