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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 28 | July 20, 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
No Issue Next Week
There will be no issue next Sunday. I will be attending the 34th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Salt Lake City.

What To Do In Salt Lake City Besides Genealogy
I have gone to Salt Lake City for genealogical purposes nearly every year for the past 32 years, often more than once. It is a beautiful city located in Salt Lake Valley snuggled up against the Wasatch Mountains. The Hilton City Center, site of the 34th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, is just two long blocks from many interesting sites in downtown Salt Lake City. If you have visited there before, you will be familiar with the first four items, so skip down to City Center.

Tabernacle Choir. If you arrive before Sunday morning, an absolute must is to attend the Sunday morning broadcast performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir sings in a building known as the Tabernacle (hence the choir’s name) which is part of Temple Square. Just go through one of the gated entrances to the Square and follow the crowd. The performance is at 9:30 and doors close promptly at 9:00. Neat casual wear is acceptable attire. Some years ago they added a symphony to the choir and organ; I find it distracting. You can’t improve on perfection and the choir by itself is perfection.

Temple Square. The Mormon Church gives tours of Temple Square which includes a history of the Mormons. It is just two blocks north of the hotel with its most prominent building being the Temple with a gold statue of the Angel Moroni atop its highest steeple. I took the tour in 1982, the first time I visited the city. After the tour, they asked if I would be willing to give my name and address “so they would know who visited Temple Square.” I gave them the information, and as we were walking away I turned to my wife and said, “I guarantee you we will be visited by missionaries.” Well, it didn’t happen, at least for about 90 days. Then there was a knock on the door and two young men in missionary uniforms (black suit, white shirt, tie and name tag) stated, “we had trouble finding your home because of the peculiar house numbering for your street. We understand that you visited Temple Square last summer?” I told them “yes” and that I had gathered all the information I wanted at that time. They left.

Joseph Smith Building. Formerly the Hotel Utah, this magnificent building houses Church administrative office and two good restaurants on its top floor. It is located on the block to the east of Temple Square. It is a must to eat at the Roof Restaurant on the top floor at sunset on a cloudless day. The view of Temple Square (especially the Temple), the mountains and the valley with its pinpoints of light is magnificent. The buffet is quite good. The restaurant is owned by the Church, so you won’t be able to get coffee, cola or alcoholic beverages (all not kosher to Mormons), but their fruit ades are delicious. Reservations for the restaurant are required.

City Creek Center. If you have not visited Salt Lake City in the past five years, you are unaware of the urban renewal project of the Church. They tore down two city blocks and build a magnificent shopping center called City Creek Center. It has 110 stores including 22 restaurants from McDonalds to upscale restaurants. There is also a supermarket (Harmon’s) where you can stock up on food and/or snacks. (The hotel rooms have refrigerators.) Browse the City Creek Center at

Restaurants. Salt Lake City made the commitment a number of years ago to be a major convention city. That requires good restaurants from inexpensive to fine dining. There are lots of them in the area and all that I have eaten at are good. City Center is probably the best place to get an inexpensive breakfast or lunch. Check with the hotel’s concierge desk for a restaurant that fits your dinner preferences.

Who Do You Think You Are? Marathon Today (Sunday)
New Season Premiere’s Wednesday
As a preview to the start of the new season, all of last season’s seven episodes of the U.S. version of the Who Do You Think You Are? will be shown today July 20 from 1–8pm, on the TLC cable channel. The new season begins Wednesday, July 23. Last season’s celebrities included Christina Applegate, Kelly Clarkson, Cindy Crawford, Zooey Deschanel, Chelsea Handler, Chris O’Donnell and Jim Parsons. This season will describe the family history of Valerie Bertinelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lauren Graham, Kelsey Grammer, Cynthia Nixon, Rachel McAdams and her sister, Kayleen McAdams. This Wednesday’s episode is about Cynthia Nixon.

Also, TLC has acquired 10 episodes from the show's previous seasons on NBC. These episodes feature Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Rob Lowe, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Vanessa Williams and Rita Wilson. again is a sponsor and partner on the show, providing the research into the celebrities’ ancestries. Information can be found at think-you-are-season-5-lineup-preview-premiere-date.

USCIS Planning Webinars
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is holding a number of seminars this summer of interest to genealogists. Topics are:
   • History Library Catalog and Services
   • Genealogy Program Introduction
   • Guide to I&N History Research
   • “Records Found” Case Studies

The first to be presented is “Records Found” which covers the topic of “Women Who Lost Citizenship through Marriage: Naturalization and Repatriation Records, 1922–1956.” It will be held on Thursday, July 24 at 1pm Eastern Time. Additional information and registration is at Sign up early for these webinars. A note on the website that access can be denied if the Webinar session has reached the maximum lines capacity of 125.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, England, Germany, Isle of Man, Netherlands and the U.S. states of Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio.

A notable addition for Jewish family history research is a new collection of and index to 751,805 Cook County (Chicago) Deaths, 1878–1922, 1959–1994. In addition to date of death, the index often includes exact date of birth, name of father and maiden name of mother. A few (52,000) actual images have been added also.

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.

New Book: The Synagogues of Central & Western Pennsylvania: A Visual Journey
Julian Preisler has published a new book, The Synagogues of Central & Western Pennsylvania. It covers areas such as Pittsburgh, Altoona, Johnstown, Erie, Harrisburg, Williamsport, etc. The book contains 198 black/white and 32 color photographs of current, former and demolished synagogues in the region plus historical information. Small towns as well as larger cities are well represented. The price is $19.99 plus shipping.

Preisler has previously published Jewish West Virginia and “Historic Synagogues of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.” Information on ordering any of the three books can be found at

JDC Facebook App
The Joint Distribution Committee has developed a direct link to its archives index on Facebook. It can be reached in the Facebook search field by typing “JDC Archives.” The direct link is

Charles University in Prague Database
A posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group notes that Charles University in Prague has started digitizing its student database for 1882–1945. It is located at It currently has only four persons named Levy. They attended from 1921–1932. The search engine has the useful feature that it looks for the string of characters presented so that a search for “levy” also produces results for Levyckij, Levyova and Vahylevyc.

WWII Documents Now Accessible at U.S. Holocaust Museum
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. has made available records from the U.N. War Crimes Commission archive that have largely been locked away for the past 70 years under restricted access by the United Nations. The United Nations War Crimes Commission records from 1943–1949 comprise about 370,000 pages of documents related to alleged Nazi war criminals; the charges filed against them; and meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, trial transcripts, and other papers tied to the commission’s activities. Moreover, the archive holds records related to the prosecution of these alleged war criminals by tribunals from different countries.

Further information can be found at A description of the holdings can be downloaded at The UN archives can be viewed at the Museum Library. Those who wish to view the material should first contact the reference staff for information. Contact information is at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Pages of Testimony (online).”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
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