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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 6 | February 4, 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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IIJG Forming Ethics Panel
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem (IIJG) is creating a “blue ribbon” committee to examine ethical questions in Jewish genealogy, with a view to recommending a series of “ethical guidelines” for Jewish genealogists and family historians to bear in mind as they proceed with their research work and contemplate publishing the results. Baroness Ruth Deech, a member of the IIJG Honorary Advisory Board, will chair the committee, and Rony Golan, IIJG’s legal counsel, will act as deputy chair. Both have a deep interest in Jewish genealogy and also in professional ethical behavior. Baroness Deech gained renown in the United Kingdom as chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority from 1994 to 2002, where she took a special interest in ethics in modern medicine. Golan teaches a course at the Hebrew University on ethics in the tourist industry and has given thought to halacha (Jewish religious law) as it bears on ethical issues in Jewish genealogy. IIJG is currently in the process of assembling the other members of the committee. The goal is to complete the project in 12 months.

In other IIJG news, the Rothschild Foundation (Europe) has awarded IIJG a substantial grant  for its flagship project, “200 Years of Scottish Jewry - a Demographic and Genealogical Profile.” Work on that project, led by genealogists Michael Tobias and Harvey Kaplan, is well underway. The cataloguing of the Rabbi Shmuel Gorr Genealogical Papers is completed. Rabbi Gorr worked as a professional genealogist in Jerusalem for more than a quarter of a century before his death in 1988. He bequeathed his papers to the National Library of Israel. A searchable index has been posted on the Library's online catalogue detailing all family trees, surnames and places in the collection.

The IIJG website is at Planning to Create Database of Name Variants, and have announced plans to create a database of name variants to be used in genealogy searches. The companies want the genealogical community to submit alternate spellings of names. The data will be an open-source database, free for any website or genealogy software developer to use. As described, this project is focusing on surnames, not given names.

The group notes that up to now most genealogy databases have had to rely upon Soundex to provide variant names in response to searches. This approach often misses variants that should be returned and/or include variants that are not very similar.

The group also is asking for volunteers to review the changes that others have made to the database, in order to verify the accuracy of the submissions as well as the entries slated for removal.

You can review and add variant spellings at

Changes that others have made can be seen at

More information about the project is at

U.S. Census Records Available Through Brightsolid
Brightsolid, the UK-based owner of,,, and other genealogy-related sites, has entered the U.S. genealogy market by making U.S. censuses available at on a pay-as-you-go basis. At present, only the 1910 and 1930 censuses are online, but the company states they will eventually have all censuses including the 1940 census when it is made available.

An advantage of having yet another company provide records that already exist online is that misindexed entries in existing databases may be indexed correctly in the new version. For example, an subscriber who cannot find a census record may find it at the site and pay for just the single record.

One thousand pay-as-you-go credits cost $7.95. There is no indication how many credits are required to get a census page. Researchers can also buy a subscription, which starts at $12.95 for a one-month subscription.

Its expansion this year into the U.S. follows the recent launch of findmypast sites in both Ireland and Australia and the launch online of the British Newspaper Archive at

The complete announcement is at

New “Trees” Feature at Family Search
FamilySearch has added a new “Trees” search screen that is accessed from its home page by clicking the Trees tab. The function will limit searches of the FamilySearch Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File databases. Both contain information from family trees submitted by genealogists. The original version of Ancestral File provided the name and address of the submitter; the new version does not. There never was an attempt to keep the submitter information current in the original version. For example, I submitted the Mokotow family tree to Ancestral File in the 1980s. It still shows an address for me that became obsolete 15 years ago. The new Tree feature is described at

Who Do You Think You Are – Live Conference
This year’s “Who Do You Think You Are – Live” conference will be held February 24–26 at the Olympia Centre in London. It is sponsored by It is estimated that more than 15,000 people will attend the event. There are lectures, workshops and an exhibit hall where more than 150 vendors (including the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain) will present their goods and services.

Celebrities from the UK version of the Who Do You Think You Are? television series will take the stage at a Celebrity Theatre. FamilyTreeDNA will host a DNA Workshop area where international expert speakers and leaders in the field of DNA testing will explain how this science can reveal your genealogy. The Society of Genealogists will have an Ask the Experts area where people can get one-to-one guidance on their family history research.

The conference website is at

Gesher Galicia Search Engine Creator Wins Award
In the August 1 and October 16, 2011, editions of Nu? What’s New? I lauded the search engine developed by Brooke Schreier Ganz for Gesher Galicia’s All-Galicia Database. Now Ganz has won Second Place in the RootsTech 2012 Developer Challenge Award for creating "LeafSeek," a system that helps turn genealogical or historical record collections into searchable online databases. It had its origins in the work she did for the All-Galicia Database. LeafSeek includes features such as built-in geo-spatial searches, pop-up Google Maps, Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching, name synonyms, and language localization to help turn your spreadsheets of names and dates into a full-featured genealogy search engine. Information about the system is available at To see examples of the various features, click “LeafSeek In Action” on the home page and then click on each of the various LeafSeek Features.

“British-Jewry” is a Special Interest Group that was formed exactly 10 years ago—in January 2002—as an email list on Rootsweb. Since then, it has created a website at that contains a potpourri of databases contributed by its members. One of the larger databases is the Leeds database which contains information about 36,000 people. More often they are small lists such as the 51 persons buried in the Betholom Row Cemetery in Birmingham. If you have Anglo Jewish heritage, the site is worth a visit. There is provision to join their mailing list at the site.

Site Provides Ukrainian Archives Information
A posting to the Ukraine SIG Discussion of JewishGen notes there is a Russian language site at that has information about various archives in the Ukraine including postal and e-mail addresses, website, telephone number, hours of operation and directions. The author of the site, Vitaly Semyonov, also provides personal comments about conditions at the archives. Use Google Chrome to browse the website. It recognizes that the site is in Russian and will translate the page into your native language.

Genealogy Quality Code
Can you trust the accuracy of websites you visit? Can you be certain the data they offer is properly researched and sourced? Do the owners/publishers have the right(s) to the data they offer? Three British genealogists are trying to set up an approval mechanism that will allow a website to display a logo stating they conform to a “Genealogy Quality Code.” At present, the six sites that have been approved are all from the UK and four of the six are Jewish data sites. They are likely the sites of the founders. Information is at

Discount Offers by Commercial Genealogy Companies
There are now many commercial ventures in the business of family history. From time to time they offer discounts on their products. Nu? What’s New? is starting a new section that will be titled “Discount Offers By Commercial Genealogy Companies” that will make readers aware of these discounts. is offering a 10% discount on its Full subscription. Use coupon code SUB10.

The UK 1911 census site,, has extended its discount until March 1. Until then, view a 1911 census original image for 10 credits (previously 30) and a transcript for 5 credits (previously 10).

February is Black History Month in the U.S. Fold3 is making its Black History Collection at available free of charge during the month.

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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