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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 18 | October 3, 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.
If you find the print too small to read, this edition can be viewed at

ITS Introduces Fee Schedule, Education Program
The International Tracing Services (ITS) will now charge for making copies of documents. This applies to non-humanitarian inquiries only. Genealogists’ inquires about family members, no matter how remote, will be considered humanitarian. The cost is 0.30 eurocents per copy, 5.00 euros if the copied material is placed on some medium such as a CD, plus shipping and handling. In reality, it is a token amount meant to cover costs. There still will be no charge for research time. Additional information can be found at

ITS also announced a program to assist educational institutions and groups who want to make their audience aware of the ITS holdings. Materials will be prepared for different school classes, as well as for extracurricular training. ITS also wants to offer courses and materials for special professional groups like police officers, soldiers or legal practitioners. Additional information can be found at

Does Your Ancestral Town Have a Shtetl/KahaLinks Page?
A valuable resource for Jewish genealogical research are the hundreds of websites on JewishGen devoted to specific ancestral towns. Called ShtetLinks or KahaLinks, they provide valuable information about the Jewish presence in the town and/or links to other sites that have useful information. Martin Davis of London has just added a very attractive one for Kamyanets-Podilskyy (Kamenets-Podolsk), a major city in Ukraine.

A complete list of towns, organized by country, can be found at If your town is not listed, consider developing a site yourself. JewishGen will provide assistance if you can provide the text but do not have the skills to develop a website. For additional help, write the site’s coordinator at

Guide, WOWW and CD-ROM Available at Significant Discounts
With Chanukah just around the corner (December 2) and people starting to have visions of dreidels dancing in their heads, Avotaynu is having a major sale of three of its most popular products at significant discounts. Until October 31, 2010, you can purchase any of the following products for only $55.00:
    • Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy, normally $85.00
    • Where Once We Walked, normally $85.00
    • AVOTAYNU on CD-ROM, normally $99.95
Furthermore, purchase any two of the above for only $99, or all three for $145.00. That’s a savings of at least 35% on an individual item, 42% on two items and 47% on all three.
    • 1 item – $55.00
    • 2 items – $99.00
    • 3 items – $145.00

Ordering information is at

 Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy is a 628-page book that is the definitive guide to Jewish genealogical research. Written by more than 60 authors, all experts in their own field, the list of authors is a veritable "Who's Who in Jewish Genealogy." Its more than 100 chapters cover all important aspects of the rich body of information available to do Jewish genealogical research.

 Where Once We Walked is an award-winning, 736-page gazetteer that identifies more than 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. It also includes 17,500 alternate names including Yiddish, pre-Word War I, interwar and post-world War II names. Gives latitude/longitude, Jewish population before the Holocaust and cites as many as 50 books that reference the town.

AVOTAYNU on CD-ROM. During the past 25 years, the journal, AVOTAYNU, has developed a reputation for being a must-read publication for persons doing Jewish genealogical research. The 93 issues published between 1985 and 2008 are available on a single CD-ROM with a full-word search engine. By specifying keywords or combinations of keywords, the search engine will locate all articles that include these words.

Take advantage of these price reductions now at Remember! This offer is good through October 31 only. Please place orders online or by mail.

Summer Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Summer issue of AVOTAYNU is late because of vacations, but it is now at the printer and should be available in the next 30 days. It has many interesting articles.

In 1984, AVOTAYNU editor Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus ran the annual conference held in Jerusalem for the first time. She went begging to Yad Vashem for access to their records by the conference attendees, because genealogy was not considered at that time to be a serious form of research, and Yad Vashem did not want their facilities to be flooded by a group of hobbyists. Now Yad Vashem is coming hat in hand to the genealogical community begging us to help complete the documentation of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Many of us have hundreds of Holocaust victims in our database that are not in the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims Database because of the enormous effort it would take to submit them all. Two articles in the issue of AVOTAYNU provide different solutions to the problem.

The value of DNA testing to family history research is discussed in two articles. One demonstrates the application of FamilyTreeDNA’s new product, “Family Finder,” which can determine how closely two people are related independent of their sex. There is yet another article about the application of DNA testing to research.

One of my definitions of a good article in AVOTAYNU is one about a subject I know thoroughly yet I learn from the article anyway. Such is “Using the Hebrew Calendar to Resolve Discrepancies in Genealogical Data.” The author rigorously discusses—with examples—how people got the secular date of their vital events wrong when they converted the date from the Hebrew calendar to the secular one.

The first article about the 2011 conference in Washington, DC encourages people who will attend to start to consider what resources they will use at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Yet another, “My Trip to My Ancestral Country,” is featured and tells of a trip to Ukraine. These articles are always valuable because show the latest status of the ease of record access and the friendliness of the local population.

All told, there are 16 articles plus the usual columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask the Experts, Book Reviews and From Our Mail Box.

You can read the Table of Contents at If you are not already a subscriber, you can do so by going to

Internet Security
There has been a recent increase in sophisticated attempts to invade computers through illegal e-mail. The consequence of not having a good e-mail malware detector (it goes beyond viruses) is that you open your personal life (bank accounts, investment accounts, online purchasing) to invasion by criminals.

It has gotten so bad that you must distrust virtually any e-mail you receive, especially those that link from the e-mail to an Internet site. Example: We almost all get Facebook mail that someone wants to be our Friend, or a known Friend wants you to join some interest group. Do not click on the link until you confirm it will take you to a valid Facebook address. This can be done by placing your mouse across the link icon. It will display the address you are linking to. If it is not, it is probably malware. I recently let my guard down and automatically clicked on an icon in a LinkedIn message. It took me to a site that would have downloaded a Trojan. Fortunately, my malware detector (Norton 360) caught it. Had it gotten into my system, I understand it attaches itself to my browser and then gathers confidential information anytime I access critical sites like bank accounts.

Another example from recent experience. By now we have all received an urgent message from a friend in London who was robbed of all his money and credit card and needs money to get home. It appears legitimate because the reply address is your friend’s This scam has gotten so sophisticated that I recently received such an e-mail from a friend who was born in Russia whose given name is Alexander and the e-mail was signed “Sasha,” the Russian affectionate name for “Alexander.”

Here is one that may not have happened yet but is sure to come. Suppose a criminal registered a domain name that was very close to your online bank’s name, For example, he registers the domain name “” when “” is the legitimate domain name for Zions Bank in Utah. Suppose this criminal creates his home page to look identical to the Zion Bank home page. If you accidentally typed “,” you would log on and give the criminal your user name and password for access to your bank account. When you click “Enter,” the criminal could produce a response “Invalid user name or password” and direct you to the valid site. You then would think you keyed in your username or password incorrectly and log on to the correct site by rekeying in your information. Meanwhile, the criminal has captured your access information. In the case of my banks, it would not work because the bank asks additional information on subsequent pages known only to me to gain access to my account. But this scheme would work on any site that only asks for user name and password. An example is where you may have left credit card information. The person could order any item at that site and have it shipped to him. (There is a soft safeguard in that you receive by e-mail an acknowledgement from Amazon about any transaction being performed. This includes an attempt to change your e-mail address.) The lesson to be learned is to always double-check the URL you typed. Even better, access sensitive sites only from bookmarks.

To submit Pages of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Additional Names.”

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