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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 8 | February 23, 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
FTDNA Offers 12-Marker Y-DNA Test for Only $39
For a limited, undisclosed, time, Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) is offering its 12-marker Y-DNA test for only $39. The 12-marker test is ordinarily not promoted by the company, and its regular price is $99. Persons who suspect kinship between two families, but cannot prove it through records, should take advantage of this low price. Based on personal experience, it is insufficient to prove kinship but will prove that two people do not have a common male line.

Some years ago, I was researching my mother’s father’s family: Tartasky (Tartacki in Polish). All persons found with that surname had ancestors that came from the same area in western Belarus, but records could not be found to link the families. I spent hundreds of dollars to test the four families named Tartasky using FTDNA’s then least-cost Y-DNA service. It demonstrated that the families were not related. This could be accomplished today for only $156.

Had the 12-marker test demonstrated matches between two of the families, it would have been insufficient to prove kinship and more markers would have been tested, but the 12-marker test is a good inexpensive entry point.

FTDNA is also working to lower the cost of their mtDNA test, which is used to confirm/deny common maternal ancestry. The company expects to unveil new pricing for this test in spring 2013.

The announcement can be found at

JewishGen Announces Canada Database
JewishGen has developed a “JewishGen Canada Database” located at Containing nearly 250,000 records, the database searches all of JewishGen's records for Canada, as well as external databases from the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network. Components of the JewishGen Canada Database” include:
   • JewishGen Family Finder. More than 3,800 surnames/Canadian towns being researched by family historians throughout the world
   • JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). 168,000 records of Jewish burials in Canadian cemeteries
   • JewishGen Memorial Plaques Database. Information from synagogue yahrzeit plaques.
   • Canadian Jewish Heritage Network. More than 67,000 records from Canadian Jewish archival sources
   • Montreal Jewish General Hospital Archives. More than 4,000 records, such as contribution cards from 1929.

There also has been a major update to the JewishGen InfoFile “Guide to Canadian Jewish Genealogical Research,” compiled by Bruce Brown, located at

Book Hotel Room Now for Boston Conference
Conference planners for the annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy are recommending that you book your hotel room now. They state there is a significant chance that the hotel will sell out. Two-thirds of the rooms set aside for the conference have already been reserved. Make your reservation through The conference is being held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel from August 4–9.

Establish New York State Genealogical Research Death Index (1957–1962)
The New York State Department of Health has online a “Genealogical Research Death Index” for the period January 1, 1957, through November 10, 1962, that now contains 547,282 records. Information includes name, age, date of death and town of residence. Provision is made for father’s last name and maiden name of the mother, but none of the records include this information. It does not appear to include New York City.

Access to it is not simple. First go to and search for “Genealogical Research Death Index.” Clicking the icon at the extreme right will download a zip file that contains six files. The last file, in CSV format, contains the data. When I clicked on the file name, Microsoft Excel opened the file with a warning that the entire file was not downloaded. Only the first 65,536 were included, the maximum file size for Excel 2003. Saving the file and then importing it to Microsoft Access worked. This problem does not exist with Excel 2007.

IAJGS Achievement Awards Call for Nominations
The 2013 Achievement Awards Committee of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) is accepting nominations for their annual Achievement Awards. Deadline is April 17. Nominations can only be made by a member society, not individuals or other organizations. The four awards are presented at the annual IAJGS conference being held this year in Boston. They are:
   • IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award
   • Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy Via the Internet, Print or Electronic Product
   • Outstanding Programming or Project That Advanced the Objectives of Jewish Genealogy
   • Outstanding Publication by a Member Organization of IAJGS

Details on each award, information on the nomination process, and listings of previous winners can be found at Individuals are encouraged to contact IAJGS member societies, suggesting worthy recipients. A list of the 72 organizations in 14 countries that make up the IAJGS is at

Call for Obermayer Award Nominations
The German Jewish Community History Council, JewishGen’s Ger-SIG and the Berlin Parliament have announced their Call for Nominations for the annual Obermayer German Jewish History Awards to be given to non-Jewish Germans who have made extraordinary contributions to preserving vestiges of former Jewish life in their local communities, including historical records, cultural material, cemeteries and synagogues. Information is located at Deadline for submission is September 23, 2013.

This will be the 14th year for such awards, which will be given January 2014 in Berlin. Each awardee and his/her spouse will be invited on an all expenses paid trip to Berlin to receive the award at the elegant Plenary Chamber of the Abgeordnetenhaus, home of the Berlin Parliament. Successful nominators are also invited to attend all of the award ceremony events in Berlin, where they will meet with the award recipients they have chosen to honor. Honorees receive a framed certificate and an honorarium to be used for the furtherance of their work.

Information about the award, including a list of previous award winners and the jury, is at

Connecticut Considering Ban on Access to Death Records
Reacting to attempts by the public to access the death records of the 20 children and six adults shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Connecticut state legislature is considering a bill that would restrict public access to the records for any children under age 18. Specifically, the proposed law states that the copy of the public record could be restricted “when the disclosure of the death certificate is likely to cause undue hardship for the family of the child.” Playing the identify theft card, one town official proposed to the legislature that the general public should be denied access to all death certificates. The article, which appeared in the Hartford Courant can be found at

Family History Library To Be Closed Saturday Evenings
Starting April 13, the Family History Library Saturday operating hours will change to 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A spokesperson stated that the change in hours will better allocate resources that were being spent on low-traffic hours late Saturday evening. “This change is being made so that valuable staff and volunteer resources can be allocated to other busier times during the week that have greater patron demand,” said Don Anderson, director of the Family History Library. “This change will facilitate better service to patrons during the high-demand hours.”

I have done research at the Library located in Salt Lake City every year for more than 20 years and have found that any evening is the best time to avoid the crowds.

Avotaynu Renewal
Another reminder that when you receive your copy of the Winter issue of AVOTAYNU, if your subscription is about to expire, there is a yellow renewal form included with the issue. Select a one-, two- or three-year renewal by the March 15 deadline and participate in a contest whose prize is a copy of any book published by Avotaynu.

A Must for Your Family History Research!!
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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