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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 25 | June 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
Lo Tishkach European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative Partners with VAAD of Ukraine
Beginning in early June, the VAAD (Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities) of Ukraine will start surveying Jewish cemeteries in the regions of L’viv and Poltava oblast. Data and thousands of photographs from these surveys of more than 300 sites undertaken by Lo Tishkach European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (LT) in Ukraine will be processed and uploaded to the LT database, and published by the end of 2013 in both English and Russian. Information about the project is at

Since 2009, the Centre for Jewish Education in Ukraine has surveyed Kiev, Cherkasy and Zakarpattia oblasts as well as acting as a research and training resource for similar LT projects in Chernihiv, Dniepropetrovsk, Kharkov and Odessa oblasts and in the Baltic States.

LT has now identified more than 11,000 European cemeteries and mass graves in its database located at

“Lo Tishkach” is Hebrew for “do not forget.”

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Wants Genealogist Input
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is conducting a survey to assist it in assessing user experiences at institutions that hold Holocaust-related material. The goal is to improve access for all users, including scholars, educators, genealogists, museum professionals, and lay researchers. It will focus on the legal, physical, and material obstacles that confront scholars and researchers who utilize Holocaust-relevant documentation.

The survey is at:

More information about the IHRA can be found at

Christine Usdin z”l
When you read that the Jewish vital records of an entire country are being indexed, you envision a cast of volunteers, perhaps hundreds, working on the project. It is hard to believe that one person, Christine Usdin of France, singlehandedly has been extracting Latvian vital records for a number of years, posting to the JewishGen Latvia SIG Discussion Group, sometimes daily, her latest accomplishment. Usdin extracted the Russian-language records, and Martha Lev Zion of Israel verified the accuracy by reading the Hebrew portion of the entry. Usdin died June 10 leaving a large vacuum in Latvian extraction work.

In March 2011, Usdin admitted to me that the number of records she had indexed to date exceeded 100,000. A list of her efforts can be found at

A typical message by Usdin on the Latvia Discussion Group was:

Date: Tue, 8 Nov 2011 12:46:24 +0100
From: christine usdin

Subject: Birth records Riebini from 1882 to 1891
Christine Usdin

The very next day, she posted:
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2011 22:23:20 +0100
From: christine usdin

Subject: Birth records Riebini from 1898 to 1905
All the Riebini records have been translated.
Among the Riebini records, I found the 1885 birth records for Rezekne.
I'll start to translate them.
Christine Usdin

Her last posting was on May 12, 2013. It read:
Subject: Riga 1877 Birth records and the 1897 Census, Part 18
From: christine usdin

Date: Sun, 12 May 2013 14:06:13 +0200
X-Message-Number: 1
Christine Usdin

New Book: Selected Lectures on Genealogy: An Introduction to Scientific Tools
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy is marketing a book, Selected Lectures on Genealogy: An Introduction to Scientific Tools. Edited by Professor H. Daniel Wagner of the Weizmann Institute of Science and member of the IIJG General Assembly, it is primarily designed as a introductory guide in the form of a collection of basic articles written by different individuals and can be used as a reference to find scientific methods suitable to a genealogical pursuit. Some of the authors are well known to the Jewish genealogical community; they include Alexander Beider, Stephen P. Morse, Jean-Pierre Stroweis and Wagner himself.

The book notes that a few decades ago the “hard” sciences such as mathematics, biology, computer science and so on played no significant role in the field of genealogy. Nowadays, genealogy is undergoing a rapid transformation: what used to be mainly an activity similar to stamp collecting, practiced mainly by the elderly, has become a field of ample information and knowledge.

A description of the book is found at Ordering information is at

Webinar on How Knowing the Law Makes Us Better Genealogists
IAJGS Vice-president Jan Meisels Allen notes that Legacy Family Tree is presenting a webinar at no charge on the subject of How Knowing the Law Makes Us Better Genealogists. It will take place on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The presenter, Judy G. Russell notes that “to understand our ancestors’ lives—why they did what they did—we need to understand the law that governed their lives in so many ways. Knowing the law our ancestors lived by helps us make sense of the records they left and find clues to more and different records.”

Register for the webinar at The program will be placed at the Legacy Family Tree website after it is presented. Webinars are available at no charge for some days thereafter and then are available to members only. Annual membership is $49.95. Archived webinars are listed at

One of earliest—possibly the earliest—genealogy software systems, Personal Ancestral File, is being discontinued by its creator, the Mormon Church. First made available in 1984 as a DOS-based system, it never was intended to compete with more feature-rich systems like Family Tree Maker, but instead was a vehicle for members of the Mormon faith to document their family history and submit names of relatives and ancestors to the Church for temple ordinances. Any development work was stopped in 2006, and now the Church has announced that on July 15, 2013, PAF will be retired and will no longer be available for download or support. The announcement can be found at A history of PAF is at

FindMyPast Offering Irish Record Collection at No Charge
From June 27–30, the Ireland version of FindMyPast,, is offering searches of their birth, marriage and death collection at no charge. A description of the offer is at

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 Colombia, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Italy, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, and the U.S. states of Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Included are additions to their collection of browseable images for Maryland, Register of Wills Books (1629
1999); and Missouri, County Marriage Records (18191969). Also the start of new image collections for  Minnesota, Naturalization Card Index (19301988); and Wisconsin, Milwaukee Naturalization Index (18481990).

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 in the announcement are the number added, not the total number available in the collection.

Recent Databases
Hamburg Passenger Lists have been updated to include the period 1850–1876. Previously only 1877-1914 had been covered. The only remaining portion unindexed is the records following WWI, 1920–1934. There are no records for the WWI period, 1915–1919. Reported by Joe Everett of FamilySearch.  The database is at

Rhode Island state censuses (1865–1935, except 1895 and 1905). 2.6 million records at

Massachusetts vital records (1840–1915) including 3.8 million birth records, 2.7 million death records and 3.1 million marriage records. Births are at, marriages at and deaths at

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail it to the Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, 155 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ 07621. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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