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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 47 | December 8, 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
Belated Happy Chanukah
There was no issue of Nu? What’s New? last Sunday. A belated Happy Chanukah to all.

There has been a lot of main-stream media coverage about the first day of Chanukah and U.S. Thanksgiving Day occurring on the same day; the next time will not be for more than 70,000 years. This was discovered by Stephen P. Morse more than a year ago. At that time Morse added that the next time you light Chanukah candles at all on Thanksgiving Day is the year 2070 and then again in 2165. After that it will not happen again until November 23, 79043. It is a Saturday.

This posed many other trivia questions. When will Erev Chanukah and Erev Christmas (Chanukah and Christmas Eve) occur on the same day in this century? Answer: 2016, 2027 and 2072. Given this calendar drift, assuming there is no redesign of the secular or Hebrew calendars, Morse notes that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, will coincide with the secular New Year’s Day on January 1, 22203 = Tishri 1, 25963, another Saturday. All these calculations, through the secular year 9999, can be made at Morse’s “When Did” site at DNA Service Under Investigation by FDA
The non-genealogical DNA services of the company 23andMe are under scrutiny of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company’s website is at The company’s home page previously stated their DNA testing results provided at a cost of $99:
   • Reports on 240+ health conditions and traits
   • Discover your lineage, find relatives and more
   • Get updates on your DNA as science advances
Now it reads:
   • Learn what percent of your DNA is from populations around the world. Additional text states, “Find out what percent of your DNA comes from populations around the world, ranging from East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and more. Break European ancestry down into distinct regions such as the British Isles, Scandinavia, Italy and Ashkenazi Jewish. People with mixed ancestry, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans will also get a detailed breakdown.”
   • Contact relatives across continents or across the street. Additional text states, “Ever wonder who's related to you? You'll likely discover dozens or even hundreds of people who share DNA and ancestors. The matches you'll get can range from close family to distant cousins.”
   • Build your family tree and enhance your experience with relatives.

In a warning letter to the company, FDA stated, “ are marketing the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS) without marketing clearance or approval in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act).” The letter continues with justification why the 23andMe website statements fall under the scrutiny of FDA, and why the results of the DNA testing may lead customers to come to wrong conclusions (false positives or false negatives) about the results provided. The FDA letter is at

In this litigious United States, there already has been a class action suit filed against 23andMe claiming the company “falsely and misleadingly advertises their Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (‘PGS’) as providing ‘health reports on 240+ conditions and traits,’ ‘drug response,’ ‘carrier status’ among other things...” The complaint can be read at

To date, about 500,000 people have used the service.

The New York Times version of the matter can be read at

Another Times article states that four other companies have received letters from the FDA. They are DeCode Genetics, Illumina, Knome and Navigenics. That article is at

Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and chief executive of 23andMe stated according to the Times that the service her company performs “is so novel that it does not fit into the F.D.A.’s framework, like ‘a square peg in a round hole.’” Her comments are at

First Details of the 2014 Conference
The 34th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will take place in Salt Lake City at the Hilton Center Hotel from July 27 through August 1, 2014. To learn more about the conference, submit a presentation or computer workshop 
proposal, sign up for the conference blog and/or discussion forum, review the conference FAQs, or make hotel reservations at a special conference rate, visit the conference website, Registration will open by the end of December.

While the program committee will consider all submissions, they have identified some focus areas of special interest. These include Genealogy and Jewish history related to World War I, Jews of the Western United States, technology in support of genealogical research, immigration and migration over the ages and ethical considerations in genealogy.

The conference will begin the day before the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I (Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, one month after the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.) Many of us have ancestors who served in the armies of the various nations engaged in this conflict. The war and subsequent fighting for control of Eastern Europe devastated much of Europe including the Jewish heartland in the Pale. It stimulated a wave of Jewish migration and resulted in the Balfour Declaration, calling for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.

A Number of Significant FamilySearch Additions for the Previous 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 Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and the U.S. states of Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New England, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Spanish-American War.

Most notable are an additional 2.2 million records to the index of Canadian Passenger Lists, 1881–1922, 1.4 million records to the index of Maine Vital Records, 1670–1907; 24.8 million records to the index of New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909–1957; and 3.4 million index records to New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1891. Note that the index to Japan Passenger Lists, 1893–1941 contains no persons named Smith. The index may not use Latin characters.

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, which can be greater.

FamilySearch Additions for This 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 BillionGraves, Bolivia, Germany and the U.S. states of Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Oregon.

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, which can be greater.

Upcoming Changes to FamilySearch Site Navigation
FamilySearch is working on a number of site enhancements that will improve the user’s ability to find the tools and resources it uses most. Dropdown Navigation. When the enhanced site was launched in April, included were buttons at the top of each page that allowed users to have quick access to the main level of task navigation. To help get more directly to the main tools and resources of the site, FamilySearch will add a second level of navigation to these buttons (accessible by hovering over the current buttons), expanding the number of options and providing a path directly to all the main pages of the site. Site Map. In addition to the new drop-down navigation, there will be a new site map. The site map lists all the major pages and sections of the site in one view and allows users to access numerous tools or resources in one click.

The announcement can be found at

JewishGen Announces Basic Education Courses for 2014
JewishGen has announced four education courses that will be repeated regularly in 2014. Their titles and initial start dates are:
   • Basic 1: Search Strategies (January 17)
   • Basic 2: Exploring JewishGen (March 2)
   • Basic 3: Getting Organized (April 1)
   • Basic 4: Cite Your Sources (not announced)

The courses will be available at no charge to those entitled to JewishGen's Value Added Services (having donated $100 to the JewishGen General Fund within the preceding 12 months). JewishGen will continue to teach Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced interactive courses with Forums where students can get personal assistance from their instructors. It will also include Mark Heckman's annual KehilaLinks class.

Course listings showing details about the courses, instructors, dates and requirements are at

New Towns Added in November to KehilaLinks Project
One of the valuable resources located on JewishGen is the KehilaLinks Project which contains information about individual towns throughout the world where Jews live or once lived. These sites were created by individuals who wanted to share with other family historians information about the town. The entrance to the site is at If you do not find your town listed and wish to create a site, contact the KahilaLinks volunteers as described at the site.

Been, Ukraine; Benedykivtsi (Benedike, Benedikovce), Ukraine; Berehujfalu (Beregujfalu, Nove Selo), Ukraine; Chertezh (Ungcsertesz), Ukraine; Doudleby nad Orlici (Daudleb), Czech Republic; Fanchykovo (Fancsika, Fancikovo), Ukraine; Holiatyn (Tarfalu, Hol'atin), Ukraine; Horní Cerekev, Czech Republic; Il'nytsia (Iloncza, Ilnice), Ukraine; Khust (Chust, Huszt), Ukraine; Koshel'ovo (Keselymezo, Koselovo), Ukraine; Lypcha (Lipcse, Lipca), Ukraine; Mala Kopanya; Onok (Ilonokujfalu, Onyk), Ukraine; Popovo (Csonkapapi, Conkapapi), Ukraine; Pryslip (Pereszlo, Prislop), Ukraine; Repynnye (Repenye, Repinne), Ukraine; Shanghai, China; Uzventis (Uzhvent), Lithuania; Vil'khivka (Olyvos, Vlahovo), Ukraine; Vil'khivtsy (Irhocz, Vulchovce), Ukraine; Volyne (Wolin), Czech Republic; Voronkov (Voron'kiv), Ukraine; Zavydovo (Davidfalva), Ukraine; Zhnyatyno (Izsnyete, Znatina), Ukraine.

Photographs of Jerusalem ca. 1900
An interesting collection of photographs of Jerusalem ca. 1900 can be found at Captions, which appear above the photo, are in Russian.

Editorial: Iraqi Looted Jewish Property
It is interesting that the controversy about returning Iraqi Jewish property to the Iraqi government occurs at the same time additional Nazi looted art has been discovered, and an effort is being made to return the art to its rightful owners. The Iraqi artifacts are nothing more than looted property stolen from Iraqi Jewish citizens by its government. Returning it to the government rather than its rightful owners would be comparable to giving the Nazi looted art to a German museum.

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 a check to Avotaynu Foundation,  794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515, USA. 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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