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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 48 | December 15, 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
U.S. Budget Bill to Limit Access to the Social Security Death Index
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the Bipartisan Budget Bill 2014 includes a provision that limits access to the Death Master File/Social Security Death Index. The provisions are identical to bills IAJGS and the genealogical community have been opposing in submitted statements to the U.S. Congress for several years.

Specifically the public is not allowed access to the Death Master File for three years from date of death. Persons certified by the Secretary of Commerce to have immediate access are those who have legitimate fraud prevention interest, legitimate business purpose or fiduciary duty. This apparently does not include genealogists. The budget bill includes penalties for violation—$1,000 per violation with a cap of $250,000 per violator.

Additional information can be found at

Library of Congress Webcasts on Preserving Photographs and Scrapbooks
The U.S. Library of Congress has a webcast on “Preserving Your Memories: Print and Digital Photographs.” It can be viewed at Another webcast is titled “Preserving Your Memories: Traditional and Digital Scrapbooks.” It can be viewed at

UK National Archives to Place World War I Collections Online
Titling the effort “First World War 100,” the UK National Archives plans a variety of activities to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, including placing online numerous collections from that era. The first and largest of their digitization projects is the unit war diaries which chronicles the day by day operations of regiments. Previou
sly only available on site in Kew, these records are a rich source for the genealogist and the historian alike. They have digitized 1.5 million diary pages relating to France and Flanders in the largest single digitization project undertaken by the National Archives. The digitization continues with the minutes and papers of the Central Military Service Tribunal and Middlesex Appeal Tribunal (including appeals made by conscientious objectors), service records of the Household Cavalry and many more.

Sign up to receive updates as these are released. The announcement can be viewed at

Closeout Discount: A Field Guide To Visiting a Jewish Cemetery
One of our more popular books is A Field Guide To Visiting a Jewish Cemetery. Avotaynu bought the last 28 copies, and it is now out of print. The publisher has informed us that eventually there will be a new edition at a higher cost.

Avotaynu will sell the remaining copies to Nu” What’s New? readers for three days only—December 15–17—for only $18 plus shipping. The list price is $22.95. If there are remaining copies the price will go back to our regular price of $21.00. Use Coupon Code CEMETERY when checking out to get the special price.

A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery is a good book on understanding the ways of Jewish cemeteries and how to interpret the Hebrew inscriptions on tombstones. The fact that tombstone inscriptions are in Hebrew can be a challenge to some researchers. The material presented in this 220-page book is simple enough that it can be understood by those with the most minimal exposure to Hebrew. Yet it is comprehensive enough to be a valuable resource to the most sophisticated Jewish readers.

It has a dictionary of Hebrew words found on tombstones but also includes common expressions that appear. The carving of a tombstone can be expensive and sometimes Hebrew expressions are represented in abbreviated form. An appendix shows commonly used abbreviations.

Order it now! This announcement is going to more than 7,000 readers and there are only 28 books available. Go to Be sure to use the Coupon Code CEMETERY when checking out to get the discount.

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 Brazil, Liberia, Japan, Peru, Philippines and the U.S. states of Idaho, Illinois, New York and Washington. Most notable are a half million index records added to Illinois, Northern District (Eastern Division), Naturalization Index, 1926–1979.

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.

JewishGen Offering Class on Publishing Family History
Are you ready to publish your family history and wondering how to get  it organized and out to family and friends? JewishGen is offering a four-week class "Publish Your Family History" starting January 2, 2014. The class includes lessons to help you organize data for publication; format; and sequence text and media. The class will consider the many kinds of publications from photo albums to family history books, self-publishing venues, and using professional publishers. The instructor will read parts of your work as you progress
through the stages of production.

Enrollment is by application. Application may be found at Tuition is $150 and is payable through JewishGen’s online secure web site after the application process.

Have You Made Your Annual Donation to JewishGen?
In December, a U.S. genealogist’s thoughts lightly turn to whether s/he has made her/his tax-deductable annual donation to JewishGen. We all use JewishGen throughout the year. We subscribe to its Discussion Groups, are members of its Special Interest Groups, check the JewishGen Family Finder from time to time to see if any new listings involve our research areas. On occasion we use the Jewish Community Finder when we come across a new town whose location is unknown to us. When there is a document in a language we do not understand, we post it to Viewmate so a volunteer can translate it. We take advantage of the 20 million records JewishGen currently hosts and view many of its 70,000 web pages. The databases of JewishGen keep growing and growing and that means additional costs.

Have you contributed monetarily to JewishGen’s sustainment and growth? If you have not made your annual contribution, do it now on the JewisGen-erosity page at Consider contributing at least $100 for the year. If you do, you are entitled to Value Added Services described at

News of Brest, Chmielnik, Gdansk and Gliwice
The Museum of the History of the Polish Jews reports the following:

On October 13, the city of Brest, Belarus, held a ceremony of unveiling a monument of Menachem Begin, the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Begin was born in Brest in 1913. Information about the ceremony is at,belarus-commemorates-menachem-begin/.

A Jewish Educational and Museum Centre has opened in Chmielnik, Poland. It is located in the former Chmielnik synagogue. The building was restored and adapted to serve its new purposes. A glass bimah (altar), which is unique on a worldwide scale, is the main attraction of the museum. View the bimah at Additional information about the synagogue is at,-swietokrzyski-shtetl-has-been-launched-/.

The Great Synagogue in Gdansk, Poland, which was destroyed by the Nazis 75 years ago, will be commemorated through a symbolic reconstruction of its perimeter. The idea comes from Mieczysław Abramowicz, a writer and researcher on the history of the Jewish community of Gdansk, and spokesman of the Gdansk Jewish community. The announcement is at,great-synagogue-in-gdansk-will-be-commemorated/.

The town of Gliwice, Poland, will have a museum of the history of Silesian Jews. One wing of the building will house educational space for workshops, meetings, conferences and temporary exhibitions. The exhibition room will display graphic art, texts and maps. The permanent exhibition will show the historical background of Upper Silesia (Gorny Slask) via a graphic time line. It will show the beginning of Jewish settlement in the region, the role of Jews and influence on the industrial prosperity and the history of industrial Jewish potentates, including their families, everyday life and the engagement in social events, education and politics in the context of growing anti-Semitism in Germany and later during the Holocaust. The exhibition will conclude with information about the postwar fates of Jews in the region and about biographies of renowned Jewish families from Upper Silesia. Additional information is at,gliwice-will-have-a-museum-of-the-history-of-silesian-jews/

MyHeritage Adds 32 Million Nordic Records
MyHeritage has launched a major initiative in Nordic countries. They have added more than 32 million records from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, dating back to the early 1600s. The majority are birth, death, marriage, baptism and census records. A spokesperson stated that MyHeritage is investing millions of dollars to digitize more Nordic historical content and has signed new agreements that will result in a wealth of Nordic historical records to be added during the next few years. Information about the collection and future plans can be found at

Try Backing Up These Files
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter recently noted that’s data files now occupy 10 petabytes. That is 10,000,000,000,000,000 bytes or a billion megabytes.

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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