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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 5 | February 3, 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
An Amazing Internet Conversation
Recently I had an amazing conversation on Skype with a woman who lives in Poland regarding a project she is doing to commemorate the Jews of the town of Przedecz. What was amazing was that she does not speak English and I do not speak Polish. We communicated using Google Translate ( Google Translate has an option to listen to the translation. I typed my words in English and clicked the speaker icon on the Polish side, allowing her to hear in Polish what I had to say. She then typed her response in Polish and clicked the speaker icon on the English side giving a verbal translation to what she said. Through Skype, we heard each other’s words in our native language.

Online List of Foreign Jews Interned in Italy (1940–1943)
Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea (CDEC) has placed online an “Index of Foreign Jews Interned In Italy 1940–1943.” It is located at When Italy entered WWII in 1940, its Ministry of Interior ordered foreign Jews to be arrested and interned. A 1938 law had ordered most of them to be expelled within six months, but many stayed because they lacked visas or money to pay for the journey. Internment concerned German and Polish Jews as well as Jews from other Central European countries and those who were stateless.

The index contains more than 15,000 entries. It can be searched alphabetically or through a search engine. Initial results include name and date/place of birth. In reality it is a joint index for two different projects, one by Anna Pizzuti, the other by Francesca Cappella. Clicking on the Data Source field provides additional information from the Pizzuti database including last place of internment, names of family members and nationality. For four days prior to publishing this edition I tried to connect to the Cappella site with no luck.

The site is in Italian or English. Additional information about the history of the internments can be found at

FamilySearch Partners with WorldCat Developers
Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and FamilySearch have signed an agreement for the two organizations to share their catalog data. Under this new partnership, OCLC will incorporate data from FamilySearch’s Family History Library Catalog into their WorldCat system, and FamilySearch will use OCLC data to enhance the FamilySearch catalog. According to Jake Gehring, FamilySearch’s Director of Data Operations, WorldCat will include the contents for all their collections on any media, including books, serials, maps, microfilms, microfiche, digital collections, etc. He also indicated it has not yet been determined what form genealogical and historical catalog records from OCLC will take at

Gehring also noted that some Family History Centers are creating computerized databases of their local book holdings. These databases will be incorporated into the FamilySearch central database, which will then find its way to WorldCat. About 40–50 percent of the book collections in the larger centers are not held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

For those unfamiliar with WorldCat (, it is a consolidated index to the collections of many libraries throughout the world. It can be used to determine the closest library that has a particular book. For example, searching for Avotaynu’s gazetteer Where Once We Walked and indicating your location is “France,” produces results that a copy is at Bibliothèque nationale de France. Canadian and U.S. locations can use zip/postal codes. WorldCat can also be searched by topic. Searching for information about the Jews of Warka, Poland, using the search words “Warka Jewish” produces 19 results including the yizkor book, a Holocaust testimony and others. Clicking on any result will show the nearest locations where the item can be found.

The partnership announcement is at

Museum of the History of Polish Jews To Open in April
On April 19, the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw will open its doors to the public. The installation of the Core Exhibition will still be underway, but the museum’s offer on opening day will include temporary exhibitions, panel discussions, films, plays, concerts, and activities for children and adults alike.

The Museum is sporting a new logo (shown to the right). The Latin letter “P” has been combined with the Hebrew פ (pei), symbolically intertwining Polish and Jewish history; “P” for “Polska, the Polish word for Poland,” and “pei” (פ) for “Polin,” the Hebrew word for Poland. The font used for the Hebrew letter is called “Chaim,” and is shown at the left.

The museum expects to become Europe’s largest Jewish history museum and an institution that will “take its place alongside the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as one of the most important institutions of its kind.” The museum’s website is at There is a monthly newsletter which can be subscribed to at

News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focused on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at A login is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at

German SIG. The Berlin State Archives (Landesarchiv Berlin) has started a project to create an online database for the records of the Berlin restitution offices. There are more than 800,000 files of which 5,000 records have been placed online from cards with names starting with the letter A. According to the posting on the Ger-SIG Digest, the Berlin restitution offices were in charge of resolving restitution claims in West-Berlin on the basis of the Berlin Restitution Order of 1949. In 1957 the Federal Restitution Law included also property confiscated or acquired by the Reich, the NSDAP, and the state of Prussia or other Nazi institutions. Details can be found at The site is in German or English. Diacritic marks are a requirement. The surname Abloser yielded no results, but Ablöser had results. Information includes names of claimant and injured party, and sometimes the birth date and address of claimant.

Latvia SIG. Forty Latvian directories from the Latvian National Digital Library ( have been added to the search engine at The directories can be searched at either site but by using the GenealogyIndexer one has advantages of soundex, automatic Latin to Cyrillic transliteration, and other special search features. Search results link directly to images on the Latvian National Digital Library's website.

Litvak (Lithuania) SIG. A Facebook site has pre-World War II photos of towns at, probably more than 15,000. Some are group photos of people. The site is very difficult to maneuver. Each initial photo identifies the town represented and the total number of photos in the particular collection. Placing your mouse over the picture provides a five-picture slide show of part of the collection. Clicking on the photo displays all photos. One clearly Jewish photo is from Utena; it shows a group of individuals with a sign in front of them with a Jewish star and an inscription in Lithuanian and Hebrew. The problem is that it was not displayed in the Utena collection but was discovered by accident by clicking the “Photos” link of Facebook. Another clearly Jewish photo found was the “Jewish People’s Bank” in Kedainiai.

IIJG Planning Genealogical Advisory Service
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) is planning to start a Genealogical Advisory Service in mid-April 2013 at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. The service initially will be available two days a week and will be staffed primarily by volunteers from the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA), backed up by professional staff from the Library itself.

The service will address the growing number of genealogical inquiries from visitors to the Library. Besides responding to specific questions, the service will offer advice to family historians and others on how to set about their quest, and also advise where to find relevant materials and collections in the Library and elsewhere.

Valery Bazarov Retires from HIAS
Valery Bazarov has retired as Director of the Family History & Location Service of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). For more than 100 years HIAS has assisted Jewish immigrants to relocate in the United States, and Bazarov’s role was to process inquiries—often from genealogists—inquiring whether HIAS had a case file about a specific individual or family upon arrival in the U.S.

Bazarov is a friend of Jewish genealogy. He wrote numerous articles for AVOTAYNU about HIAS records. Probably the most fascinating and informative were those he co-wrote with Marian L. Smith of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These articles described how HIAS case files and USCIS records told the total picture of some Jewish family’s relocation to the U.S. and the outcome of their immigration. One of most unusual cases appeared in Avotaynu’s book about how genealogy affected people’s lives: Every Family Has a Story. It involved a Jewish family who arrived at Ellis Island from South Africa. Authorities were suspicious because two of the children in this family were black.

Bazarov joined HIAS in 1988. Through the following decade, he assisted in the arrival of more than 200,000 Jewish refugees who came to the United States under HIAS’ auspices. Being Russian-born and the fact that many of Jewish immigrants ware from Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union made him a valuable asset to HIAS.

His role at HIAS will be taken over by his associate, Sherly Postnikov.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at They include records from
Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Netherlands (church records) and the U.S. States of Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma as well as Service Records for the Confederate Navy/Marines and the Mexican War.

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.

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

Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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