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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 46 | November 18, 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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Shoah Foundation Places More Information About Survivors on Internet
The Shoah Foundation has placed on the Internet information about the tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors they have interviewed. This includes date/place of birth and names of people mentioned in the interview with relationship to interviewee. The names of people were extracted from the interview itself. Disclosed are names of spouses (inferring number of times married), parents, siblings, children, etc. Biographical information includes pre- and post-war religious identity. One woman listed her pre-war religious identity as Jewish and post-war as atheist. Other data made public at the website are personal photographs provided by the Holocaust survivor at time of interview.

Most of these interviews were made in the early or pre-Internet days. One survivor told me her motivation for giving the interview was that the Shoah Foundation, at that time, stated the purpose was to counter the claims of Holocaust deniers by getting personal testimony of what happened to the survivor and her family. She was well aware that her interview would be made available to the public at selected facilities throughout the world but was upset that now personal information about her life was being made available instantly to billions of people. She stated that she found it distasteful that she was told the purpose of the interview was to counter Holocaust deniers and now is being used for another purpose without her permission. Renee Steinig notes in a posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group: “Using these new searches, I was able to identify two distant relatives whose connection to my family was not apparent from the old Testimony [Shoah Foundation] Catalogue.”

The database can be found at

This circumstance brings up the never-ending controversy of privacy versus public good. The interview described above was given with the understanding it would be used to fight Holocaust deniers. Now it is being used without permission of the interviewee to reunite families by disclosing information some interviewees consider private.

Judaica Europeana Revisited
A posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group about Judaica Europeana suggested that I revisit the site located at whose existence was announced in the December 26, 2010, of Nu? What’s New?. At that time it was a startup effort with plans to document the Jewish presence and heritage in the cities of Europe. It then had online 10,500 photos, 1,500 postcards and 7,150 recordings as well as several million pages from books, newspapers, archives and press clippings. Judaica Europeana now boasts 3,611,000 pages from books, newspapers and archives; 62,000 photographs, postcards and museum objects; 23,000 sound files of music and oral history; and 2,000 moving image files. Originally there were 10 partners in the project. Now there are 30. The site is worth browsing for good background information about various aspects of Jewish life in Europe.

Another Chanukah Present to Nu? What’s New? Readers
There was such great interest in the offer we made last week to purchase certain books at a substantial discount that we have decided to make a more global Chanukah present to our readers. Until Erev Chanukah (December 8), the items we offer—BOOKS ONLY—are available at a discount according to the following schedule:
   • Purchases more than $50 – 10% discount
   • Purchases more than $200 – 15% discount
   • Purchase more than $300 – $20% discount

When you check out, just use the Discount Code SPECIAL and enjoy the benefits. Order now!

The offer will be discontinued end of day December 8. Remember, the discount does not apply to subscriptions to our journal, AVOTAYNU, Nu? What’s New?, or a subscription for online access to Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy—which consists of all back issues of AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011 including a Google Custom Search engine. View our more than 50 books at

FamilyTreeDNA Offers End-of-Year Discounts
 FamilyTreeDNA is starting its end-of-year discounts early this year. From now until December 31, its entire product line is discounted, both new kits and upgrades. Typical are new kit costs:
   Y-DNA 37  $169  $119
   Y-DNA 67  $268  $199
   mtDNAPlus  $159  $139
   Family Finder  $289  $199

Visit their site at to order new kits or upgrades. Adds Military Burials and Headstone Applications has added to its site “U.S. Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862–1960” and “U.S. Headstone Applications, 1925–1963.” The first, located at contains about 556,000 records. The second, located at has about 1.9 million records. The complete announcement is at

"Who Do You Think You Are? Live" Conference to be Held February 22–24
Tickets are now on sale for the next “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” Conference to be held February 22–24, 2013, at the Olympia exhibition and conference centre in London. Cost is £30 for the three-day event with lower prices for daily or two-day participation. This biggest family history event in the world typically attracts more than 10,000 people. Additional information, including the program, sponsors and exhibitors is at

Mark Your Calendar: November 23, 79043
In the last issue of Nu? What’s New? Stephen P. Morse noted that next year the first day of Chanukah and Thanksgiving Day coincide, and this will not occur again through the year 9999. In subsequent e-mails, Morse explained this applies only through the year 9999. There is a slow drift between the Hebrew and secular (Gregorian) calendars amounting to one day every 217 years. So in about 80,000 years it will drift by one full year, and we will be back to where we started. At that point, we once again will be lighting Chanukah candles at our Thanksgiving dinner. This drift is covered by Morse in his paper at

For only two years in the immediate future will you light the first candle of Chanukah on Thanksgiving night: 2070 and 2165. Thereafter, Morse states, you will have to wait until November 23, 79043 for the two calendars to match up.

This posed all other kinds of other trivia questions. When will Erev Chanukah and Erev Christmas (Chanukah and Christmas Eve) occur on the same day in this century? Answer: 2016, 2027 and 2072. Given this calendar drift, assuming there is no redesign of the secular or Hebrew calendars, I posed to Morse when will Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, coincide with the secular New Year’s Day? His answer is January 1, 22203 = Tishri 1, 25963, which, Morse states, will be a Saturday.

All these calculations, through the secular year 9999, can be made at Morse’s “When Did” site at

Program Downloads Batches of FamilySearch Images
A student at Brigham Young University has created software called FastFilm that permits downloading to your computer batches of digital images from the Family Search collection. The procedure to make the software operational is located at It includes a video with instructions, but I found it too technical to understand.

On the assumption I used it properly, the system is very poorly designed and offers little advantage over just using the capability of FamilySearch. It downloads each image of the batch into a separate JPG image named “img_nnnnnn.jpg” where “nnnnnn” is a consecutive number. I downloaded two batches, and the second batch overlaid the first destroying the contents of the first batch. Therefore, if you elect to use this software, be sure to have separate directories for each batch. Unless you have software that treats images in a slide-show manner, browsing consecutive records among the JPGs means opening and closing separate JPG images. At the FamilySearch site, you need only click the “next” or “back” icons to retrieve consecutive images.

Advantages of FastFilm, in my opinion, are:
   • The images are permanently in your computer. You did not have to go back to FamilySearch to retrieve a given batch of records.
   • Opening individual JPGs with graphic software might be faster than downloading images from the Internet.

The procedure to make it operational is lengthy:
   • On the above-named web page, click “If you are not sure if you have Java installed, click here.” This will confirm that you have the latest version of the software. If not, follow the user-friendly process to install Java.
   • Create in your computer a directory named FastFilm where you want the software to reside.
   • Click “Extract Zip file to a good location” which will start the process to extract the software application. During the unzipping, change the directory where the results are to be stored to the FastFilm directory just created.
   • To download a batch of FamilySearch images, find an image of interest at FamilySearch. Note that any image on FamilySearch presents the image number and total number of images in the batch. For example, the batch Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895-1980 > Szabolcs > Levelek > Deaths (Halottak) 1895–1906 contains 385 images. FastFilm will download all these images, which might take some time.
   • Change the image number to 1, if not already that value, and click “Go.”
   • Go to the FastFilm directory and double click FastFilm.jar. This will open a window that will ask for the URL identifying the data to be downloaded. Paste the URL of Image 1 into the FastFilm window and click OK
   • This will now request where you want the download to be located.
   • After directing FastFilm to the directory where the data should be stored, click “Open.” This will initiate the download.
   • Upon completion, this will create, in the case of the Hungarian example above, 385 JPGs in the directory.

Thanks to Brooke Schreier Ganz of Los Angeles for the lead.

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

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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

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