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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 7 | February 16, 2014

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
Yiddish Book Center Plans Full-Word Search System
Writing in the Canadian Jews News, Bill Gladstone, journalist and AVOTAYNU Book Review Editor, states that the Yiddish Book Center is reportedly in the final stages of perfecting an optical character recognition (OCR) software system for Yiddish literature that will make all of its 40,000 Yiddish titles, and perhaps some 3,000 Yiddish periodicals, fully searchable by keyword. The Center has one of the largest collections of yizkor books in the world. It is assumed it would mean that all these books would be searchable by name or surname. Other books might provide useful information about towns of ancestry. Gladstone’s report can be found at It is a PDF file and the story is on page 23.

Two New Jewish Heritage Roots Tours Are Now Available.
Eli Rabinowitz of Perth, Australia, is leading two Jewish Roots tours, one of Poland and one of Lithuania, this August. The trips are patterned after those given by Peggy Mosinger Freedman and Howard Margol for many years. There will be visits to major archives such as the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius, Kaunas Regional Archives and Latvian State Historical Archives in Riga where attendees will meet with officials of these archives and will be able to do research. Rabinowitz notes that attendees also will “meet leaders and educators who will add a new dimension to their own history. Local experts will talk on subjects such as the archives, cemetery renewal, the Holocaust and Jewish life. There will be opportunities to interact with young Jewish leaders and experience the contemporary Jewish community.” He notes he is a veteran genealogist who has made these trips many times.

The Polish tour starts in Warsaw on August 12 and ends in Vilnius on August 20. The Lithuania/Latvia tour starts in Vilnius on August 20 and ends in Riga on August 31. Full details of the itineraries and the tours are at Contact Rabinowitz at

JewishGen Education Courses in March
 JewishGen Education is offering two courses in March. They are:
   • Independent Study, February 28 to March 28
   • Beginning Jewish Genealogy in the U.S., March 16 to April 13

The Independent Study course provides mentoring on a private project which the student chooses. This session will follow the format of other JewishGen Education classes using one-on-one consultations via their private Internet Forum. The Forum is open 24/7 to accommodate students in various time zones. For more information go to

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, China, Colombia, Ghana, Italy, Netherlands, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, and the U.S. states of California, District of Columbia, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virgnia.

Notable collection updates include more than a million records for West Virginia Marriages, 1780–1970, and an additional 416,000 indexed records from the United States 1860 Census.

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. Launches 5 Million U.S. Vital Records has made available more than 5 million birth, marriage, and death records from Alabama, Arizona, California and the District of Columbia. In 2012, acquired the company and the source of these new records appears to be from the parent company. Membership is free for seven days and then $7.95 per month if you choose to remain a member. They claim to have 2.6 billion records. You can search their records from the home page, and view their collections at

Winners of Obermayer German Jewish History Awards Honored
The Obermayer German Jewish History Awards were presented to this year’s recipients in a ceremony at the Berlin Parliament building on January 27. They honor non-Jewish Germans whose volunteer efforts ensure that the lives, culture and contributions of Jews in German communities will never be forgotten. The awards were established by Arthur S. Obermayer of West Newton, Massachusetts, in 2000. Obermayer, an avid genealogist, also established some years ago a Jewish museum in his ancestral town of Creglingen, Germany. In 2007, the Federal Republic of Germany gave its Order of Merit to him in recognition of his merits in fostering German-Jewish-American relations. The award is the highest tribute the country can pay to individuals, whether German or foreign.

Lars Menk, author of A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames, published by Avotaynu received the Obermayer German Jewish History Award in 2007. Information about the awards, including recipients past and present, can be found at

Scotland 1885 Valuation Rolls Now Online
Scottish Valuation Rolls for 1885 have been added to the ScotlandsPeople website. The new records comprise nearly 1.5 million indexed names/addresses and 77,000 digital images (taken from 144 volumes), and cover every kind of property that was assessed in 1885 as having a ratable value. With the addition of these latest records, ScotlandsPeople now has Valuation Rolls for 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920.

Published yearly on Whitsunday from 1855 to 1955, the Valuation Roles include the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property. The named person is usually the head of the household and, in many cases, occupations are also listed.

Additional information is at

Online Norwegian Censuses
An index to the 1910 Norwegian census can be found at Also added are scanned images of the 1865 and 1891 censuses whose links can be reached from the archives home page at An index to the 1865 census already exists. Information for the 1910 census may include name, age/birth date, place of birth, family position, marital status, occupation, habitual residence and assumed residence. There were only 10 persons named Levy/Levi in the census as compared to 23,857 persons named Jensen.

Editorial Comment: Mormons Get Free Ride
It is unfortunate that the big commercial genealogy houses, MyHeritage and FindMyPast succumbed to database greed by making free access to their sites based on a person’s religion–being Mormon—in exchange for acquiring FamilySearch databases. Had Israel-based MyHeritage offered discounts to Jews only, one can image the anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist backlash.

Noting the Mormon practice of posthumously baptizing Jews—including Holocaust victims—into the Mormon faith, one Jewish genealogist commented, “Do I need to wait until I am dead?”

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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 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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