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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 3 | January 18, 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
Top 100 Most Popular Sites for Genealogy
GenealogyInTime Magazine has published its annual list of the 100 most popular genealogy websites based on the amount of traffic received by the site. Once again, came out on top. dropped in rank from fourth to fifth, overcome by FamilySearch, Find-a-Grave and The list can be found at top-100-genealogy-websites-of-2015-page02.html. Geni dropped in ranking from fifth to seventh. JewishGen retained its position at 33rd and is the only website on the top 100 list classified as “ethnic heritage.” is well ahead of the others. It receives 55,800 visits a day, while second place FamilySearch receives only 17,300 visits.

The top 10 sites and those popular sites for Jewish family history research and their rank (last year’s rank in parentheses) are:
   1. (1)
   2. FamilySearch(3)
   3. Find A Grave (2)
   5. (4)
   6. GeneaNet [France] 7)
   7. (5)
   8. (9)
   9. (17)
 10. FindMyPast UK (18)
 14. Family Tree DNA (14)
 32. (59)
 33. JewishGen (33)
 55. Steve Morse (35)

A suggestion to GenealogyInTime: In the future, combine the traffic for those companies that have multiple websites, usually for many countries. All the Ancestry, MyHeritage, FindMyPast sites soak off visits from the main site.

Family Tree DNA Abandons Distant Matches
Family Tree DNA will no longer notify patrons of its Family Finder test of distant matches. This is in response to feedback from many customers who stated these fifth cousins or greater were of little value and generated unnecessary e-mail.

It has been possible for some time to stop notifications for Y-DNA matches that are below a given level, for example, 25-marker matches, which I personally find of little value. To do this, first log in at Then click "Manage Personal Information." This will take you to your Account Settings page. Then click the "Match and Email Settings" tab towards the top of the page. On that page, view the section “Y-DNA Matches and E-mail Notifications.” There you can select which levels of matches you do not wish to be informed.

Family Tree Builder Now Available for the Mac
Family Tree Builder, the genealogy software system from MyHeritage, is now available on a Mac. One unusual feature of the system is that it supports 40 languages.

What is available today is an interim version called “Family Tree Builder Mac Extension” which looks like the Windows version but does not require Windows or any additional setup or configuration when downloaded. MyHeritage is in the advanced stages of developing a native Mac version of the software.

Family Tree Builder's main features run the same on the Mac version, including Sync with MyHeritage, Smart Matches, Record Matches, the consistency checker, charts, etc. There are, however, several minor features not compatible with the Mac OS X that will be unavailable for Mac users. These are: maps, formatting in notes (e.g. bold, italics, etc.), book reports (though they can be created online), and display of right-to-left languages.

You can download the software (Windows or Mac version) at no charge at Additional information about the product is at

FamilySearch Launches New App Gallery
Interested in knowing what apps are available for genealogical research? FamilySearch has launched an online app gallery to help people more easily find partner applications or services to enhance their family history efforts. People now can search more than 50 apps to find those that meet their specific need, platform, operating system, and price. The list is limited to FamilySearch “partners.” Notably absent are apps developed by, MyHeritage and FindMyPast. The “FamilySearch App Gallery” can be found at

Holocaust Memorial Day – January 25
The UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides. Various events throughout the world will commemorate this day.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has produced a 38-minute film that provides an overview of the Holocaust and is “intended to provoke reflection and discussion about the role of ordinary people, institutions, and nations between 1918 and 1945.” The film can be found at It has English subtitles for the hearing impaired. The film can also be viewed in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish. Links to these other languages can be found at special-focus/international-holocaust-remembrance-day.

Andre Singer’s documentary, Night Will Fall, the story about the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, will be broadcast worldwide in the next 10 days. According to Variety, the film, will air on HBO in the U.S., on German-French channel Arte, ARD in Germany, Channel 4 in the U.K., TVP in Poland, VPRO in the Netherlands, Channel 8 HOT in Israel, Denmark’s DR, RTVSLO in Slovenia, YLE in Finland and Norway’s NRK. The film will also be distributed in Portugal by Midas Filmes. Check locally for date and time.

A review of the film can be fond at movie-review-20141119-story.html.

Poland Sets New Privacy Limitations on Vital Records
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, announced that the Polish Legislature has passed a law that will embargo birth records for 100 years and marriage and death records for 80 years. Previously, marriage and death records were embargoed for 100 years. It is reported that this law will be implemented starting March 1, 2015. One problem with the bill is it allows the local civil registration offices (USC) to take as long as 10 years to transfer marriage and death records to the State Archives.

The Gesher Galicia Special Interest Group had written letters to members of the Polish legislature to get a shorter transfer period and a lesser embargo period for death records, but they were not successful in their efforts.

Virtual Tour of Museum of the History of Polish Jews
One of the advantages of the Google Maps function at is that in the vast majority of cases, it also gives you a photographic street view of the place requested. I have used to identify a building that I planned to visit and have even walked in the footsteps (virtual) of my ancestors by keying in an ancestral town and, using the mouse, to travel up and down the streets. (See “Google Has Photographs and Street Views of European Town” in Nu/ What’s New, Vol. 15, No. 31.)

Now this feature has been use to provide a virtual tour inside the facility Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. If you go to, Google Maps will give you a tour of the museum’s exhibits. Travel up and down the corridors and look at the various displays. Most have descriptions in Polish and English and some in additional languages including Hebrew, French and German.

Are You a Member of a SIG?
A posting to the Ukraine Special Interest Group boasting they now have 3,500 people who have registered as part of their Discussion Group reminds me of the great value of all the Jewish genealogical Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

SIGS are an important component of organized Jewish genealogy. Driven by the desire to find records of their ancestors, Jewish genealogists have clustered around “countries” of their ancestry to volunteer to provide information, primarily vital records. The word “countries” is in quotes because often they do not represent current boundaries. A good example is Gesher Galicia which focuses on Galicia, a region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which ceased to exist after World War I. Galicia today is primarily southeastern Poland and northwestern Ukraine. A few SIGs are topic rather than country oriented. They primarily communicate through Discussion groups. They include Sephardic genealogy, rabbinic genealogy, DNA testing, yizkor book project, Yiddish theatre and vaudeville research and professional genealogists.

In Discussion Groups, researchers can share information, ideas, methods, tips, techniques, case studies and resources. Most important they can be used to post queries about individual research that hopefully can be answered by another subscriber. (See example in “Illustrations” section.) Each Discussion Group has an archives of all messages previously posted. The main group—JewishGen Discussion Group—has every message posted since 1993. Search the archives for ancestral towns and names to see if there have been previous inquiries.
SIG websites often go well beyond records of ancestors and include:
 • A Discussion Group where messages and announcements from individuals can be posted
 • Discussion Group archives. All prior postings to the Discussion Group
 • List of shtetls (towns)
 • Addresses of archives in the country
 • Links to other sites that have information about the country or its Jewish presence • A method of contacting the SIG  • How to help by volunteering or contributing money.

The SIGs can function only through volunteer help and contributions to maintain and grow the site.
A complete list of SIGS can be found at A complete list of Discussion Groups is at The main JewishGen Discussion Group archives 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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