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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 40 | September 30, 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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2014 Conference Dates Announced
For those who like to plan far ahead, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies has posted to their website that the 34th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held July 27
August 1, 2014, in Salt Lake City at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center, just three blocks from the Mormon Family History Center. No other particulars are available.

The 2013 conference is in Boston from August 4
9. Information about that conference is at

IIJG Announces Research Grants
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy has announced it has awarded two grants from proposals it has received for family history research. One is for a study into "Family and Kinship in the Jewish City of Piotrków Trybunalski in the 19th Century” by Tomasz Jankowski of Wroclaw, Poland. The second is to Laurence Leitenberg of Lausanne, Switzerland, who, together with Sandy Crystall of Bow, New Hampshire, USA, will create a series of "Digital Maps of Jewish Populations in Europe (1750–1930)" for online viewing.

IIJG reports that the Jankowski work will be wholly innovative, because he proposes to use sophisticated family reconstruction techniques that have never been applied in a systematic fashion to a large Jewish community. If successful, the work will have broad implications for the genealogical reconstruction of Jewish communities. The Leitenberg-Crystall maps fall into the category of the "Tools and Technologies" which the Institute strives to produce for Jewish family historians and social scientists generally.

Information about IIJG can be found at

Status of Various Freedom of Information Activities in the U.S.
Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Vice President and Chairperson of its Public Records Access Monitoring Committee has reported on a number of matters regarding access to government records important to family history research.

Six bills before Congress regarding the Social Security Death Index (Death Master File) have not been acted on, and Congress has adjourned until after the elections. If they are not passed by the time the new Congress is seated in January, the bills will die and have to be reintroduced. All these bills limit access to the SSDI in some way.

Laws at the state level which restrict access are being challenged, Allen reports. The State of Virginia recently passed a law that includes provisions of its state public disclosure law that allows only its own residents access rights to public records. This is now being challenged in federal courts. Information can be found at Some states no longer provide cause of death on death certificates, something important to family medical history. Such a law is being challenged in Indiana. An article about the topic can be viewed at

JewishGen Offering Course in Search Strategies for Genealogy
How to search the Internet to locate people, information about people, or information important to your family history research is an important skill for genealogists. JewishGen is offering a course titled “Search Strategies for Genealogy” which will be held October 15–28. It is two-week class that is a series of 10 lessons. Included will be search basics, search tips and tricks and advanced search parameters. There will be a concentration on using Google as the preferred search engine. This class will be taught in a forum setting open 24/7 with daily tasks and assignments that should take no more than an hour a day. Each lesson includes illustrative quick search problems using Google and selected genealogical internet databases. The cost is $18. Additional information and how to enroll can be found at

October 1 Deadline for Discount on City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York 
New York University Press has just published a remarkable history of the Jews of New York, and Avotaynu is offering it at a discount until Monday, October 1. Titled City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York, it is a three-volume boxed set; 1108 pages in total.

The list price is $99. 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!

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.

Additional information, including how to order, can be found at

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Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
 All back issues of our journal AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages, 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35.

 Additional information at

Number of articles in Anthology by topic:

Algeria 8
Argentina 21
Australia 36
Austria 17
Austro-Hungary 7**
Belarus* 26
Belgium 24
Bermuda 1
Book Reviews 289
Brazil 25
Bulgaria 5
Burma 1
Canada 94
Caribbean 9
Cuba 3

China 10

Computers 21
Conferences 52
Costa Rica 1
Croatia 3
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 33
Denmark 2
DNA 25
East Europe– Gen’l
Egypt 11
England 125
Estonia* 5
Europe-General 25
Finland 1

France 102
Galicia 20
General 233
Germany 173
Gibraltar 1
Greece 12
Holland 83
Holocaust 177
Hungary 46
India 6
Iraq 3
Iran 5
Ireland 2
Israel 125
Italy 14 
Latvia* 26

LDS 29
Libya 1
Lithuania* 71
Methodology 84
Moldova* 5
Morocco 18
New Zealand 13
North Africa 2
Poland 118
Portugal 21
Rabbinic 57
Romania 33
Russia 46** 
Scotland 27
Sephardic 42
Serbia 2

Slovakia 1
South Africa 22
South America 1
Spain 13
Sudan 1
Sweden 5
Switzerland 27
Syria 3
Tunisia 3
Turkey 22
Ukraine* 57
United States   227
USSR 92**
Venezuela 1
Zimbabwe 1

Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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