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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 34 | September 1, 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
Shana Tovah!
Happy (Jewish) New Year to all!! May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.

U.S. to Return Jewish Artifacts to Iraqi Government
In 2003, shortly after U.S. forces secured Iraq, Harold Rhode, a member of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington and then a U.S. government official, discovered Jewish artifacts, including a Torah, in the flooded basement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in Baghdad. Rhode wrote about the find in the Summer 2003 issue of AVOTAYNU. These Jewish books, records and Torahs managed to make their way to the United States, and now the Iraqi government wants them back and the U.S. government has agreed.

A furor has developed over this U.S. decision noting there are virtually no Jews left in Iraq and the material does not belong to the Iraqi government but to the Iraqi Jewish community, now in exile. As one columnist stated, “Jewish bibles seized from the custody of the Nazi SS would not be sent to the German government. There is no reason to send Jewish bibles into the custody of the Iraqi government.” A petition has been placed on the website asking the U.S. government not to return the archive to Iraq.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is planning an exhibit opening Friday, October 11, 2013, “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” It will be the first time these artifacts will be on public display. The exhibit will run through January 5, 2014. There is a video that shows saving the materials, freezing them, bringing them to the U.S. and preserving them. To view the video go to Rhode can be seen in the Intelligence Service building at the 28-second mark in the film. NARA identified it as the “Rhode collection” based on his name appearing on the containers that held the material. The materials will be digitized and put on a website before they are returned to Iraq. The collection includes more than 2,700 Jewish books and tens of thousands of documents in Hebrew, Arabic, Judeo-Arabic and English, dating from 1540 to the 1970s.

To read more about the exhibit go to: If you are a subscriber to Avotaynu Anthology (back issues of AVOTAYNU), you can find the 2003 article by searching for “Rhode Intelligence.” It is on the third page of the retrieved file.

Library and Archives Canada and Partner on Digitization of LAC Collections
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has signed a 10-year agreement with for the latter to undertake digitization, indexing and the description of millions of personal, administrative and government documents, as well as land grants, war diaries and photographs. There will be no change for those Canadians who wish to access these collections at LAC. This will triple LAC’s digital content on the Internet. also will also transcribe millions of handwritten pages and create related descriptions. Enhanced search tools facilitating access to these records will be available to Canadians free of charge at LAC, as well as at hundreds of subscribing libraries in regions across Canada. For a small monthly fee, Canadians will be able to have personal access to enhanced tools online to conduct advanced searches.

Additional information can be found 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 FindAGrave, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal and the additions to the index of Seattle, Washington, passenger lists. The FindAGrave index includes more than 1.4 million entries.

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.

RootsTech Conference Early-Bird Registration Includes Discount
Many years ago a conference named RootsTech was created by the developers of genealogy software to discuss common interests. Because of the specificness of the subject, it had limited attendance. A few years ago, FamilySearch became involved and turned it into a generalized gathering that now makes it the best-attended genealogy conference in the U.S. According to FamilySearch, the 2013 conference had 6,770 registered attendees with more than 13,000 people tuned in to watch the live streaming sessions. There still is a technology track called Developer Day.

RootsTech 2014 will be held from February 6¬-8, 2014, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Registration is now open at a discounted price of $159 (regularly $239) until January 6, 2014. There is even a greater discount if registering before September 9, 2013, by using the promotional code RT14EXCLSV.

Scheduled programs can be found at It is unclear whether this is the 2013 or 2014 program. Speakers who are regulars at IAJGS conferences include Ron Arons, Daniel Horowitz and Pamela Weisberger. The conference’s home page is Free Access to Immigration and Travel Records is offering access to their immigration and travel collections at no charge though Monday, September 2. These include passenger lists, passport and naturalization document and others. The site is at Registration is required.

California Marriage Index (1949–1959) at has created an index of California marriages for the period from 1949 to 1959. The index has some 2.3 million names. Details include the groom’s name, bride’s name, bride and groom’s age, date of marriage, county of marriage and the state file number. The database is at

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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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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