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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 3 | January 20, 2013

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
YIVO Launches Online Guide to Its Archives
YIVO Institute has launched an online guide to its archives at The new site expands and upgrades the original Guide to the YIVO Archives, published in book form in 1998. The website provides information and facilitates access to YIVO’s vast archives of about 23 million documents, manuscripts, photographs, films, sound recordings, art works and artifacts. The institute holds materials about Jewish life around the world, with special focus on Jewish life in Eastern Europe, Yiddish language, literature and culture, the Holocaust and its aftermath, and Jewish life in the United States with emphasis on the period of migration. YIVO is currently carrying out Phase II of the online guide, adding new collections and databases to the website. It is scheduled for completion at the end of 2013. As part of its long term vision for the website, YIVO plans to progressively expand the online guide to include a portal to digitized YIVO photographs, documents, films, art works and sound recordings. The announcement can be found at

Registration for Boston Conference Now Open
Registration is now open for the 33rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel from August 4–9, 2013. As is traditional, there are early registration discounts. Register by April 30 and the cost is $280 and $180 for spouse/domestic partner. Thereafter, it is $320/$220 and onsite registration is $350/$250. Registration information is at

Incredible Research Opportunities at Annual Conferences
 I tell people that if the annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy was held in Nome, Alaska, it still would be worthwhile attending. That is because of the incredible collection of lectures, meetings and opportunities to network which are sufficient reasons to make attending any of the conferences worthwhile.

When you add to it the research opportunities, it is yet another reason to attend. The planned venues for the next few years are quite remarkable in opportunities to do research.

Boston 2013. As a major city of the U.S., Boston includes the New England Archives the American Jewish Historical Society; Regional Federal Records Center of the National Archives Record Administration (NARA); one of the largest genealogy libraries in the world, New England Historic Genealogical Society; and a major library, Boston Public Library. A bit of a drive (about two hours) is the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. Check these facilities’ websites to get a flavor for their collections.

Salt Lake City 2014. Home of the largest genealogy library in the world, the Family History Library, whose collections contain 3.5 billion names, 2.4 million rolls of microfilm and 278,000 books.

Jerusalem 2015. Here is the chance to meet those Israeli relatives you correspond with but have never met. Facilities include the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, Israel State Archives, Yad Vashem, Central Zionist Archives.

Eastern Europe 2018 (tentative). What a great opportunity to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors if you are of Central or Eastern European ancestry by attending the 2016 conference which will likely be held either in Warsaw, Poland, or Vilnius, Lithuania. What a great opportunity to visit the archives that contain the records of your ancestors and browse the collections, hands on, instead of using an intermediary to do your research.

JDC Places 1,100 Records Online
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has placed online more than 1,100 records from their New York Archives from 1933 through the end of WWII. Glancing through the description of the first 30 items and viewing a few of them, there are none that are genealogically significant because they contain no names. Some may contain background information that would be historically significant to genealogists. They are mostly reports of the condition of Jews in a specific area at the time of writing. A typical title of a document is “Cover Letter from Morris Troper, Paris, to Joseph Hyman, NY, with enclosed report on ‘Status of Refugee Problems in Poland,’ 6/27/1939.”

Access to the collection is at There is an Advanced Search facility link on the page. I could not get the Advanced Search to work with Firefox but it did work with Internet Explorer.

The “Joint” is an international relief and rescue organization established in 1914 that focuses on Jews who are in trouble. Its archives contain more than 500,000 names and 100,000 photographs.

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this week. It is our annual “human interest” issue which, in addition to regular research-oriented articles, includes stories about how genealogy has affected people’s lives. Consequently, rather than the usual 68 pages, this issue has 84 pages.

Among the research-oriented articles are ones on Ukraine, DNA analysis, online newspapers and books, and the U.S. National Archives naturalization correspondence collection. My favorite articles in this category are the “Jews of…” series that appear from time to time. You would think that in the 28 years of publishing AVOTAYNU, we would have covered every country, but apparently there never has been an article on “The Jews of Lebanon,” which appears in this issue. I found the article fascinating.

Human interest articles include those on a great-uncle who was an arsonist, memorializing Holocaust victims’ families with tombstones, locating the grave of a great-grandfather in an abandoned Jewish cemetery in Hungary, and a man’s return to Judaism after determining his mother was adopted at birth and his birth grandmother was Jewish.

All told there are 20 articles plus our regular columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask the Experts and Book Reviews. The Table of Contents can be found at You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at There is a special 5-issue offer which includes the Winter issue plus all issues for 2013.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at They include records from Australia, BillionGraves, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Spain, 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, which may be greater.

Among the new indexes or digitized records are the addition of more than 1.7 million records to the existing index of “Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592–1910”; Indiana and Ohio marriage indexes; and Index to Passenger Arrivals, Atlantic and Gulf Ports, 1820-1874 (excludes New York). (short for “Journal Storage”) contains digitized issues and full-text searches of 15,000 books and journals from academic presses and scholarly publishers. Usual access is through one of the more than 10,000 subscribing institutions throughout the world. Glancing at the list for New Jersey (149 subscribers) it includes educational institutions, libraries and hospitals. Israel has 61 subscribing institutions. You can search the list at I found that the function on the page to limit the list to a specific geographic area did not work with Firefox. I used Internet Explorer.

You can search from your own computer at This provides as a preview the first page of the article that contains the keyword(s). Up to three items may be stored for online viewing. Alternately you can purchase a download. Registration is required.

I searched for my ancestral surnames and got no results. The name “Mokotoff” produced 102 results. All seemed to be scholarly papers written by cousins. Searching for ancestral towns produced many results but it was difficult—for me—to determine if they were genealogically relevant.

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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 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

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