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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 12 | March 18, 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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Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won’t Go Away
Church Makes an Extra Effort
The directive by the First Presidency of the Mormon Church that Mormons must limit baptisms to relatives was posted on local Church bulletin boards and read during the regular Sunday service two weeks ago. It now has received additional reinforcement this past week when every person who has access to the secret database located at received the directive by e-mail. The message reiterated that “without exception, Church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims. If members do so, they may forfeit their new family-search privileges. Other corrective action may also be taken.”

News About the Annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Deadline Looms for Early-Bird Registration for Paris Conference
March 31 is the deadline for early-bird registration for the 32nd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. It is being held at the Marriott Paris Rive-Gauche Hotel from July 15–18, 2012. The cost is 185€ (approximately $250/₤158). For a couple, it is 320€ ($430/₤275). The sponsoring society, Le Cercle de Généalogie Juive, is offering discounts on registration to its members, a first in conference history. There is no indication what the registration cost will be after the deadline. Register at

French Priest To Speak at Conference Gala
Father Patrick Desbois, the French priest who has been crisscrossing the Ukrainian countryside in an effort to locate every mass grave and site where Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, will be the speaker at the Gala event on Tuesday, July 17. Father Desbois had previously spoken at the Philadelphia conference in 2009. Father Desbois is president of the Yahad–In Unum Association, an organization “having the goal to increase knowledge and cooperation between Catholics and Jews.” (“Yahad” and “In Unim” both mean "together” in Hebrew and Latin.) To date, they have identified 800 of an estimated 2,000 such locations. The organization was founded in 2004 by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, then archbishop of Paris. Cardinal Lustiger was born Jewish. At 13 years old he converted to the Roman Catholic faith. Father Desbois is author of the recently published Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews.

Conference Program To Be Remarkable
I have not looked at the planned program for this year’s International Conference on Jewish Genealogy for a few months and what I see now is quite remarkable. One dictionary definition of the word “remarkable” is “conspicuously different.” That is what is remarkable about the conference program; it is conspicuously different.

A large number of AVOTAYNU Contributing Editors who normally do not come to the conferences held in the U.S. are presenting lectures. They include Laurence Abensur (Sephardic), Marcel Apsel (Belgium), Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Latvia), Thomas Fürth (Sweden), Ladislau Gyemant (Romania), Harvey Kaplan (Scotland), René Loeb (Switzerland), Julius Müller (Czech Republic), Jürgen Sielemann (Germany), and Harmen Snel (The Netherlands).

Many Israelis will be lecturing including Alexander Avraham (Yad Vashem), Doron Behar (geneticist), Zvi Bernhardt (Yad Vashem), Rose Feldman, Haim Ghiuzeli (Beit Hatfutsot), Rony Golan (IIJG), Michael Goldstein (IAJGS), Daniel Horowitz (, Yitzchak Kerem, Avrohom Krauss, Martha LevZion, Garri Regev (IGRA), Jean-Pierre Stroweis (IIJG), and Mathilde Tagger.

European archivists are included in the program: Rita Bogdanova (Latvia), Denis Vasilevich Lisejchikov (Belarus), Diana Pelts (Ukraine), Iryna Serheyeva (Ukraine), Albert Stankowski (Poland), Zsuzanna Toronyi (Hungary), Grzegorzy Zamoyski (Poland).

(My apologies for errors of omission.)

There appears to be at least one speaker from every country in Europe. You can view the program at the conference website by date, speaker, topics or type of activity.

SIG Breakfasts and Luncheons. The conference registration page is the site where attendees can register for Special Interest Group (SIG) breakfasts (19€) or Lunches (29€). You can also sign for lunches only (without SIG registration for 25€). All meals will be kosher.

Hotel Accommodations. A special hotel rate of €119 per night includes a French breakfast (what we Americans call a Continental breakfast). This rate also applies to a number of days before and after the conference. The link to hotel registration brings you to the French-language Marriott site. If you feel uncomfortable making the reservation in French, go to for the English-language version, and be sure to use the conference code: ZX4ZX4A to get the discounted rate.

Travel Considerations. The conference travel company, Joubert-voyage, is offering a number of services for the conference. They will arrange transfer to/from the airport. The cost is 20€ for a group transfer. Provide flight numbers and the dates and times of arrival and departure to Tours of noted sites in the Paris area are scheduled. They include the Louvre, Montparnasse, Montmartre and other sites. There are planned 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. Information can be found at 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.

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

Jewish Records Indexing – Poland Adds Surname Distribution Mapper
Yet another example of the high quality of applications that are coming to Jewish genealogy websites has been announced by Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. Called Surname Distribution Mapper, it gathers all the records for a given surname present in the organization’s database of more than 4.5 million vital records, and plots them on a Google map of Poland in the form of tree icons. The bigger the icon, the more records for that particular location. Consequently, the new feature becomes a pictorial representation where the people with the surname lived and the geographic time frame in which their records were created.

An especially interesting feature is to display the results for specific decades during which JRI-Poland holds records. An option to this feature, Play Progression, displays all decades in progression possibly describing the migration pattern of the surname.

The Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System is used for collecting records. The system accommodates spelling variants of surnames.

This new feature is integrated into the main function of the site. When running the cursor over a tree icon, a popup window displays the number of vital record entries found in a town in the JRI-Poland database. Clicking on the balloon brings the user to the regular JRI-Poland search results for detailed viewing of a town’s entries.

The implementation of this new function was accomplished by Michael Tobias, who has been the architect of the JRI-Poland site from its very start. Tobias is also Vice-President of Programming for JewishGen.

The Surname Distribution Mapper can be accessed from

U.S. Senate To Hold Hearings on Social Security Death Index Controversy
The Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth has scheduled a hearing on the Death Master File (Social Security Death Index) for Tuesday, March 20, Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Vice President and Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee. Allen reports that the hearing is a fact-finding hearing, and it is not expected that any action will be taken at this time. Briefly, the bill addresses tax fraud and establishes penalties and user ID numbers for those who file regarding identity fraud. Section 9 (page 6) restricts access to the Death Master File for the calendar year of the person's death and the calendar year following; disclosure of information on a deceased person listed in the DMF is prohibited unless they are certified. Certification would be done through the Secretary of Commerce and only to those who have a legitimate fraud prevention interest. The Social Security Administration would not be compelled to disclose information on any person in the DMF that is not certified. The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is the commercial version of the Death Master File.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Highlighted by California Death and Divorce Indexes and Nevada Marriage Index
Below are the only additions of images and/or indexes to FamilySearch that I have concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. The California death index (9 million entries), California divorce index (3.5 million entries) and Nevada marriage index (5 million entries) highlight the additions. Most of the additions this week are courtesy of

The complete list can be found at This site provides links directly to the collection described. Note that announced new collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.

Canada, Saskatchewan Provincial Records, 1879–1987 Added images to existing collection.
New Zealand, Probate Records, 1878–1960 Added images to existing collection.
U.S., Arkansas, Divorce Index, 1923–1939 New index collection courtesy of
U.S., California, Death Index, 1940–1997 New index collection.
U.S., California, Divorce Index, 1966–1984 New index collection courtesy of
U.S., Connecticut Divorce Index, 1968–1997 New index collection courtesy of
U.S., Georgia, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1940–1942 Added index records and images to existing collection.
U.S., Indiana, Marriages, 1811–1959 (LaGrange and Lawrence counties) Added index records and images to existing collection.
U.S., Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796–1940 Added index records and images to existing collection.
U.S., Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1841–1920 Added images to existing collection.
U.S., Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860–1949 Added index records and images to existing collection.
U.S., Minnesota, Divorce Index, 1970–1995 New index collection courtesy of
U.S., Nevada, Marriage Index, 1956–2005 New index collection courtesy of
U.S., North Carolina, County Records, 1833–1970 Added images to existing collection.
U.S., Wisconsin, Divorce Index, 1965–1984 New index collection courtesy of

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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