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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 28 | July 14, 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
A summer week lean with information.

FamilySearch Immigration Indexing Project Reaches 50 Million Records
In June, the FamilySearch U.S. Immigration Project reached a significant milestone—50 million passenger ship and naturalization records have been indexed. This is in addition to the 25 million Ellis Island records indexed years ago, before FamilySearch indexing started. More than 165,000 volunteers have participated in the project including groups from the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society, the Association of Professional Genealogists, and other societies.

FamilySearch states they still have 60 million more U.S. immigration records and naturalization documents (at both the federal and county level) left to index.
Current projects include:
  • Hawaii, Honolulu—Passenger Lists, 1900–1952
  • Massachusetts, Boston—Crew Lists, 1891–1957
  • New York—Passenger Lists, 1875–1891
  • Texas, Del Rio—Alien Arrivals, 1906–1953
Projects coming soon:
  • Connecticut—Naturalizations, 1851–1992
  • Rhode Island—Naturalizations, 1906–1991
  • Maryland, Baltimore—Passenger Lists, 1820–1897
  • New England—Naturalizations, 1787–1931

The complete story is at

Lost Synagogues of New York City
One of the interesting aspects of Ellen Levitt’s trilogy about the lost synagogues of New York City is comparing the structures in the different boroughs of the City. By far, Brooklyn had the most attractive synagogues, then Queens, then The Bronx. In the case of her latest book, The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan, a remarkable number of buildings appear outwardly as tenement buildings. No doubt the earliest Eastern European Jewish immigrants were merely looking for a place to pray, and attractiveness of the synagogue was not a consideration (nor could they afford to build a beautiful structure). My grandfather prayed in a shtiebel—a room on the first floor of the tenement building where he lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As Jews acquired wealth in the Goldene Medina (Golden Land), they migrated to the other boroughs of New York City and built beautiful synagogues. Those Jews that remained in Manhattan also created comparable edifices.

Each of the three books Levitt created typically has about 80 featured former Jewish houses of worship that includes a photograph of the building showing how it appears today, a narrative that explains the history of the building and, in some cases, interviews with former congregants. Additional information including the Table of Contents, sample page and a complete list of synagogues identified in each of the three books can be found at:

The cost of each book is $26.00 plus shipping. There are special offers. Purchase all three books for $52.00 plus shipping (that is equivalent of buying two and getting one free). Purchase any two books for $40.00 plus shipping.

Lithuanian Internal Passport Indexing Project Reaches 116,000
The LitvakSIG Internal Passport Project (1919–1940) has now indexed 116,191 records. For the period 1919–1940, every Lithuanian citizen age 17 or older was required to have an internal passport. They are called “internal passports” because they could only be used for travel within Lithuania. In reality, they were personal identification documents that proved the person was a Lithuanian citizen. They are a valuable genealogical resource because they include name, date/place of birth, address, nationality, religion, occupation, some special traits (if the person had any), family status, information about children.

There is an 18-month delay between the date the data is extracted and the date they are available to the public at no charge. The information is more readily available if a person contributes money or time to the project. Complete information can be found at

Ellis Island Myth
A posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group notes that there is an excellent article published by the New York Public Library about the myth that immigrants’ names were changed at Ellis Island at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Pages of Testimony (online).”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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