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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 11 | June 13, 2010

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.
Library and Archives Canada Digitizing Microform Holdings
Library and Archives Canada is in the process of digitizing their microform collection. They have completed three projects to date:
    • Form 30, Border Entry Records, 1919–1924
    • School Files Series – 1879–1953 (RG10)
    • Form 30A, Ocean Arrivals, 1919–1924
They can be found at The online collection is images only, but each record group itself is in alphabetical order.

It would be a useful finding aid if some group indexed the starting and ending names of each of the digitized reels. For example, reel #1 of the Ocean Arrivals runs from Shjarre Aagard to Joshua Adams. It took me ten minutes to locate the reel in the Ocean Arrivals group that should have Mokotoffs listed and found to my horror that the records jump from Wilhemina Moir to Abram Molnacky! Offering Free Access During World Cup Period
Who would have thought that the World Cup would benefit genealogists? is offering free access to their enormous database of British records during every England World Cup match. All you need to do is register. Thirty minutes before kick-off they will stop charging for three hours. There are only two more games left for England in the posted schedule located at June 18 at 20:30 (South African time, which is 2:30pm New York time) and June 23 at 16:00 (10:00 am, New York time). Additional information about the offer is available at

IAJGS Conference Program Runs Until Midnight
With Breakfast with the Experts now a regular part of the annual program of the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, this year’s planners had to come up with something new. Their solution is “Midnight with the Mavens.” Twenty-four mavens (experts) in Jewish family history research have volunteered to let you pick their brains in three late evening sessions Monday-Wednesday. The program will be from 10:45-midnight and includes wine, cheese and snacks. Cost is $18 per person and the number of people that can sign up will be limited.

The 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is being held at the newly built JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE from July 11–16, 2010. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles is the host. The conference features more than 300 programs, films, workshops and gatherings with more than 200 lecturers from all over the world. Register at

JOWBR Grows to 1.4 Million Records
In its semi-annual report, the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) has reported they grew by 108,000 records and nearly 13,000 new photos of tombstones. JOWBR’s holdings now exceed 1.4 million records from approximately 2,700 cemeteries in 46 countries. Volunteers from all over the world are documenting graves in Jewish cemeteries and often photographing the tombstones. The results can be found at Persons who want to participate in the program should read the “Submitting Data” instructions at

Museum of Family History Adds Photos of Synagogues
The Museum of Family History has added photos of 80 synagogues from the collection of Tomasz Wisniewski to its "Synagogues of Europe: Past and Present" collection. There are now 563 photos from 22 countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine. They can be viewed at

Now Available: Jews of the Kaišiadorys Region of Lithuania
As noted in the last issue of Nu? What’s New?, Avotaynu has published its 60th book, Jews of the Kaišiadorys Region of Lithuania by Rolandas Gustaitis, and it is now available for sale.

For more than three-and-a-half centuries Jews flourished in the Kaišiadorys region of Lithuania—the area between Lithuania’s two largest cities, Kaunas and Vilnius. It all came to an abrupt end during the Holocaust when the German SS Einsatzgruppen killing squads and their Lithuanian collaborators murdered most of the Jewish population and plundered their belongings.
The book tells the history of the Jews of the region from its earliest days, with particular emphasis on the early 20th century and Holocaust periods. The history is enriched by the naming of people—not just events. The index lists more than 400 people, mostly Jews. More than 200 pictures show the life of the Jewish people of the region as it existed before the Holocaust. The author, a Lithuanian historian, cites his sources in nearly 1,300 footnotes.
The book includes the towns of Darsūniškis, Kaišiadorys, Kruonis, Rumšiškės, Žasliai, Žiežmariai and, to a lesser extent, Gegužinė, Mūro Strėvininkai, Šilonys, Tartokas and Zūbiškės.

The cost of the book is $45.00 plus shipping. Ordering information as well as the Table of Contents can be found at

Afterthought: Jews of the Kaišiadorys Region of Lithuania
One of the fringe benefits of being the publisher of Avotaynu books is that I have to read all of these books. They have provided me with an enormous amount of knowledge.

I learned something from the Kaišiadorys book. In Lithuanian, a surname is spelled four different ways. For example, the surname Similis: (1) is written Similiate for an unmarried woman, (2) is written Similienė for a married woman; Simelis for a man, and Simeliai for a husband and wife.

The translator of the book, Dr. Leonas Bekeris, a Lithuanian American, must have had genealogists in mind when he undertook the translation. He could have translated the Lithuanian to say:
The bakeries belonged to Jews: Clara Becker, Efroim Kirkliausk, Sora Muller, Josel Berzak, Base Kantor and Hinda Abrahamovich.

Instead he translated it as:
The bakeries belonged to Jews: Clara, wife of Becker; Efroim Kirkliausk; Sora, wife of Muller; Josel Berzak; Base, daughter of Kantor; and Hinda, wife of Abrahamovich.

So genealogists reading the book will be able to determine whether a woman’s surname was her married or unmarried name.

New Book on Extant Lithuanian Synagogues
Hebrew University has recently published the first of two volumes about extant synagogues in Lithuania. It identifies 96 buildings in 59 cities and towns. Before World War II there were about 1,000 Jewish prayer houses in Lithuania.

Each entry includes a short overview of the history of the Jewish community in the town where a synagogue is preserved, comprehensive information about the vanished synagogues in that town and a detailed description of the extant synagogue building or buildings. The entries are illustrated with a total of 501 archival historical photographs and architectural designs of the synagogues, and recent documentation of the extant buildings with measured architectural drawings.

The first volume, which costs $49 plus postage, includes the following towns: Alanta, Alsedžiai, Alytus, Anykščiai, Balbieriškis, Biržai, Čekiške, Daugai, Eišiškes, Jonava, Joniškelis, Joniškis, Kaltinenai, Kalvarija, Kaunas, Kedainiai, Klaipeda, Krekenava, Kupiškis, Kurkliai, Laukuva, Lazdijai, Linkuva, Lygumai, Marijampole, Merkine.
The second volume is due for publication at the end of 2010 and will include Pakruojis, Panevėžys, Pasvalys, Plungė, Prienai, Pušalotas, Raguva, Ramygala, Rietavas, Rozalimas, Salantai, Seda, Šeta, Šiauliai, Šilalė, Simnas, Širvintos, Skaudvilė, Švėkšna, Telšiai, Tirkšliai, Troškūnai, Ukmergė, Utena, Vabalninkas, Veisiejai, Vilnius, Vištytis, Žagarė, Zarasai, Žasliai, Žemaičių Naumiestis, Žiežmariai.

Ordering information can be found at

Avotaynu Catalog
Our 2010 catalog will be mailed shortly. It describes all the books, maps, CDs and videos we make available for purchase. You can request a copy of the catalog at In the comment box, specifically ask for the catalog.

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