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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 38 | September 16, 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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Shana Tovah!
Happy (Jewish) New Year to all!! May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year. Trivia question: Why is it improper to greet a person after the first day of Rosh Hashanah with the greeting “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year”? Answer: Because it is believed that the most righteous persons are immediately inscribed in the Book of Life and those of less questionable character are written down at a later date. Therefore, giving the greeting after the first day implies the person is less than the most righteous. The proper greeting after the first night is “May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.”

Historical Jewish Press Website
Rose Feldman of the Israel Genealogy Research Association reports that an additional 61,533 pages of content has been added to the Historical Jewish Press website bringing the total number of pages digitized and indexed to nearly 800,000. It includes the major newspaper Ma’ariv through 1987. The English version of the site is located at There are French and Hebrew versions.

Locating the search engine is not obvious. From the home page click “Search by Language.” Then click a specific language to search newspapers written in the selected language.  I found a number of obituaries for Israeli family members at the site. Hebrew-language newspapers must be searched using the Hebrew alphabet. If your keyboard does not support Hebrew, use the Stephen P. Morse site at to convert the characters.

Historical Jewish Press is a project of the National Library and Tel Aviv University contains digitized images of 31 Jewish newspapers mostly published in Israel and Eretz Israel. Other countries include Austria, Egypt, France, Hungary, Morocco, Poland, Prussia and czarist Russia. A list of newspapers is located at

Joint Symposium on Jewish Genealogy Held in St. Petersburg
A joint symposium between the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and the Russian Institute for Genealogical Research was held in St. Petersburg on September 10–12. “By all accounts, the symposium was a success,” stated Neville Lamdan, director of IIJG.

All told 23 papers were presented by 20 speakers over the two-and-a-half days of the symposium. The geographic area covered was Russia proper (i.e., outside the Pale of Settlement) throughout the 19th century until the inter-war period. The first day of working sessions dealt primarily with sources and resources for the genealogy and family history of the Jews in Russia, while the second day was devoted to case studies. The range of topics was wide: documents on Jewish genealogy in the Russian National Library; NKVD and Russian provincial archives; synagogues and cemeteries as sources for Jewish genealogy; studies regarding requests from Jews to settle outside the Pale; genealogy of Jewish women in Russia; Jews in the Russian nobility; Jewish business and merchant families in Moscow; and artisan families in the provinces.

Lamdan reports that the overall view was that the symposium was a valuable first step in the right direction, in terms of both the subject matter and as a fruitful collaborative effort. Several calls were made to hold repeat events, either in Jerusalem, Moscow or even in a provincial city in Russia.

All the papers were given in Russian. IIJG hopes to raise funds (about $10,000) to have them translated and published.

Bessarabian Towns in Pinkas HaKehillot Being Translated
One of the more remarkable sets of books about the history of the Jewish presence in Europe is the Pinkas HaKehillot (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities) series published by Yad Vashem. The volumes are almost all written in Hebrew.
The number of volumes by country are Germany (4), Greece (1), Hungary (1), Latvia (1), Libya and Tunisia (1), Lithuania (1), The Netherlands (1), Poland (8), Romania (2), Slovakia (1), Yugoslavia (1).

The Bessarabia Special Interest Group of JewishGen is in the process of translating into English the 32 Bessarabian and 3 Transnistria (Moldova) articles that appear in Pinkas HaKehillot Romania Volume 2. They have already completed the translation of 15 articles with four more to be published shortly. They are all part of the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project which can be found at A list of town articles by country that are already translated is at

A summarized three-volume work of the Pinkas HaKehillot series called Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust is sold by Avotaynu. Information can be found at Included is a list of all the towns found in the Encyclopedia.

Clarification of Slovakian Church and Synagogue Books Article
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? noted that there was a question as to whether there were online 2 or 7.6 million records of the FamilySearch “Slovakia Church and Synagogue Books from 1592–1910” collection. Kahlile Mehr of the Family History Department has informed us there are 7.6 million index entries and 2 million images online. The database is 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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