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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 41 | October 16, 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.

Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at
More on Using New FamilySearch Locality Catalog
It is very hard to determine what collections FamilySearch has for the city of Warsaw, Poland. Given the problems described in the previous edition of Nu? What’s New?, I tried to search in the new Locality Catalog for “Warszawa.” It doesn’t work. The reason is that Warszawa, in addition to being a city in Poland, is also a province (voivodship) of Poland, and the FamilySearch catalog displays all the towns in Warszawa voivodship for which they have records. As noted in the last issue of Nu? the new Catalog displays only the first 10 towns. Is the case of Warszawa, displaying only 10 towns does not even get you up to the letter “C” in the enormous list of towns in Warszawa province—let alone “W” for Warszawa. The only way to access the holdings is to explicitly search for “Poland, Warszawa, Warszawa.” Goes Into the TV Business has gone into the TV production business. They are going to do a variant of the Who Do You Think You Are? theme but will use everyday people rather than celebrities, and trace their family history to historical events such as Battle of Britain, Jack the Ripper and the Titanic. As described, it seems to be a front to market their genealogy website because they plan to show how the records at make it possible for these ordinary people to trace their family history. The show is screened on Thursdays and will be starting October 20 at 9pm on the Yesterday channel: Freeview channel 12, Sky 537, Virgin Media 203. The announcement can be found at

New Book: The Holocaust in Slovakia: The Story of the Jews of Medzilaborce District
Avotaynu is selling the English-language version of a book published in Slovakia titled The Holocaust in Slovakia: The Story of the Jews of Medzilaborce District. The book is a history of the Holocaust in Slovakia as it impacted the Jews of the Medzilaborce region of that country. Although the work has a regional character, it reaches beyond the boundaries placing what occurred in Medzilaborce as the solution to the “Jewish question” in the entire Slovak Republic.

The chapter headings show the depth of the coverage:
   • The Onset of a Tragedy
   • Aryanization, Liquidation and Further Measures on the Property Issues
   • Exclusion from Public Life
   • Deportation of Jews and The Consequences
   • A Search for Shelter

For those with ancestry in the Medzilaborce District, appendices include population figures for the towns of the region, lists of innkeepers whose licenses were suspended and lists of owners whose businesses were liquidated or “Aryanized.” There are more than 500 people in the name index. There are 26 pages of photographs, mostly of the Jews that lived in the region before and during the Holocaust period.

The book is available now. Cost is $39 plus shipping. Ordering information can be found at

All-Galicia Database Adds Functionality
Gesher Galicia is fortunate to have the technical talents of Brooke Schreier Ganz who developed their All-Galicia Database website at Its search engine has a multitude of features to assist in locating people in the database (See Nu? What’s Nu?, Volume 12 Number 30). Now Ganz has added two more features to the search engine.

The first is to limit searches to records that are within a given number of kilometers from a list of major Galician towns. People will find this useful to exclude results that are not part of the geographic area of interest. The second new feature is the ability to sort search results by different criteria such as by year and record type.

History of Brooklyn Jewry Has Numerous Names
Google books has placed History of Brooklyn Jewry published in 1937 online at The book has a name index but it does not come close to identifying the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people named in the book. There is a full-word search engine at the site. Use it to do search within the book. For those with Brooklyn roots, the history itself may be of value.

IIJG Announces Two New Research Grants
The International institute for Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem has announced two research grants to scholars who responded to its 2011 “Call for Research Proposals.” The grants are awarded to Dr. Louse Hecht of the Kurt and Ursula Schubert Center for Jewish Studies at the Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic; and the other to Prof. Roger Martinez of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Dr. Hecht’s proposal on “Jewish families and the tobacco monopoly in the Habsburg Monarchy” will collect and analyze genealogical data on Jewish tobacco leasers, subcontractors and traders in the Habsburg Monarchy between the mid-18th and mid-19th century. By providing a solid material basis and by being well integrated into society, these Jews secured the upward-mobility of future generations, which in turn produced an impressive number of Jewish intellectuals in various fields. While the fathers traded in tobacco, their offspring busied themselves with the transmission of secular culture.

Prof. Martinez’s research on “Sephardic Origins and Familial Transformations in the Spanish Extremadura region” will utilise under-exploited manuscripts and records in Spanish cathedral and municipal archives to reconstruct and compile the lineages of Sephardic Jews and converso families who filtered into Portugal and across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World during the late 15th through early 16th centuries. Within that, he will investigate the varied survival strategies utilized by these Jews and conversos and also explore the nature of their communal and personal identities during this period of intense stress for Sephardic Jews.

Both proposals fit well with earlier studies sponsored by IIJG—for example, into cultural transfer by Jewish families in early modern Italy and into the lives and lineages of Jews in a provincial town in medieval Spain.

ITS To Allow Copying of Entire Record Groups
It is probably of little value to genealogists, but the International Tracing Service (ITS) plans to lift its rule that stated handing out copies of entire record groups or collections was not permitted. ITS states this is part of its transition from a tracing service to an archives. ITS director Jean-Luc Blondel stated, "When it comes to presenting its archives in the future, the ITS will adhere to international standards in archive terminology." The new rules will come into effect as soon as they are approved by the International Commission, whose eleven member states stipulate the guidelines for the work of ITS. The Commission will hold a meeting in Paris in mid-November 2011. The complete report can be found at

Avoid Lackawanna County Site
In the last edition of Nu? What’s New? I reported that Lackawanna County (Pennsylvania) now has records online. Avoid the site. It apparently is difficult to get running, requiring downloading of specific software. It is also difficult to navigate. One person reported to me that the downloading introduced a Trojan into his computer. I usually check out sites to give readers my opinion of the site. Of course, this was the rare time I was in a rush and merely reported the existence of a potentially useful website.

Avotaynu Offices Closed October 21 – November 3
 Avotaynu offices will be closed from October 21 – November 3. It is my annual (19th) trip to Salt Lake City with a group of Jewish genealogists to assist them in doing research at the Mormon Family History Library. If you were planning to order books from our online catalog this coming week, do it early in the week. There will be an edition of Nu? What’s New? next Sunday, but there may not be one the following Sunday.

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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