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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 49 | December 28, 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
Happy New Year to All!

Mathilde Tagger (1933–2014) z”l

One of the giants of Jewish genealogy, Mathilde Tagger, died December 27 in Israel. She was 81. Tagger was deeply involved in Jewish genealogy both in Israel and abroad for the last 25 years, especially in the field of Sephardic genealogy. A notation on the website, a major site for Sephardic genealogy, tells it all: “Almost all the databases below were provided to SephardicGen by Mathilde Tagger.” For her overall efforts, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in 2007.

Tagger published numerous articles in various Jewish genealogical journals, including Sharsheret HaDorot (Israel); Revue du Cercle de Genealogie Juive (France); Etsi - Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Review (France); and AVOTAYNU. She was coauthor of Guidebook for Sephardic and Oriental Genealogical Sources in Israel, published by Avotaynu in 2006. The book brings together the tremendous and unknown wealth of information kept in Israel major archives as well as in minor ones for helping people researching their roots in the numerous Sephardic and Oriental communities.
She leaves two works yet to be published by Avotaynu. Dictionary of Bulgarian Jewish Surnames, and A Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names. They are additional examples of how prolific her writings were and her interest in sharing her knowledge with the genealogical world. We expect to publish these works posthumously.

To the right: Avotaynu co-owner Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus and Mathilde Tagger.

Tagger was born in Tangiers, Morocco, on August 31, 1933. Both of her parents were teachers for the Alliance Israelite Universelle Schools in Morocco. She had an MA degree in Library and Information Sciences from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was Chief Librarian of the Atmospheric Sciences Department, Hebrew University (1958–1978) and the Scientific Advisor for Special Information Projects at the Ministry of Science and Development (1980–1990).

In her last e-mail to me just five days ago, Mathilde shook her finger at me from across the pond noting that Nu? What’s New? mentioned in its last issue that Logan Kleinwaks plans to scan yizkor books. Mathilde reminded me that for the 2004 Jerusalem Conference she created an "Annotated Index of the Yizkor Book Collection at Yad Vashem Library" now at the Israel Genealogical Society website. It covers more than 1,400 books and the names of 4543 communities. To use her words, “Have a look at”

May her memory be for a blessing.

Yahad In Unum Posts Maps of Mass Jewish Killing Sites to Internet
Yahad In Unum, the organization whose mission is to identify and document mass killing sites in Eastern Europe of Jews during the Holocaust, has posted an interactive map of these execution sites at Mousing over a dot identifies the site. Those in red have specific information about the site that may include videos, photographs and documentation about what happened. An example is Lomazy, Poland, at

To this day, Yahad has effectuated research concerning 1,337 execution sites and has gathered 3,580 testimonies during the course of its 79 investigative research trips in 7 countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Lithuania).

Their main website is at

Illegal Immigrants to Eretz Yisrael Online
A list of illegal immigrants (Ma’apilim) to Eretz Yisrael during the British Mandate period is online at The site is new and currently not well designed. Individuals are sometimes listed first name first, others last name first. When I initially accessed the site it was possible to browse by initial letter of name (I could not find the feature recently), but it is useless because of the transposition of names. Using the Advanced Search with the Phonetic option produced persons named “Mandel” when searching for Mandelbaum.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 9.4 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Peru, Russia, and the U.S. states of California, Michigan, Ohio and Washington.

There are a number of notable additions valuable for Jewish family history research. They include index records for California, Oakland, Alameda County, Obituary Card Files, (1985–2011); index to Michigan Obituaries (1820–2006); and images of Michigan Probate Records, (1797–1973).

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.

What Will Happen to your Historical E-mail and Other Internet Data?
The cherished possessions of many genealogists are the letters sent by relatives to each other. Fortunately, my mother saved the love letters sent to her by my to-be father in the 1930s before their marriage. She also saved all the correspondence I had with her when I was in college. But what about these messages in the Internet age? If the Internet existed in the 1930s and my father send my mother glowing e-mails, would they have been preserved? How will the e-mail letters be passed down to the next generation?

Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter points to an article titled “Will Google Sell All Your Emails to Your Grandchildren?” which conjectures that Google, Facebook and Visa might go into the business 40 years from now of selling all your emails, photos, and purchase history to your grandchildren. The article notes, “The Sony hack has reminded us that nearly everything we say and do here in the early 21st century will be on the record forever. And we better be prepared for the historians of tomorrow to pick through every piece of it.”

You can read the complete article at your-emails-to-your-grandchildren.

Advice: Wait for Discounts
It has reached the point with genealogical service companies that it is foolish to subscribe to them when they are not offering a discount. Just wait a week, or perhaps a month or two, and the company—for a limited amount of time—will be offering their services at a discount or free. About two months ago, I wanted to upgrade two of the 13 Family Tree DNA tests I manage. With patience, I waited for FTDNA’s end-of-year discount offer and ordered them then. I also have an unused Y-DNA test kit that I bought at a discount at the last International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

In the case of online databases, be sure to register at sites of interest to you. They will send you e-mail about their latest offers. Here are two such offers from the past week. announced free search of the “best collections of 2014” in their global records through December 29. The list of collections available is at

Scotlands People is allowing free access to their index to Valuation Rolls 1875–1925 until January 6. Information about Valuation Rolls can be found at their site:

MyHeritage and Danish National Archives to Index Records
MyHeritage has entered into an agreement with the Danish National Archives to index census and parish records from 1646–1930. The records will available as early as April 2015 at the MyHeritage site. The announcement can be viewed at

Last Chance for 2014 Charitable Contributions
The clock is winding down to the end of 2014. If you have not made your annual contribution to a Jewish genealogical non-profit organization such as JewishGen or International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, the time to do it is now. Contribute to JewishGen at and IIJG at

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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