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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 42 | October 13, 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.

Subscribe to Nu? What's New? at
Avotaynu Offices Closed – Nu? What’s New? Skips a Week
Avotaynu offices are closed until Monday, October 29. This is the 20th year Eileen Polakoff and I are taking a group of Jewish genealogists to do research at the Mormon Family History Library in Salt Lake City. All orders placed through October 12 have been shipped.

There will be no edition of Nu? What’s New? next Sunday, October 21.

DNA Webinar
You can view a webinar that is an “Introduction to Genetic Genealogy at Family Tree DNA” at It is given by Elise Friedman, owner of Relative Roots, and was originally presented on October 4. The 90-minute program is geared toward people who have little knowledge about DNA testing and its application to family history research. Subjects covered include:
   • Why DNA testing?
   • What is genetic genealogy
   • Brief history of genetic genealogy
   • DNA basics and inheritance
   • Types of genetic genealogy tests
   • Making the most of your genetic genealogy experience
Registration is required and there is no charge for listening to the webinar.

Friedman offers other webinars for a small fee ($10). Information can be found at

FindMyPast Releases 56 Million Australian and New Zealand Records has launched 56 million new records covering Australia and New Zealand. New items include electoral rolls for Australia and New Zealand; birth, death and marriage records for South Australia; police and government gazettes; directories and even unique records such as numerous runs of Radio Call. Members of the fee-for-service cite can now also access ship passenger list records as part of their Australia/New Zealand subscription. This brings the total to more than 135 million records for people searching their Australian and New Zealand family history.

All told, the parent company claims their World Collection gives members access to more than 1.5 billion records from Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the United States. In addition to regular subscriptions, the company offers a PayAsYouGo credit option for new members wanting to try the website.

Additional information is available at

What Is the Best Genealogy Software?
What is the best genealogy software? A blog called Genealogy Today is tackling the problem by creating a software comparison guide at It identifies 49 software packages listed initially by the blog’s “Smart Ranking.” This ranking is based on information provided by CNET,, and Family Tree Magazine. The first two sources rate a product based on reviews by users. The last two rely on the opinion of a professional reviewer.

I was amazed that the software I have been using for the past 25 years, Brothers Keeper (BK), ranked second best, behind Legacy. Amazed because BK does not have all the bells and whistles of systems such as Family Tree Maker. In fact, that is what I like about BK; it focuses on the needs to maintain a family history database. Consequently it is easier to use. Family Tree Maker, the most popular genealogical software, and The Master Genealogist, considered by professional genealogists as the most comprehensive, ranked 13th and 11th respectively.

The GenealogyToday site provides the ability to compare individual systems on a large number of factors. Click the Compare button next to systems of interest and then click the Compare button at the bottom of the page. What is presented is a comparison of the selected packages on such factors as price, methods of delivery, languages supported, types of technical support, contact details, and, most importantly, capabilities. The capabilities check off list of 45 items has mistakes, at least based on my knowledge of Brothers Keeper. It states BK does not have GEDCOM import/export ability which is not true. None of the software capabilities are explained; therefore, it is difficult to understand what is meant by BK not having a multi-lingual interface. BK does support more than one language.

Brother’s Keeper is one of the original genealogical software packages developed in the 1980s. It is the only one to survive the onslaught of major corporations who invested millions of dollars in software to penetrate the genealogy market, creating systems that were superior in functionality. It is still maintained by one person, the author: John Steed. It is upgraded regularly (now up to Release 6.6) and the support staff (John Steed) invariably answers all questions within 24 hours.

Also visit GenSoftReviews at It rates software based on user reviews and there usually are enough user comments to assist in deciding which package to use.

A description of the project can be found at

JewishGen to Hold Advanced Genealogy Class
JewishGen will hold an “Advanced JewishGen Genealogy” class from November 1–30. It is Internet oriented, open 24/7, and focuses on finding family records in Eastern Europe, including the Pale of Settlement.
Downloadable lessons include:
   • An overview of JewishGen and its search capacities and component databases
   • An understanding of Jewish customs, geography and history, as they affect family research
   • The methodology of foreign research
   • Jewish European research sources and how to contact other researchers
   • Hiring professional researchers in other countries to search for records

Tuition is $150. Enrollment information can be found at the JewishGen Learning Center:

Leo Baeck Institute to Launch Its DigiBaeck System
This Tuesday, October 16, Leo Baeck Institute will launch its DigiBaeck System located at It is a digital version of its collections that includes 3.5 million pages of material ranging from items on luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Moses Mendelssohn to letters, diaries, recipes, and other ephemera chronicling the lives of everyday German-speaking Jews for more than five centuries.

The system includes:
   • Archival Materials. Nearly 75 percent of the LBI archival collections, which include personal documents, correspondence, family and community histories, genealogical materials and business records.
   • Photographs. LBI’s entire collection of over 25,000 photographs has been digitized.
   • Memoirs and Manuscripts. LBI’s entire collection of more than 2,000 memoirs and manuscripts has been digitized. This includes the original manuscripts and typescripts for important works such as Joseph Roth's Radetzkymarsch as well as unpublished diaries and memoirs that document German-Jewish life from the 18th century to the present.
   • Audio Recordings. In addition to rare recordings of Jewish liturgical music, DigiBaeck includes a growing collection of more than 250 oral history interviews with Austrian-Jewish emigrés who fled to New York to escape the Nazis. These interviews are conducted by volunteers with support from the Austrian government.
   • Art and Objects. 2,000 items from its art collection.
   • Books and Periodicals. Most of the library’s collection has not been digitized due to copyright restrictions. Some unique and rare items are available.

Leo Baeck Institute is a New York City-based research library devoted to the study of the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry.

Forces War Records Adds Home Guard Records
The website, Forces War Records, has added the complete list of more than 40,000 records of officers of the British Home Guard, also known as Dad's Army. The Home Guard was operational from 1940 to 1944 and was set up by the British Army during World War II. The nickname Dad's Army was due to the average age of the local volunteers who signed up and were ineligible for military service, usually because of their age. Most Home Guard records are kept in the form of enrolment forms, recommendations for awards and cabinet papers by the Ministry of Defense and other institutions. Forces War Records states they are the only site to hold these records in digitized transcribed format, making the entire list of officers of the Home Guard easy to search at

Forces War Records is a fee-for-service site that states it has military records of more than 4.5 million British Armed Forces personnel from the Boer War, Crimean War, WWI and WWII. The database includes some civilian war dead from WWII. The cost for a one-month subscription is £8.95.

 We are still working on the Fall issue of AVOTAYNU but are already looking ahead to the Winter issue.  

Wanted: Human Interest Stories for Winter Issue. For the past 26 years, AVOTAYNU has devoted a portion of each Winter issue to genealogy human interest stories. Stories are typically about how genealogy affected people’s lives, whether it be the researcher or the people they are researching. Deadline for submission this year is December 1, 2012. It you would like to share such a story with AVOTAYNU subscribers, submit it by e-mail to Wherever possible, illustrations should accompany the article. Avotaynu writing style rules can be found at

In 2008, Avotaynu published 72 of some of the best human interest stories in a book: Every Family Has a Story. The complete Table of Contents, which is annotated, as well as ordering information can be found at There is also a sample story from the book.

Wanted: New Family Histories in Print. The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU also lists Jewish genealogical family histories that have been published in the preceding 12 months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported. The format to follow is: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Deadline for inclusion is December 15, 2012. Send submissions to

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 (one-time charge).

 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.
Copyright 2012, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To change an e-mail address, send a request to

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 155 N. Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621

Telephone  (U.S.) : 201-387-7200