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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 39 | September 23, 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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Who Do You Think You Are? Renewed in Canada and Possibly U.S.
Who Do You Think You Are? the popular television program about the family history of celebrities, has been renewed for another season in Canada and may have found sponsors in the U.S. The Canadian version appears every Monday at 8:30pm on CBC. Additional information can be found at There are rumors that the producers of the American version may conclude an arrangement with the TLC cable channel. The show was dropped by NBC after it aired earlier this year for a third season. Further information can be found at

In addition to Canada and the U.S., the show appears or has appeared in 10 additional countries including Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the UK. The show was first broadcast in the UK in 2004. To find additional information about the program in a specific country, Google “Who Do You Think You Are?” plus the country name.

City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York, 3-volume box set
New York University Press has just published a remarkable history of the Jews of New York, and Avotaynu has made arrangements with the publisher to offer it at a discount for the next two weeks. Titled City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York, it is a three-volume boxed set; 1108 pages in total.

The first volume, titled Haven of Liberty, chronicles the colonial days of New York Jewry from the arrival of the first Jews to New York (then New Amsterdam) in 1654 and highlights their political and economic challenges. Volume II, Emerging Metropolis, describes New York’s transformation into a Jewish city. Focusing on the urban Jewish-built environment—its tenements and banks, synagogues and shops, department stores and settlement houses—it conveys the extraordinary complexity of Jewish immigrant society. Volume III, Jews in Gotham, highlights neighborhood life as the city’s distinctive feature. New York retained its preeminence as the capital of American Jews because of deep roots in local worlds that supported vigorous political, religious, and economic diversity.

NYU Press sells the 3-volume, 1108-page, set for $99 plus shipping. Until October 1, Avotaynu is offering it for $84 plus shipping, a 15% discount. Furthermore, the publisher has informed us they plan to increase the price on January 1, 2013, to $125. Order now! Additional information, including how to order, can be found at

Secondary Benefit from St. Petersburg Symposium
The symposium sponsored by the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and the Russian Institute for Genealogical Research held in St. Petersburg on September 10–12 had an interesting secondary benefit. Three of the participants—all Russian born, but citizens of other countries—gave special lectures to local Jewish cultural societies. They were Benjamin Lukin and Vladimir Levin, both of Israel, and Alexandre Beider of France.

Beider reports that his talks, held at the Jewish Cultural Center of St. Petersburg, attracted 70–80 persons, mostly young men and women. He first gave the lecture originally presented at the 32nd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy held in Paris this summer. The topic was “Jewish (Given) Naming Traditions.” The talk also appears in the Summer issue of AVOTAYNU. The event concluded with a discussion of surnames adopted in the Pale of Settlement. This part was intentionally interactive, Beider presenting a series of surnames and the audience was asked to determine their language of origin and type.

Beider commented that “such meetings create a growing interest among Russian Jews in their Jewish identity and cultural past and, hopefully, will cause some of them to pursue an interest in Russian-Jewish research.” Introduces Record Matching to Its Users has added a feature that will compare persons on your family tree against the record collections in its possession and provide a set of matches. The company states they have more than four billion worldwide records including birth, marriage and death records, gravestone photos, burial, census, military and immigration records, newspapers, books and other documents.

At no charge, the search engine provides an abbreviated summary of matches found. Viewing full records from some data collections is free (e.g. Ellis Island and Find-a-Grave). Viewing other records in full requires a new type of subscription, called a data subscription, which also provides unlimited access to MyHeritage SuperSearch. The cost for the service is $76.20 per year. You can also view specific records by purchasing pay-as-you-go credits.

Record Matching runs periodically, covering new data collections that are added constantly. A detailed description of the system is at

Ancestry Offers Free Guide to U.S. Censuses is offering at no charge a guide to using the U.S. censuses. Titled Follow Your Family Using Census Records it is a seven-page PDF file that can be downloaded at It includes a chart that shows which questions are asked in the various censuses.

Final Comment About Slovakian Church and Synagogue Books
Kahlile Mehr of the Family History Department has informed us that the index portion of FamilySearch’s “Slovakia Church and Synagogue Books from 1592–1910” collection includes only baptisms. No Jewish records have yet to be indexed. The database, both index and images, 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.
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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