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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 20 | May 19, 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
PBS To Air “Genealogy Roadshow”
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) will add a new series, “Genealogy Roadshow,” to its Fall lineup. Four programs are scheduled to air Mondays, September 23–October 14, 9–10 pm Eastern Time from Nashville, Austin, Detroit and San Francisco.

Experts in genealogy, history and DNA testing will use information provided by participants such as family heirlooms, letters, pictures, historical documents and other clues to hunt down information. These experts will enlist the help of local historians to add color and context to the investigations, ensuring every artifact and every name becomes a clue in solving the mystery.

Participants have not yet been chosen, so residents of Austin, Detroit, Nashville and San Francisco are invited to submit their personal stories that need solving.
“Genealogy Roadshow” is not a new concept. It has been on Irish television for some time. Additional information, including how to participate, can be found at

European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Adds New Tool
A new tool for researchers is now available on the website of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure. It is called “EHRI National Reports.” It provides for 47 countries an historical overview of the Holocaust period and a description of what archives in the country have Holocaust-related material. Finally, there are published works cited that provide information about the Holocaust period. A description of the project is at

JewishGen Memorial Plaque Project
JewishGen wants to grow its Memorial Plaque Project. This is a database primarily of plaques placed on a memorial board on synagogue walls. Also known as “yahrzeit plaques,” they exist to memorialize relatives, usually parents or siblings. On the anniversary of the person’s death (yahrzeit), the plaque is illuminated by two small lights on each side. The name is read to the congregation at the Sabbath service before the yahrzeit (reckoned by the Hebrew calendar). These plaques are of genealogical value because they usually include the name of the deceased, date of death reckoned by both the secular and Jewish calendars and the person’s religious name, which includes the name of the person’s father (above example: Chaim ben [son of] Meir.).

If you would like to submit files and or photos for a pre-conference Memorial Plaque Project update, the schedule is as follows:
   • May 15 – June 2. Accepting all files and emails.
   • June 3 – June 19. Black-out period. Do not send any photos or files. Emails will not be answered.
   • June 20 – June 23 Final chance to submit photos and files for pre-conference update.

Information on how to submit data can be found at The database is at

Book: Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents
Roger Minert, a professional genealogist who focuses on German research, has updated his book, Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Historical Manuscripts. The book includes a short history of handwriting styles in Germany; detailed separate methodologies for deciphering German, Latin, and French vital records; a computerized alphabet for old German characters; and the application of the reverse alphabetical index in the deciphering process.

Other features of this revised and expanded Second Edition are:
   • In-depth examinations of the Fraktur, Gothic, and Latin alphabets
   • Extensive techniques for analyzing texts
   • 44 new documents from many subject areas
   • Nearly 200 sample texts from genuine historical documents
   • A new computer font more closely resembling the handwriting of original documents
   • Lists of genealogical terms in German, Latin, and French (both alphabetical and reverse alphabetical)

The book can be ordered from Family Roots Publishing for $27.44 plus shipping. The site is

MyHeritage Introduces “Record Detective”
MyHeritage has added a feature to their record search capability called “Record Detective.” As described by them, when you identify a record of interest in their collection of historical records, Record Detective will provide a summary of additional records in their collection about the person, or about people related to that person. This can be either a bane or a blessing in your research. For the more advanced researcher, the feature would be a disadvantage, because it will make the person aware of records s/he already knows of. For example, locating a person in the 1940 U.S. census might produce a result showing that the person was also found in the 1930 and 1920 censuses. The reaction of the advanced researcher might be that the records are known, yet it might be new information to the beginner.

Information about the feature can be found at

Site Provides Pictorial History of Vilna Ghetto
A new website,, provides a history of the Vilna (Vilnius, Lithuania) ghetto from its creation in September 1941 to its liquidation in September 1943. A map identifies more than two hundred points of historical significance, includes hundreds of photographs, and includes narratives on such subjects as Judenrat, Life in the Ghetto, Resistance, Art & Culture, and Health & Education. One of the participants in the project is YIVO Institute. Offers Access to Its Military Records at No Charge
In honor of U.S. Memorial Day, is providing access to its 26 million U.S. and international military records at no charge from Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27. Access to the records requires registration. Normally the company provides records on a paid subscription basis or pay-as-you-go.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Italy, Peru, South Africa, Spain and the U.S. states of Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington. Few have relevance to Jewish family history research, but it takes only a few moments to browse the list to see if there is an item of interest.

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

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages 
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 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

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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