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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 2 | January 8, 2012

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.

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New Genealogy Society Formed in Israel
Some of the top genealogists in Israel have formed a new genealogical society called the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA). They include:
  • Esther Ramon, founding president of the Israel Genealogical Society
  • Mathilde Tagger, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), member of Founding Committee of International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, author and lecturer on Sephardic genealogy.
  • Martha Lev-Zion, past member of the IAJGS Board of Directors, founder and president of the Negev Genealogical Society and past president of the Latvia SIG of JewishGen.
  • Jean-Pierre Stroweis, past president of the Israel Genealogical Society, member of the academic committee of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, and co-chair of the 2004 IAJGS conference held in Jerusalem.
  • Daniel Horowitz, chief genealogist of and member of the IAJGS Board of Directors.
  • H. Daniel Wagner, co-chair of the 2004 IAJGS conference held in Jerusalem, member of Academic Committee of International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.
  • Rose Lerer Cohen, professional family history researcher and co-author of The Holocaust in Lithuania 1941–1945: A Book of Remembrance.
  • Rose Feldman, past webmistress of the Israel Genealogical Society for nine years. She has lectured at a number of IAJGS conferences, annual seminars of the Israel Genealogical Society and their branch meetings. She will be responsible for developing databases for the new society.

The center of the organization will be a website located at The website is presented in English, but the home page provides the option to display the pages in French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Russian Spanish and Yiddish. The site will host videos, webinars, articles on genealogy, research guides, and the calendar of events for the society. There are already three research guides: Latin America by Daniel Horowitz, Poland by Jean-Pierre Stroweis and United Kingdom by Rosemary Eshel. Guides for Latvia, South Africa and Sephardic research will be available in the near future.

Lectures are planned throughout Israel. The new society has already given four lectures and three planned for the near future are noted on their home page.

The website states the society is “dedicated to being completely open to all groups within Israel and outside of Israel. We welcome everyone interested in genealogy, no matter what country they were born in or what language they speak.”

Virtual Shtetl
The Virtual Shtetl website now claims to have more than 66,000 photos of the Jewish presence in Eastern Europe. They can be accessed at The search engine, located in the upper left corner of the screen, searches any word in the description of the photos, so a surname search might produce useful results. The results are summarized into three categories: Texts, Photos and News/Bibliography. Click on “Photos” to limit the display to photos only. My personal experience in searching for photos of towns is that they are mostly pictures of individuals taken from family albums rather than general pictures of the Jews of the town.

Who Do You Think You Are? Third Season Premiering February 3
The American version of Who Do You Think You Are? returns for its third season on Friday, February 3 at 8 p.m. ET. The celebrities who star this season are Jerome Bettis, Paula Deen, Edie Falco, Helen Hunt, Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe, Reba McEntire, Martin Sheen, Jason Sudeikis Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood and Rita Wilson. This implies it will be a 13-week season—the longest to date— demonstrating the popularity of the show.

The show is an adaptation of the award-winning hit British television documentary series that leads celebrities on a journey of self-discovery as they unearth their family trees that reveal surprising, inspiring and even tragic stories that often are linked to crucial events in American history. continues in its role as official partner on the series, helping to provide the research used to build each story.

The complete news release can be found at

PBS To Air Another Genealogy Series reports that the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) will debut a 10-part series on family roots starting March 25. This would be the second series the network presented on family history. Previously, they joined with historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. on their own genealogy quest. The new series will feature two people in each one-hour episode. Additional information can be found at

German Address Books Online
A posting to the GerSIG Digest of JewishGen notes that there are a large number of address books for German cities online at For example it has Berlin address books from 1798-1943. The collection also includes address books for Vienna and Zurich. As the URL implies, it is part of a German genealogy Wiki. Going to the home page at and using the search engine might produce useful results.

U.S. National Archives Puts Genealogy-Oriented Workshops Online
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has placed on YouTube a number of how-to lectures that are oriented toward the needs of family historians. There is a 12-minute lecture on census records at that includes comments about census records in general and, therefore, could be of interest to anyone, not only those interest in U.S. census research. Another topic covered is immigration records at The three other lectures currently available are on military records which would be of less interest to Jewish genealogists whose ancestors came to the U.S. after 1890. (They mostly focus on military records of the 18th and 19th century.)

In general, the lectures cover the creation, scope, content, and use of NARA records for genealogical research. The videos are part of the National Archives “Know Your Records” video program. It offers opportunities for staff, volunteers, and researchers to learn about NARA records through lectures, ongoing genealogy programs, workshops, symposia, and other means.

Additional information can be found at Makes Available Infirmity Column of 1911 Census has just added the 'infirmity' column of the 1911 census of England and Wales to its database at If your ancestors completed this part of the census return, you will be able to see information about your family's health in 1911. Under data protection regulations, this sensitive information remained hidden until now. The company stated that the five most common “infirmities” recorded in 1911 were lunatic, feeble-minded, imbecile, deaf/dumb and blind. They have also just revealed any recorded details of children born to women in prison who were aged three or under at the time of the census.

In conjunction with the release of this data, the company is allowing access to the complete 1911 census at a reduced cost until January 31. View a 1911 census original image for 10 credits—about $2.00—and a transcript for 5 credits. Additional information can be found at

Recent U.S. Record Additions to Online FamilySearch listed additions of U.S. records to FamilySearch since November 26. Some may be duplications of postings to Nu? What’s New? in early December, but this is a comprehensive list worth browsing. You will find it at Subscribers Reach 1.7 Million
In an end-of-year report, Inc. reported a 22 percent jump in subscribers in 2011. The company ended the year with 1.7 million paying subscribers, compared with 1.4 million subscribers a year ago. also said it expects 2012 revenue growth in the mid-to-high teens. In response to the announcement, Ancestry stock rose 15%. 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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