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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 50 | December 16, 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.

Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at
Israel Genealogy Research Association Has New Search Engine
The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) website has a new search engine providing greater flexibility to accessing the more than 100,000 records at their site. It can be found at Searches can be done in English, Hebrew (there is a virtual keyboard) or a combination. There is a Names Thesaurus enabling you to receive options you may not have considered checking. For example, when searching for Rebecca Levy, results included Rivka Levy. Filter options allow limiting the search to a specific area or areas. You must be registered (free) in order to access that page.

IGRA has compiled a wide variety of databases based on information in libraries, archives and collections. All of their databases deal with people who had some connection to Israel from the Ottoman, British or Israeli Administration.

The new search engine was developed with the assistance of Brooke Schreir Ganz who developed the Gesher Galicia site search engine. Ganz won Second Place in the RootsTech 2012 Developer Challenge Award for creating LeafSeek, a system that helps turn genealogical or historical record collections into searchable online databases. It had its origins in the work she did for the All-Galicia Database.

Finding Aid for Toronto Census of 1911
A few years ago AVOTAYNU Book Review editor, Bill Gladstone, developed a website containing useful and background information about the Jewish presence in Toronto. It is located at He regularly adds items to the site.

His latest addition is a finding aid to the 1911 Canadian census for the area of Toronto that was heavily populated by Jews. It is located at The “Street Guide to the Jewish of Toronto in the Canadian Census of 1911” offers researchers a way of finding relatives in the 1911 census who do not turn up in a nominal search at As the article explains: “Frequently the problem occurs because a family name is terribly misspelled in the index due to messy handwriting, or due to a faded, smeared or otherwise illegible census page.”

The Street Guide allows researchers to find a family using the street address alone, something you cannot do at Ancestry or on the Library and Archives Canada website where the 1911 census is also accessible. Essentially it lists each page of the census in the Toronto area, shows the addresses on the page, and gives a rough indication as to how many Jewish families were living there. The Street Guide includes a street map of Toronto ca. 1911 (many of the streets have changed and some no longer exist) as well as a sketch map of the various electoral districts at the time.

If you want read a taste of what Jewish life was like in Canada in the early part of the 20th century, visit the site. There are numerous articles gleaned from this period. Examples from 1909 indicate that the Toronto police raided the National Matzo and Biscuit Company because they were operating on Sunday. Also there is a list of European Jews seeking relatives in Canada, 1922.

Importance of Town Leaders
In the past I have discussed the importance of volunteering to help grow Special Interest Groups (SIGs), organizations that focus on genealogical needs primarily by country of ancestry. Equally important is that many of these SIGs have subdivisions by town of ancestry.

For example, Chuck Weinstein, Towns and Districts Director for the Ukraine SIG, notes in a recent posting to their Discussion Group that they now have 172 Town Leaders. However, many larger towns, he says, do not have anyone who has volunteered to lead the effort to find and digitize records of people who lived and died there. In order to get these records online, Ukraine SIG needs Town Leaders, people who are willing to help organize researchers to enter data into spreadsheets, transliterate either printed or cursive Russian into English, and to contribute to KehilaLinks (town) pages on JewishGen. To help the Ukraine SIG by becoming a Town Leader, contact Weinstein at

This is not a problem peculiar to the Ukraine effort. A list of SIGs can be found at Link to the country/countries of your ancestry to determine how you can volunteer to assist in growing the online information about your towns of ancestry.

Fold3 Has Navy Muster Rolls (1939–1949)
If you have relatives that served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Fold3 is adding to its collection “Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Other Naval Activities, compiled 01/01/1939 – 01/01/1949.” These are reports of enlisted personnel formally attached to ships, stations, or other commands (known as “activities”). To date more than 70,000 images are available online at This represents only about four percent of the rolls and the amount is growing daily.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at They include records from Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States. Note that at the website announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. Also note that counts shown are the number added, not the total number available in the collection.

New records include Estonia, Population Registers, 1918–1944 images appear to be complete; Czech Republic, Okres District, Censuses, 1843–1921 images; images of Northern District (Eastern Division), Naturalization Index, 1926–1979 now complete through the letter “N” and partially the letter “O.”; Indiana, Marriages, 1811–1959 index now 82% complete;

Contribute to Genealogy Causes
It is getting near the end of the year which is a good time for Americans to evaluate whether they have made tax-deductible contributions for 2012 to worthy genealogy causes. My two favorite are JewishGen and the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.

JewishGen. We all use JewishGen throughout the year. We subscribe to its Discussion Groups, are members of its Special Interest Groups, check the JewishGen Family Finder from time to time to see if any new listings involve your research areas. On occasion we use the Jewish Community Finder when we come across a new town whose location is unknown to us. When there is a document in a language we do not understand, we post it to Viewmate so a volunteer can translate it. We take advantage of the 20 million records JewishGen currently hosts and view many of its 70,000 web pages.

Do we contribute monetarily to its sustainment and growth?

If you have not made your annual contribution to JewishGen, do it now on its JewisGen-erosity page at Consider contributing $100 for the year. If you do, you are entitled to Value Added Services described at

International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG). Not every worthwhile genealogy organization produces instant gratification in the area of your personal family history research. The primary goals of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy are two-fold:
   • To advance the academic status of Jewish Genealogy within the field of Jewish Studies through research and teaching at the university level;
   • To contribute to Jewish continuity on the premise that knowledge of one’s roots helps assure a Jewish future.

In a very short period of time, the Institute has made tangible progress in pursuing its goals at both the scholarly and broader Jewish levels. It has:
   • participated in international Jewish Studies conferences to promote family history as an academic discipline.
   • developed innovative tools and technologies, specifically designed for the Jewish family historian
   • elaborated Academic Guidelines” for BA and MA courses in Jewish genealogy
   • carried out many ground-breaking research projects.
Actually, there has already been tangible value of general use from IIJG projects.

The Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System was a direct result of an ongoing IIJG project.

Contribute to IIJG at

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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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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