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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 5 | January 29, 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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Hearing To Be Held on Fate of Social Security Death Index
Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Vice President and chairperson of its Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, has reported that the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on Thursday, February 2, at 9am (Eastern time) about the accuracy and uses of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (also known as the Social Security Death Index). Witnesses will testify at the hearing, but the genealogical community has not been invited to testify. The hearing will be for invited witnesses only; however any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral presentation may submit a written statement for consideration by the subcommittee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.

The subcommittee notice states there have been a number of problems with public access to the SSDI. It notes that each year about 14,000 people (out of 1.5 million) are erroneously listed as deceased, and these people have “experienced termination of benefits, rejected credit, declined mortgages and other devastating consequences while their personal and private information is publicly exposed.”

The report also states that the database has become a source for thieves to capitalize on the identities of children and others who have died. Criminals appear to be exploiting the easy access to death information to submit fraudulent tax returns that include the decedent’s Social Security number.

Allen reported the public can watch the hearing live on one’s computer by going to and either click on the hearing or scroll down to the bottom right of the screen where it says committee videos. The hearing will also be archived. To determine the members of the committee, go to

The complete announcement is at Included in the announcement is the procedure for how any person or organization can submit a comment for the hearing record.

The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) is a joint committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society, and International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. One of its purposes is to monitor legislation in the U.S. that might affect access to records needed for family research and to make legislators aware of the consequence to genealogical research performed by their constituents. RPAC has a website at

Who Do You Think You Are? Announces Third Season Celebrities
The U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? has announced the schedule and cast of celebrities for their third season. The first show, featuring Martin Sheen, will air Friday, February 3, at 8pm on NBC. Other celebrities will include (probably in sequence that they will appear) Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Helen Hunt, Reba McEntire, Jerome Bettis, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen. Additional information can be found at

Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) Holds First Webinar
The recently formed Israel Genealogy Research Association held it first webinar on January 25: “Researching Genealogical Databases in Israel from your Couch.” It is now on the Internet at The lecturer is society member Daniel Horowitz, chief genealogist for Horowitz will give his second webinar on February 2 at 8pm Israeli time (1pm New York time) live from the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. Membership in the society is not a requirement to view the webinar. According to Garri Regev, president of the society, plans call for all webinars to be made available at their website to any person who registers with the group. Membership in the society is not a requirement.

The society also has posted a number of resources at its website: Currently they include Burial Societies in Israel, Genealogy Forms, List of Blogs, and Resource Guides for Latin America, Poland, Sephardic Genealogy, South Africa and United Kingdom

Tours Planned for Paris Conference
Tours: Paris conference planners have retained tour operator Joubert Voyages to organize genealogical trips before and after the conference to such places as Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, and the Baltic countries. Exactly which group tours will be implemented will depend on the number of attendees who register. Joubert Voyages can also provide flight and hotel reservations for people who want to travel by themselves to other countries and provide special conference rate tickets on French railways (SNCF) and on Air France flights. Within a few days, a specific website will be opened that will describe the program for each trip and allow you to register. You will also be able to sign up for one of the many tours of Paris during and after the Conference.

Discussion Group: Subscribe to the conference mailing list at to keep abreast of latest developments and post inquiries about the conference.

New Speakers: Among the new speakers scheduled are Diana Pelts, Director of Ukraine's Central State Historical Archives in L'viv; Georg Gaugusch, author of “Wer Einmal War” (Who Once Was), a compendium of Viennese Jews 1800–1938; Bozena Kubit, Head of the Ethnography and Silesia Department of the Willa Caro Museum in Gliwice, Poland; British author, Nicholas Evans.

Call for Papers: The deadline is January 31 to submit lectures.

Site: The conference will be held July 15–18, 2012, at the Rive Gauche Marriott in Paris, France. The conference website is It includes information about registration, hotel reservations, planned program to date and other useful information.

Five Issues of AVOTAYNU for the Price of Four Ends January 31
Avotaynu is offering to all new AVOTAYNU subscribers for 2012, the Winter 2011 issue free of charge. The offer ends January 31. Go to and select the special offer noted that includes the Winter issue. When checking out, use the Coupon Code, DOMESTIC, if the subscription is for a U.S. address, and FOREIGN if the subscription is for a non-U.S. address. This coupon will deduct the additional cost of the Winter issue from the subscription.

Index to HIAS (Boston) Case Files Online
The American Jewish Historical Society, New England Archives Branch, has at its website a list of more than 4,800 names of immigrants who arrived in Boston and were helped by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). The list represents about 30% of their total case files—the indexing is an ongoing project. Some of the cases are as recent as the 1970s; the oldest dates to 1904. Some case files may be restricted, for example, for privacy reasons. The archives is located at 99-101 Newbury St. in Boston. The list, and contact information, can ne found at Adds 7 Million Pennsylvania Records to Its Collection has partnered with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to add seven million records detailing more than 300 years of Pennsylvanians’ life history spanning from 1593–1908. Of greatest interest to Jewish genealogists will be naturalizations, 1794–1908. The complete announcement is at
Do you have deep roots in the UK? A website,, has a number of databases that may be of value. The site states it has a fully searchable database of London Ashkenazi synagogue records, with the emphasis on the period prior to the start of UK civil registration, which began on 1st July 1837. For example, searching for the common name “Levy” produced 50 birth records from 1793–1813.

Also included are a number of miscellaneous collections including Jewish Apprentices, Selected Jewish Masons 1717–1860, Subscribers to an 1807 Prayer Book and Hull Alien registration certificates 1793–1815.

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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