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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 26 | January 1, 2011

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.
Happy New Year!

This Is the Last Issue...
...of Nu? What’s New? you will receive if you have not registered as a paid subscriber.

As noted in the last issue, producing Nu? What’s New? is taking more and more of my time—now about five hours per edition. It is time consuming to read the numerous sources; to research and write each selected item; and finally to format the entire issue. There is now enough information to produce this e-zine weekly rather than biweekly. Because of the extra costs, starting with the next issue, Nu? What’s New? will be by paid subscription—$12.00 for an entire year. That’s just $1.00 per month. Subscribing is easy through PayPal using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) or PayPal account. If you do not have a PayPal account, you can pay by credit card through PayPal by clicking “Pay with debit or credit card.” You will be subscribed at the e-mail address given when making the payment (so make sure it is typed accurately). If you have a PayPal account, you will be subscribed at the e-mail address of your account. Subscribe now at

Historical Jewish Press Website
The Historical Jewish Press website of the National Library and Tel-Aviv University contains digitized images of 20 Jewish newspapers mostly published in Israel and Eretz Israel. Other countries include Austria, Egypt, France, Hungary, Morocco, Poland, Prussia and czarist Russia. A list of newspapers is located at

I found locating the search engine difficult. From the home page at, clicking “All Titles” merely provided a list of newspapers but no search engine. “Search by Language” led to search pages.

Hebrew-language newspapers must be searched using the Hebrew alphabet. If your keyboard does not support Hebrew, use the Stephen P. Morse site at to convert the characters.

Latvian Newspaper Website
The Latvian National Digital Library has digitized 40 newspaper and magazine titles from the years 1895–1957 at There is a full-word search engine. It is unnecessary to use diacritic marks when searching the publications.
Due to copyright restrictions, those items published after July 1, 1938 are not accessible on the Internet. They can only be accessed in Latvia at the National Library of Latvia, the Academic Library of Latvia and all public libraries in Latvia via workstations connected to the library’s internal network. A list of newspapers digitized is available at the site.

Hint: Search Newspaper Archives for Ancestral Towns
Many of the online newspaper collections made available through genealogical services index primarily American newspapers. But these newspapers invariably contain information about world events. Therefore search them for ancestral towns in Europe and other regions.

If the search engine has a surname field, place a town name in this field. As an example, searching for “Grojec,” a town in Poland, at, produced 42 results. A headline in the July 21, 1915, Kansas City Star stated “Slavs Lose Many Towns: Radom, Ostrolenka, Blonie and Grojec Fall to Germans. Great Teutonic Offensive.” The March 11, 1943, issue of the Dallas Morning News stated, “Germans Continue Executions in Poland.”

Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy: 2011 Edition
Avotaynu has just published the 2011 Edition of its book Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy. As noted when the 2010 Edition was published, we intend to update this book every year, because advances in genealogical research occur so frequently.

The major improvement from the 2010 edition is the addition of information about using DNA testing for family history research and a section on the Association of Professional Genealogists. Two more pages have been added to the “Illustrations” section, (1) a sample page from the JewishGen Discussion Group and (2) a Page of Testimony. The new edition is four pages larger than the 2010 version. There is also some rewriting in other sections of the text.

A number of genealogical societies provide Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy as handouts at beginners’ workshops or to new members. Avotaynu offers the book at a 50% discount to societies who order 20 or more copies.

Additional information, including the Table of Contents, can be found at,.htm.

Recent Additions to FamilySearch Database
In the past week, some of the records added to include (images and/or indexes):
   • Canada, New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815-1938
   • U.S., Connecticut—WWII Draft Registration Cards, 1942
   • U.S., District of Columbia—Deaths, 1874–1959
   • U.S., Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959
   • U.S., Minnesota Will Records, 1849-1985
   • U.S., Ohio, Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Probate Files, 1813-1900
   • U.S., Tennessee, Death Records, 1914-1955
   • U.S., Texas—Birth Records, 1903–1934
   • U.S., Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837-1977
   • U.S., Wisconsin, Probate Estate Case Files, 1861-1933

NARA Has New Search Engine
The U.S. National Archives is in the process of replacing its current Archival Research Catalog (ARC) with a new Online Public Access (OPA) search engine. The new system includes access to NARA’s Electronic Records Archives, a collection of electronic government records which do not exist in paper form.

Simple searches using the two systems produce the same results except for any additional holdings available through OPA. OPA is a bit more sophisticated in that it does not display duplicate results. For example, searching for “Mokotoff” using the older ARC displays five results. OPA displays only three results noting that there are actually five results. The two results not displayed provide duplicate information about an article I published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. The Advanced Search of OPA has many more options to further refine the scope of a search.

Try the two search systems. ARC is on the NARA home page at OPA is at Information about the Electronic Records Archives can be found at

Do You Have Information about Lost Synagogues in Bronx, Manhattan and Queens?
Ellen Levitt, author of the Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn, is planning books on the other boroughs of New York City. These books will be picture essays about former synagogues, many of which are now churches. She anticipates that a book about the lost synagogues of Bronx and Queens—a single book—will be available this spring/summer. Another book about those of Manhattan will be in print in summer/fall. Both will be published by Avotaynu.

If you are familiar with ex-synagogues in the Bronx, Manhattan or Queens, please write to her in care of Avotaynu identifying the name of the synagogue and exactly where it was located. Write to This is a second request for information. If you responded to the first request, there is no need to reply again.

The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn describes 91 former synagogues and includes photographs of how they appear today. Many are now churches. Additional information can be found at

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.
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