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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 41 | October 20, 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
FamilySearch Continues To Make Alliances
FamilySearch continues to make alliances with its competitors, and the principal beneficiaries will be genealogists worldwide. Recently, the company made an alliance with where approximately one billion global historical records will be available online from the microfilm vault of FamilySearch. The two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records. Now FamilySearch has made further alliances with and More than 13 million records from FamilySearch are now available on, including major collections of births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia and Ireland. About 600 additional collections, containing millions of records, will follow. The two organizations have a long history of working together on historical projects, including indexing 132 million records of the 1940 U.S. census and two hundred years of British Army Service Records (Chelsea Pensioners) in a joint digitization project with the UK National Archives. Information about the agreement is at FamilySearch and also have entered a significant strategic partnership where MyHeritage will provide FamilySearch with access to its powerful technologies and FamilySearch will share with MyHeritage billions of global historical records and family tree profiles spanning hundreds of years. FamilySearch members will benefit from MyHeritage's unique technologies which automate family history discoveries. Smart Matching automatically finds connections between user-contributed family trees, and Record Matching automatically locates historical records relevant to any person in the family tree. By receiving accurate matches between FamilySearch’s Family Tree profiles and historical record collections, such as birth, death, census, and immigration documents, FamilySearch members will be able to more effectively grow their family trees in size and in depth and add conclusions supported by historical records.

FamilySearch will provide MyHeritage with more than 2 billion records from its global historic record collections and its online Family Tree. These records will be added to SuperSearch, MyHeritage’s search engine for historical records, and will be matched with family trees on MyHeritage using its matching technologies. Additional information is at

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU is in the works and should go to the printer in about two weeks. It is yet another remarkable issue of our quarterly journal. The article that impressed me the most was a woman’s ability to trace her crypto-Jewish maternal family back to pre-Inquisition Spain and, therefore, be declared hallachically (by Jewish law) Jewish by a rabbinic court. It amazed me that she was able to uncover a continuous stream of records for six hundred years. As a sidebar to the article, she also writes about a trip to her ancestral Spanish town.

Access to records important to genealogists has been under attack in many countries throughout the world. Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, sums up the current status of record access with particular emphasis of the European Union’s current focus on privacy.

The last issue of AVOTAYNU included two articles on the value of collaborative genealogy on such sites as Geni. This issue includes an article on what the author considers the down side of collaborative genealogy. Neil Rosenstein continues his treatises that challenge the accuracy of rabbinical lines; Mathilde Tagger introduces us to her project on pre-Inquisition Spanish Jewish surnames; Martha LevZion write an extensive history of Latvian Jewry; Alex Dunai writes two articles: one on how to prepare for a genealogy trip to Ukraine and another about 20th-century archival records in Western Ukraine.

These are just some of the articles to appear in the Fall issue. If you have not become a subscriber to AVOTAYNU, you can do so at

JewishGen Offering Advanced Course in Genealogy
JewishGen is again offering its Advanced JewishGen class November 1 to
November 28, 2013. This Advanced Course is interactive and collaborative. It is Internet oriented, open 24/7 and focuses on finding family records outside the
United States using JewishGen resources.

Downloadable lessons include:
   • An overview of JewishGen and its search capacities and component databases
   • An understanding of Jewish customs, geography and history as they
affect family research
   • The methodology of foreign research
   • Jewish research sources and how to contact other researchers
   • Hiring professional researchers in other countries to search for records.

Registration is by application: Choose one family and one town for
your research project. Write a one paragraph introduction to your
family (limit is one surname or two if researching a married couple from the
same town). Outline one goal and three objectives (what you want to
achieve at the end of four weeks). Include a list of resources you
wish the instructor to supply. Tuition is $150 and is payable after
the application process through JewishGen’s online secure website.

Send your application letter to Nancy Holden at More about this course at

AncestryDNA Provides More Comprehensive DNA Test
AncestryDNA has announced that it now maps a test taker’s ethnic origins to 26 global regions, including expanded regions for people of European and West African descent. Their new capabilities include:
   • Increased number of ethnic regions to 26 from across the globe.
   • More detailed African ethnicity – a total of 10 African regions, including 6 different countries/regions within Western Africa including Benin/Togo, Cameroon/Congo, Ivory/Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.
   • More detailed European ethnicity, including Ireland, Great Britain, the Iberian Peninsula and Italy/Greece. Southern Europe is now separated into two groups including the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and Italy/Greece, providing more detail for those with Mediterranean heritage where historical records are less likely to be available.

In May 2012, launched AncestryDNA, a service that analyzes a person’s genome at more than 700,000 marker locations. It is available for $99, plus shipping and handling. Additional information on AncestryDNA 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 Canada, England and Russia. The Canadian collection is of additional indexes to Ontario marriages 1869–1927.

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.

Another Professional Genealogist Organization
In last week’s edition of Nu? What’s New?, I stated there were two sources to use to find a professional genealogist: Association of Professional Genealogists and a list on JewishGen. Readers note there is a third group located in the UK called Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. There are three ways of searching this list of professionals: (1) expertise by UK region, (2) area of expertise, (3) general search. Area of expertise does not include Jewish ancestry—Catholic ancestry is an option. General search scans the biographies of each member searching for the key words provided. In this way, two members were discovered who state they have “Jewish” expertise. Their website is

ITS Receives UNESCO Award
The International Tracing Service (ITS )has received a certificate for the inscription into the UNESCO "Memory of the World" register. "The archives were assessed to be of exceptional value and importance for humanity, for their evidential contribution to knowledge about the impact of war on peoples. By inscribing these archives on its Memory of the World Register, UNESCO hopes that their true value will become better known among researchers and educational institutions,” said UNESCO's Joie Springer during a ceremony in Bad Arolsen.

ITS archives comprise approximately 30 million documents relating to the incarceration of people in concentration camps, ghettos and Gestapo prisons, on forced labor as well as on the fate of displaced persons. The Central Name Index containing more than 50 million reference cards about the fate of 17.5 million people was compiled by the ITS over a period of several decades. It forms a useful tool for researching the fate of individuals. It is a major resource for information about Holocaust victims and survivors.

Further information about the award can be found at

Do You Have to Have Jewish Heritage to Become U.S. Secretary of State?
 Recent news media articles have noted that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is of paternal Jewish heritage. His grandfather changed his name to Kerry from Kohn when he converted to Catholicism. John Kerry’s brother Cameron converted back to Judaism in 1983. This is the second Secretary of State in recent times to have Jewish heritage. Madeleine Albright, who held the position under President Bill Clinton, was born to Jewish parents.

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 
 Google Custom Search engine
 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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