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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 16 | April 24, 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 Easter to Our Christian Subscribers

Free Online Genealogy Research Courses
FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Mormon Church, now has 140 online genealogy research courses available at no charge. Some focus on research in specific countries, others focus on basic tools and techniques for anyone just getting started in family history research, as well as courses for intermediate and advanced researchers.

Most courses are 30 minutes in length. FamilySearch notes that some advantages of an online course are that you can fast forward through the presentation or presentation slides or stop and later pick up where you left off.

Last year I listened to the first Russian course, given by Daniel Schlyter, and it was a good overview of the history and geography of Russia. The second course, also given by Schlyter, is about records and resources. The Library is reaching out to the professional genealogy community asking for volunteers to provide additional lectures.

The number of lectures available by category are Australia (3), England (9), Germany (2), Ireland (5), Italy (1), Mexico (3), New Zealand (1), Poland (3), Professional genealogy and accreditation (25), Reading Handwritten Records (32), Research Principles and Tools (18), Russian (2), United States (32). The detailed list can be found at

The Handwritten Records series includes Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Scandinavian Gothic, and Spanish.

FamilySearch also notes that other institutions and organizations have online genealogy courses. A list is available at

An Unusual Genealogy Site
Tamura Jones of Leyden, Netherlands, has created an unusual website where he expresses his views on the genealogy scene. He may develop a reputation as the “Genealogy Grouch” because most of his commentaries are critical of various aspects of genealogy. Based on the few I read, I agree with him. Example: “Genealogy without documentation is mythology.” Some of his comments cause you to think. “Birth and death are the only two vital events. Marriage isn't a vital event. Marriage is a social and legal event.”

Some of his views split hairs. For example, he states that a birth certificate is really a “conception certificate with a birth date on it,” because it includes the name of the child’s father. “A human birth involves the child and its mother. The father need not be present,” he notes.

Jones gives awards for the best and worst genealogy products. My Heritage Family Tree Builder has the dubious distinction of being awarded the Worst Genealogy Product for two years in a row, not so much for the product itself but for what he considers the deceptive practices of the creator, Jones states “the applications continue their evil ways, installing stuff without telling or asking you, tracking your usage of the application and continually trying to trick you into uploading your data.”

There are a number of valuable articles such as:
   • Twelve Ordinary Must-Have Genealogy Software Features
   • Genealogical Adware
   • Illegitimacy Does Not Cause Non-Paternity Event

Browse the site. You will find it interesting and thought provoking. It is located at
Another site located at states it is the social networking site of genealogy. It claims to have more than 25,000 members. Included are groups, user-generated forums, blogs and chat rooms.

It was created by the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, an affiliate of the Continuing Education, University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto. The Institute provides web-based courses for both family historians and professional genealogists. Their website is at

American Jewish Year Book 5672 (1911–12) Online
The American Jewish Year Book 5672 (23 Sep 1911 – 11 Sep 1912) is now online at These yearbooks provide articles about Jewish issues of the times, events of the year, a necrology of prominent Jews, a directory of Jewish organizations including a list of officers, population statistics and other Jewish-oriented information.

Do You Use Contemplating Using
If you use or are contemplating using, two major Jewish genealogical organizations can benefit monetarily if you visit these sites through special portals.

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) is an Amazon Associate. When purchasing something at, go to their site through the portal on the IAJGS website and IAJGS will receive referral income from Amazon. Go to At the bottom of the page is a link to Amazon.

If you plan to subscribe to, do so through JewishGen. At the top right of the JewishGen home page at, click on the message “powered by” It will bring you to the site and JewishGen will get credit for the referral.

Winners of AVOTAYNU Resubscriber Drawing
Persons who resubscribed to AVOTAYNU had the opportunity to be part of a drawing whose prize was any book Avotaynu publishes. The three winners are Marina Barnstijn of Waterloo, Ontario; Diane Ducey of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Philip Sapiro of Liverpool, England.

Quick Reminders
Washington Conference Registration: April 30 is the deadline to receive the early registration discount rate of $275 per person ($175 for a companion). On May 1, the fee goes up to $310 ($210 for a companion). Start the registration process at

AVOTAYNU subscription: The Spring issue of AVOTAYNU is now at the printer. It should be mailed in two to three weeks. The Table of Contents can be viewed at You can subscribe or renew your subscription 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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