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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 8 | February 22, 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
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.

Israel State Archives to Digitize and Place Its Records Online
Yaacov Lozowick, Chief Archivist at the Israel State Archives, is in the process of fulfilling a dream. His dream is to digitize the complete holdings of the Israel State Archives and place the records on the Internet (where privacy considerations do not apply). This is the year we can anticipate results. Lozowick indicates that the first record group to be available later this year will be either the 80,000 files of requests for citizenship during the British Mandate period, or the 800,000 files of Israel's first census in 1948. He notes that the paper document collection at the archives is so huge, it might take 25 years to complete the project.

Additional information can be found at israel-state-archvies.html. The Archives’ website is at

New Genealogy-Related TV Program: Long Lost Family
Further evidence of the appeal of genealogy to U.S. TV audiences is the announcement that another (fourth) television program will premiere on the TLC channel on Sunday, March 1 at 10pm ET. Called Long Lost Family, the program has appeared on British television for at least four years.

The theme of the program is adopted people looking for their birth parents. The program is produced by the same company that produces TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are?. A program with a similar format was on the American Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in 2011. It wascalled Searching for... (see Nu? What's New? article).

Apparently only one show is planned. If there is sufficient viewer interest, additional programs will appear. Information about the U.S. version of Long Lost Family can be found at

FDA Eases Access to DNA Screening for Inherited Diseases
In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the DNA service 23andme from claiming they offered health-related information stating “ are marketing the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS) without marketing clearance or approval in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act).”
(See Nu? What's New? article.) Now the FDA has reevaluated the situation and says they are easing access to DNA tests used to screen people for devastating genetic disorders that can be passed on to their children. The Associated Press states, “This announcement offers a path forward for the Google-backed genetic testing firm 23andMe, which previously clashed with regulators over its direct-to-consumer technology.”

The recently published Winter issue of AVOTAYNU describes how a woman used the 23andme service before the ban, which lead to the discovery that she had a genetic propensity for breast cancer (BRCA2 gene). An MRI proved she had the early stage of the disease.

The complete AP report is at

GenealogyIndexer Adds Automated Hebrew, Yiddish Transliteration System
Logan Kleinwaks has hundred of scanned directories at his website, It includes, to date, 129 yizkor books, most of which are written in Yiddish and Hebrew. To search these books previously required that you use Hebrew/Yiddish characters to search the site. Kleinwaks has now added a new way to search Hebrew and Yiddish sources.

There now is an option for automated transliteration, so the search term can be typed in Latin letters and the system will find matches in Hebrew and Yiddish. To enable this option, change the pull-down menu, "Add Latin -> Cyrillic," to "Add Latin -> Cyrillic + Hebrew" or "Only Latin -> Hebrew." The transliteration only works with single-word search terms and the Regular Match option (not D-M Soundex or OCR-Adjusted). It is limited by the accuracy of the OCR software used to convert scanned documents to (Hebrew, Yiddish) text.
Unfortunately for me, the surname Mokotov is phonetically similar to the Hebrew word for “letter” (the written document), so I received hundreds of results. The scheme worked quite well for the surname “Finkelstein.”

A complete description of the new feature with suggestions as to its use can be found at

IIJG Looking for Volunteers for Its Jacobi Project
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center (IIJG) initiated last year a project to publish the late Paul Jacobi's 114 typewritten genealogical studies (monographs) of European rabbinical and other prominent Jewish families. They are now looking for volunteers to perform proofreading of the text. IIJG states that the work requires a high level knowledge of the English language, responsibility and fidelity. The work will be spread out over the next ten months. Contact Ami Elyasaf, IIJG Executive Director, at

Information about the Jacobi collection can be found at It includes a list of the names of the 114 families that Jacobi documented at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 1.1 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, Japan, Russia and the U.S. states of California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. The primary addition is a new collection of nearly 750,000 index records for New York Naturalization Index (1792–1906).

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.

FamilySearch Records for Belgium. FamilySearch now has hundreds of thousands of civil registration (birth, marriage, death) records for Belgium. They can be found at In addition there are Antwerp Police Immigration Records (1840–1930) at Belgium was a haven for German Jews fleeing the persecution of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately this migration did not occur until 1933 and later.

MyHeritage Adds Millions of Scandinavian Records
MyHeritage has added the 1930 Danish census (3.5 million records) to its collection. In cooperation with the National Archives of Denmark, they also have plans to index and digitize more than 120 million records including all available Danish census records from 1787–1930 and parish records from 1646–1915. These record groups will start to be available sometime this year and completed by 2016.

MyHeritage will also add Swedish Household Examination Rolls from 1880–1920, that include 54 million records with 5 million color images, of which 22 million records are already available online. The remaining records are scheduled to go online before the end of June. Additional information about all these records can be found at

San Mateo County Obituaries
The San Mateo County Genealogical Society of California has added online more than 57,000 indexed and scanned obituaries from the region. The obituaries come from a variety of local newspapers. The society has previously produced a number of other valuable indexes including San Mateo County Marriage Index (1853–1948) and San Mateo County Birth Index (1866–1965).
The databases are PDF files, which means they can be dowloaded and searched at leisure. A complete list of databases is at San Mateo is the area just south of San Francisco to the northern end of Silicon Valley.

Reminder: Resubscribe to AVOTAYNU
If you are a subscriber to our journal, AVOTAYNU, and received a yellow renewal notice with the Winter issue, March 1 is the deadline to resubscribe at discounted prices. The deadline is March 15 for non-U.S. subscribers. Also there will be a drawing where the winner will receive a copy of any book published by Avotaynu. Renew for three years and get three opportunities to win. You can renew at

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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