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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 1 | January 4, 2015

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
Maps of Litvak Jewry
If you are of Litvak (Lithuania Jewish) ancestry, Dovid Katz, a Yiddish scholar and cultural historian of Lithuanian Jewry, has an interesting website at Much of what he shows requires knowledge of the Yiddish language, but his map collection should be of interest to all, including non-Litvaks. It is located at

Just a few examples are “Map of the Lithuanian Jewish Communities: Links to Their Holocaust Fate.” at and “The Classic Litvak Territory” at

There are many maps that show the different pronunciations of the same word in the various regions of Lithuania. For example, the 18 ways hamentashen (the three-cornered pastry eaten on Purim) was pronounced.

JRI-Poland Now Links to Site With 200,000 Gravestones
Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland) now links to the database of the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland (FDJC). The FJDC database contains more than 200,000 gravestones from 81 towns.

A JRI-Poland search
will create results that include entries from the FDJC database and link directly to both digital images and full transcriptions of the gravestones. When viewing the summary of JRI-Poland results by guberniya, the FJDC results appear in the “No specified region” section. (Important note: When searching, do not limit the search to any specific geographic region.)

The JRI-Poland site provides important additional features when accessing the FDJC database, features not available at the FDJC site. Instead of just surnames, it is now possible to search by surname, given name or by year ranges.

A full list of cemeteries now included in the database is at

JOWBR Now Has 2.37 Million Records
The New Year is a time when major databases announce their accomplishments for the previous year. JOWBR, the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry, announced that they have just added more than 102,000 new records and 45,200 new photos. The update brings JOWBR's holdings to 2.37 million records from more than 4,900 cemeteries and cemetery sections representing 104 countries. This update includes the first records from 19 new countries, many for veteran burials: Angola, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iceland, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Monaco, Mongolia, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, and Uzbekistan.

JOWBR is located at How to volunteer data for the project can be found at

JewishGen Memorial Plaques Project
A recent update to the JewishGen Memorial Plaques Project adds approximately 15,000 new records and 11,000 new photos from 20 synagogues/organizations. The database now includes more than 75,500 records from the US, Israel Canada and Morocco. These records come from 111 different synagogues and other institutions.

The project’s database can be accessed at

Family History Library Announces Online Classes
The Family History Library has announced its online classes for January-April 2015. Examples are 26 “German Research: The Hamburg Passenger Lists” on February 26, “Solving Tough Research Problems” on March 12 and “Document Analysis on March 26.” Information about all classes can be found at

Database of Prisoners of War During WWI
 Israel Pickholz notes that the International Committee of the Red Cross has an online database of persons who were prisoners of war during World War I. They are images of index cards for each individual. The database is organized by nationality. If there are no results for the name search, the closest name is displayed and it is then possible to browse the collection from that point forward.

The website is at

An Unusual Tombstone
Sadly, my uncle (mother’s brother) died this past Sunday. At the burial, I did what many genealogists do; I looked at the tombstones in the immediate area. This benefited me one time. Some years ago, at my wife’s aunt’s burial, I noticed a set of graves with a family name I was researching. It was a previously unidentified branch of the family and included five tombstones from which I was able to gather information.

In this past week’s case, what I discovered was a very unusual tombstone. The person buried near my uncle had a very unusual Hebrew name: Shimon bar Shimon, implying he was named after his father. His father must have died when his mother was pregnant with him.

More About Website of Illegal Immigrants to Israel
In the last issue of Nu? What’s New?, I noted a list of illegal immigrants (Ma’apilim) to Eretz Yisrael during the British Mandate period is online at I noted there were problems in using the site. I have been informed the site is still in Beta testing and problems that were encountered should be resolved by the time it is officially announced.

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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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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