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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 45 | November 11, 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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ITS Releases 224,000 Correspondence Files to Partner Organizations
The International Tracing Service (ITS) has provided additional digital copies of its records to seven partner organizations in Belgium, France, Great Britain, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland and the United States. This data involves 224,000 correspondence files with survivors and family members of victims of Nazi persecution. ITS estimates they have 3 million correspondence files of which 300,000 have been scanned. These are the so-called T/D (Tracing Document) files.

Involving about 60 million sheets of paper, the scanning of the correspondence files is the most extensive stage of the digitization project. People turned to the Tracing Service to search for family members, to gain information on the existing documents or to request documentation for compensation and pension applications. “Their letters combined with the information from the original documents enable a reconstruction of individual fates and offer information about the compensation policy of the Federal Republic of Germany,” said an ITS spokesperson. By agreement among the 11 countries that govern ITS, correspondence if less than 25 years ago is not available for privacy reasons.

Recipients of the data include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw, the Luxembourg Documentation and Research Centre on the Resistance, the Belgium and French state archives, as well as the Wiener Library in London. The documents may also be researched at ITS which is located in Bad Arolsen, Germany.

The International Tracing Service serves victims of Nazi persecution and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. The archive stores approximately 30 million documents on persecution, forced labor and emigration. ITS preserves these historic records and has made them available for research since November 2007. In May 2008, a group of 40 genealogists, led by Avotaynu co-owners Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus and Gary Mokotoff, became the first group to travel to Bad Arolsen to use the ITS archives.

Boston Conference Issues Call for Papers
The Program Committee of the 33rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy has issued a Call for Papers to be presented at the conference which will be held in Boston August 4–9, 2013. Information about submitting a proposal is at It describes suggested topics and the exact process for making a submission. The deadline is January 6, 2013.

The conference website,, already has a procedure for signing up for their Discussion List at; and registration costs and deadlines at Browse the entire site to get a flavor for what information is already there and what is planned.

More than 1,000 genealogists from 30+ countries are expected to attend this annual event.

Chanukah Sale – 25% Discount on Selected Books for Three Days Only
Chanukah is early this year. It starts the evening of December 7. For three days only—today through Tuesday, November 13, Avotaynu will offer selected books at a 25% discount. Here is an opportunity to acquire some of the greatest reference works for Jewish family history. When checking out, use the coupon code CHANUKAH. For any book described below, click “Order here” to place an order or get additional information such as Table of Contents and/or sample pages. The books are as follows:

Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. Award winning definitive book on Jewish family history research. Written by more than 60 authors, each an expert in their own field. Its more than 100 chapters cover all important aspects of the rich body of information available to do Jewish genealogical research. $85.00. $63.75. Order/Information here.

Where Once We Walked. Award winning gazetteer of 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. An additional 17,500 alternate names for these towns. $85.00. $63.75. Order/Information here.

Four Name Books Published by Avotaynu
   • A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, 2 vols. The book that introduced the world to Dr. Alexander Beider. More than 74,000 surnames in total plus a 200-page introductory portion that is the definitive work on the origin and evolution of Jewish surnames in Eastern Europe. $118.00. $88.50. Order/Information here.
   • A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. 25,000 different surnames used by Jews in Galicia. $85.00. $63.75. Order/Information here.
   • A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland. 32,000 Jewish surnames with origins in that part of the Russian Empire known as the "Kingdom of Poland." $69.50. $52.13. Order/Information here.
   • A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. 13,000 German-Jewish surnames from the area that was pre-World War I Germany. $89.00. $67.50. Order/Information here.
   • A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names. Identifies more than 15,000 given names derived from just 735 root names. The 300-page introductory portion was Dr. Beider’s Masters thesis at the Sorbonne.
$85.00. $63.75.  Order/Information here.

Every Family Has a Story. Human interest stories published in AVOTAYNU in the past 20 years—72 in all—about how genealogy affected people's lives. Excellent light—sometimes emotional—reading. A perfect gift for a friend or yourself. $37.00. $27.75. Order/Information here.

Jewish Personal Names. Roots of more than 1,200 Jewish given names showing Yiddish/Hebrew variants with English transliteration. $15.00. $11.25. Order/Information here.

The following books are regularly discounted.
Russian Jewish Given Names. Based on a book published in Russia in 1911, this work presents to the English-speaking reader a comprehensive collection of Jewish given names used in Russia at the turn of the 20th century--more than 6,000 names in all. $35.00. $19.95. Order/Information here.
Biography of Canadian Jewry. Births, bar mitzvahs, marriages and deaths, as well as information concerning communal and synagogue activities of Canadian Jewry. Taken from the pages of The Canadian Jewish Times. $35.00 $15.00. Order/Information here.

New Site Synchronizes Genealogical Databases
The concept of many computers wanting to share data is not new. The earliest solution was networking computers, that is, hooking them all up to each other with each having the ability to access the others’ data files. A more recent solution is Dropbox, which allows a user to create a special folder that is synchronized through the Internet with identical folders on other computers within the group. I use Dropbox heavily between my office and home computer. It allows me, for example, to work on the next issue of AVOTAYNU on either computer providing access to the latest version of the files. Prior to Dropbox, I would copy updated files onto a flash drive and download them to the other computer. This was very error prone. The latest concept is Cloud computing, where the data is on none of the computers, but instead is “up in the clouds” for all to use who are authorized to have access.

Now there is a genealogy package called AncestorSync that claims to have taken Dropbox/Cloud computing one step further. Different computers can share/update a common genealogical database but each need not be using the same software. One can be using Family Tree Maker, another RootsMagic, a third using Reunion on a Mac. It currently supports 11 of the more popular software systems, plus GEDCOM. The authors of the system state, “AncestorSync syncs your pedigree, sources, notes, media and everything else you expect between multiple computers. Edit on both computers and we'll merge the changes from both back together.”

AncestorSync also allows creation of “groups.” In this environment changes by one member of the group are not automatically updated in your version of the database. Instead the change is presented to you, and you decide whether to incorporate it.

The system is now in Beta test. Additional information can be found at

Map Generator
The website allows the user to create a map that includes pins that identify addresses of interest. For example, a map could be created that shows all the towns of ancestry for your family. Geographic identification can be as specific as a street address.

I found the site extremely cumbersome to use. It took many steps to create a single pin and the procedure was not intuitive. Others may find the application useful. It is located at

Jewish Museum of Tolerance Opens in Moscow
What has been dubbed the largest Jewish museum in the world, the Jewish Museum of Tolerance, has opened in Moscow. The museum covers 50,000 square feet (4,500 square meters) and includes an interactive center with a variety of changing exhibitions, a scientific center, children's center, and modern arts center. The cost of the museum is estimated at $60 million, and its sponsors include the World Zionist Congress and American businessman Ronald Lauder. Additional information can be found at,7340,L-4302834,00.html.

A Museum of the History of Polish Jews is scheduled to open in Warsaw next April. Its site is at

Ancestry Affiliates Providing Free Access to Military Records for Limited Time
November 11 is the day World War I ended and is known as Remembrance Day in British Commonwealth countries. In honor of Canadian Remembrance Day, is providing access to its military records at no charge through November 12. The collection includes some records of Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand. A complete list is at Access to the records is at Use of the free offer requires registration.

The UK affiliate,, is providing free access to British WWI Service, Pension and Medal Records, but they are part of the Canadian collection too.

The Australian affiliate,, is making a comparable offer but it ends today, Sunday, November 11, which in certain parts of the Nu? What’s New? readership will already be Monday, November 12.

There is no evidence the American parent company is making a comparable offer.

GenesReunited Adds UK Military Records
Also in conjunction with Remembrance Day, Genes Reunited has released a variety of military records taking its collection to 8.5 million. These include new WWI and WWII prisoner of war records. They detail the prisoner’s name, rank, regiment, camp number, camp type and camp location. Also added are Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service records from 1760–1913. Their site is at

Czernowitz Birth Records Indexed
More than 40,000 Jewish birth records (1877–1929) for Czernowitz (today Chernivtsi, Ukraine) have been indexed and are available at Each entry includes the name of the child, a parent, year of birth, volume, page and record number. The sources are microfilms at the Mormon Family History Library. Copies of the original can be gotten by ordering the microfilm through a Family History Center. A professional genealogist living in Salt Lake City will make a copy of the document for a fee. The site includes information about a number of other Czernowitz-related resources.

Scottish Wills and Testaments 1902–1925 Online
National Records of Scotland has placed online Wills and Testaments 1902–1925 at
its site The new records, 392,595 in total, document the last wishes of 267,548 individuals who lived and died in Scotland during this period. The collection also includes the wills of Scots who died outside Scotland, but still had assets in the country. People from all social classes are included in the records.

An Interesting Bit of Chanukah Trivia from Stephen P. Morse
Next year, the first day of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving Day. I (Stephen P. Morse) figured it would be interesting to find out when that happened before, and when will it happen again. The "When Did" tool in the Calendar section of my website ( is ideal for getting answers to questions like that. I decided to find out when the first day of Chanukah fell on Thanksgiving or earlier. So I went to the "When Did" tool and entered:

When did Thanksgiving (fall on any day of the week) and come between Kislev 25 and Elul 29

Kislev 25 is the first day of Chanukah, and Elul 29 is the end of the Hebrew year. I left the default year range of 1900 to 2099. The only result was November 28, 2013. I extended the year range forward, all the way up to the year 9999. There still was only one result. I then extended the year range backwards to 1800. Therer were several results in the 1800s, the last one being in 1899. So it did occur in the past, but less and less often as time went on. The last time it occurred was 113 years ago, long before any of us alive today were born. After next year it will never happen again. So as part of our Thanksgiving dinner next year we should all be prepared to light two candles, since the second day of Chanukah will be starting that evening.

Another interesting question to ask is whether we will ever again light Chanukah candles at our Thanksgiving dinner. As already mentioned, Thanksgiving will never again fall on or after the first day of Chanukah, so we will never again light two or more candles. But will Thanksgiving ever fall on the day before the first day of Chanukah, in which case we will light one candle during our Thanksgiving dinner.

Again, using the "When-Did" tool, I learned that the one-candle Thanksgiving will happen in the year 2070 and then again in 2165. But after that it will never happen again for all eternity. So after 2165, we will never again light Chanukah candles on Thanksgiving Day.

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 
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 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

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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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