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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 40 | October 19, 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

CNN Places Roots Documentaries on Internet
CNN has placed on the Internet the 14 documentaries about some well-known CNN commentators who traced their roots. The programs were aired this past week. They have so caught the genealogy bug that Saturday evening, there was a link on the CNN home page. The documentaries can be found at Wolf Blitzer, the only commentator to discuss his Jewish roots, describes being born in Germany to Holocaust survivors and being raised in Buffalo, New York. He visits Auschwitz where many of his relatives were murdered. Interestingly, his Blitzer family came from Oswiciem, Poland (Auschwitz is the German word for Oswiciem). The documentary was very well done.

Call for Papers: Jerusalem Conference
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) has issued a Call for Papers for lectures, workshops, and panel proposals for the 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Jerusalem at the Ramada Hotel, July 6–10, 2015.

As in recent years, the conference will have a specific theme—this year World War II. The meeting will take place a few weeks before the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, so the theme will focus on the impact of the War on the Jewish people and on their lives across the world. If you have a proposal that does not specifically fit the theme, feel free to submit anyway.

WWII-related topics include:
   • Jewish life in Europe and beyond
   • Jewish soldiers in the military
   • Resources for military documentation
   • Holocaust
   • Emigration and immigration
   • Unique archival repositories

Other topics will be accepted such as resources for researching in Israel (including in pre-State Israel), technology, tools and techniques, Sephardic and Rabbinic topics, country-specific research, etc.

Lectures are 45 minutes; workshops and panel discussions are 105 minutes. Any speaker may submit up to five proposals in either English or Hebrew. A maximum of three proposals per speaker will be accepted. Individual speakers with at least one accepted proposal will receive a partial registration fee waiver.

All proposals must be submitted using the Conference website form at E-mail submittals will not be accepted.

Submissions deadline is December 7, 2014. Notification of acceptance will be sent out by February 15, 2015. More detailed information can be found at under the “Speakers” drop-down menu.

MyHeritage Creates Library Version of Its Service
MyHeritage, in conjunction with EBSCO Information Services, has launched an institutional version of its service—MyHeritage Library Edition. This means their databases can now be offered by a local library or other educational institution. As noted in their news release, with the MyHeritage Library Edition, institutions will be able to offer their patrons access to billions of historical documents, millions of historical photos and other resources in thousands of databases that span the past five centuries. As is true of the fee-for-service online edition, it is available in 40 languages.

Library/institutional personnel will find additional information at The announcement can be found at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 9.2 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Belgium, India, Slovakia and the U.S. states of Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

There are a number of notable additions for Jewish family history research. View the entire list. Examples are more than 2.6 million index records for Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books (1592–1910); 2.7 million index records for the New Jersey census of 1915; 2.1 million index records for Ohio county deaths 1840–1901; and 900 thousand Pennsylvania obituaries 1977–2010.

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.

Seeking Couples/Partners Who Met Through Genealogy
For the past 28 years, AVOTAYNU has devoted a portion of each Winter issue to human interest stories about genealogy. Stories are typically about how genealogy affected people’s lives, whether it is the researcher or the people they are researching. We would like to include an additional aspect of the human side of genealogy this year. If you met your spouse/partner through genealogy, we would like to hear from you with a description of how it came about, to include it in this special story. Send your information to AVOTAYNU editor Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus at Also, if you do have a general human interest story you would like published in AVOTAYNU send it to Dr. Sack. A sample of such an article is at It appeared the Winter 1988 issue of AVOTAYNU and reprinted in Every Family Has a Story published by Avotaynu in 2008.

Deadline for submissions is December 2, 2014.

USHMM Plans Collections and Conservation Center
Like many fine institutions, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is suffering from growing pains. The museum expects its collection to double in size during the next decade. Their solution is to establish a second location in the Washington, DC, area that will become a place to store and preserve their documents and artifacts. To be called the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections and Conservation Center, it is named after Holocaust survivors who donated $15 million to the project. At a total estimated cost of $40 million, it will be located in Bowie, Maryland, and should open in 2016. Additional information is at Offering Free Access for Limited Time
In celebration of Family History Month, is offering free access to their Gold subscription service through Monday, October 20. They claim they have more than 420,000 databases. Some of them are the usual Social Security Death Index, and census records. They do appear to have a large collection of directories including college yearbooks. Registration is required, but no credit card information is asked.

The Canada Genweb is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The website has indexed some one million names. It also has more than 600,000 photographs and provides a directory to 20,000 known cemeteries in Canada. Access is free. The site is at

Call for Papers: Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies Conference
The Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies has announced a Call for Papers for its 25th annual conference to be held Sunday-Tuesday, July 19–21, 2015, in Miami, Florida. Ainsley Cohen Henriques of Jamaica will be the keynote speaker.

The Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies fosters research of the historical and contemporary development of crypto-Jews of Iberian origin. Additionally, it provides a venue for the descendants of crypto-Jews, scholars, and other interested parties to network and discuss pertinent issues. Their website is at Information about the call for papers is at

Names in Hungarian Labor Battalions and Deported Jew Online at
Peter Lande reports that one of the most valuable tools in researching the fate of Hungarian Jews is the Nevek series - Hungarian Labor Battalions and Deported Jews from various counties. Until recently these have only been available in book form. Now they have been added to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database. It can be linked to at

Social Security Administration Has Two Versions of Death Index
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the Social Security Administration (SSA) recently posted to their site that they have two versions of their Death Master File. (DMF) This is the database that genealogy sites call the Social Security Death Index. When a person dies and SSA is informed, their own data is placed in the DMF. This is what they call the Public File. However, SSA also collects death information from family members, funeral homes, financial institutions, postal authorities, States and other Federal agencies. This additional information goes in their Full File version of DMF which and is shared only with certain Federal and State agencies.

A description can be found at

Online Panel Discussion on Passenger Ship St Louis
An online panel discussion on the 75th anniversary of the sailing of the refugee ship the St. Louis, is available at the U.S. Library of Congress website. On May 13, 1939, more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Germany left Hamburg but were turned away when they tried to enter Cuba, the United States and Canada. The St. Louis was forced to return to Europe, a symbol of the world's indifference to the gathering Holocaust.

Speakers are Marvin Kalb, who spent 30 years as an award-winning reporter for CBS News and NBC News; Martin Goldsmith, host and classical music programmer, who recently authored a new book, Alex's Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance, about his family's connection with the St. Louis; and Diane Afoumado, chief of ITS Research at US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Survivors and Victims Resource Center. She is author of Exile Impossible: L'errance des Juifs du Paquebot St. Louis.

The discussion can be viewed at The Real Player plug-in is required.

Shoah Victims’ Names Database Now Documents More Than 4.3 Million Holocaust Victims
The Shoah Victims’ Names Database now has 7 million records identifying 4.3 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. About 2.6 million records come from Pages of Testimony. Another 2.5 million records come from archival material such as ghetto lists, deportation lists, etc. You can search the database at To submit Pages of Testimony for members of your family murdered in the Holocaust who are not yet documented in the database forms in a variety of languages can be found at

Beware of an Practice has been under criticism recently for trying to strong-arm publishers into acceding to their demands for lower prices on the grounds that consumers would benefit. Some years ago, Amazon created demands of Avotaynu—and undoubtedly other publishers—about discounts and speed of payments, but we refused their demands. As a consequence, Amazon stopped selling our books directly from stock. But some of the Avotaynu books on still have the following message:

“Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your credit card will not be charged until we ship the item.”

Fact: We have not gotten an order from Amazon directly in at least five years—since we turned down their demand. Originally I thought it was a vestige of the events some years ago, but recently noticed that the 2014 version of Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy has such a message.

Suggestion: When you see that Amazon message for any product consider that they may never stock the item, as is true of Avotaynu books, and shop elsewhere.

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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