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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 9 | March 1, 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.

PBS To Air Documentary about 350 Years of Jewish Migration
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) will be presenting a documentary on 350 years of Jewish migration titled “Jewish Journey: America.” Airing time varies by station. Check your local station for date and time. In New York it will appear on March 3 at 8pm and rebroadcast at later times. A preview can be seen at An article about the program is at

A Bit of History:
Convicts to Australia and the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System
A recent news release by noting they have records of Australia’s “First Fleet” of convicts sent to colonize the area reminded me that the first article in the first issue of AVOTAYNU (Vol.1 No. 1, January 1985) was written by the late Chief Rabbi of Australia, Israel Porush (1907–1991), about the history of Australia.

The British permanent presence in Australia started on January 26, 1788, when a group of 750 convicts landed there to establish a penal colony. Known as the “First Fleet” to Australians, the penal colony was created because the British colonies in North American had recently gained their independence and Great Britain had no place to dump their excess convicts. Rabbi Porush noted that some of the members of the First Fleet were Jewish but “…Most of the Jewish convicts were guilty of petty crimes such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting and receiving stolen goods…” He then went on to note that many of these Jewish convicts eventually were freed and became prominent citizens in the early history of Australia.

In rereading the article, when I came to its end, I noticed it was immediately followed by an article written by me titled “Proposal for a Jewish Soundex Code.” This article was read by Randy Daitch, another Jewish genealogist, who at that time was also contemplating the inadequacies of the conventional Russell Soundex System for German and Eastern European surnames. The two of us collaborated and the result was the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System, which today is the default search option for most of the databases on JewishGen.

The Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System also is used by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) as its standard soundex system for retrieving case histories and is the standard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. It is used to search the Ellis Island database of 24 million immigrants at the “Stephen P. Morse Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step” site.

You can read the article by Rabbi Porush and the beginning of the article, “Proposal for a Jewish Soundex Code, at You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Deadline for Renewal of AVOTAYNU
Deadline for receiving the discount renewal for AVOTAYNU and participating in the drawing for a free copy of any book published by AVOTAYNU is March 1 for U.S. subscribers and March 15 for others. We are receiving reports from some U.S. subscribers they just received their copy (surprisingly one from Maryland even though the journal is sent from nearby Pennsylvania). We will leave the discount offer open for a few more days for U.S. subscribers. Persons can also pay by check and receive the discount offer. Renew by credit card or PayPal at or send a check to the address shown on the renewal form.

Another Jewish Cemetery Burials Online
Nu? What’s New? subscriber, Warren Weiner, reports that the Montefiore Cemetery in Rockledge, Abington Township, Pennsylvania, has a searchable database for its interments. Rockledge is about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Information includes date of death, burial association (where applicable) as well as the Section, Lot and Grave number. The site is at

Weiner notes that other Jewish cemeteries in the area, such as Roosevelt, don’t offer search capabilities. Mount Lebanon, in Collingdale, Delaware County, has just started posting names but has thousands of burials to do before the database is useful.
IAJGS maintains an International Jewish Cemetery Project which attempts to identify and described Jewish cemeteries throughout the world. It is located at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 19.2 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Canada, Brazil, Puerto Rico and the U.S.

Notable additions are 300,000 records from and 7 million obituaries (1980–2014) from GenealogyBank. The GenealogyBank records not only index the deceased but relatives mentioned in the obituary. Also included are more civil registration records from Brazil and Puerto Rico.

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.

Recent Additions at
   • California, Marriage Index, 1960–1985. It appears to be complete.
   • U.S., Petitions of the Jewish People's Committee, 1938. Petitioning to allow more refugees into          the United States. The list is does not appear to be very large. There are only 8 persons                    named “Levy.”

New databases acquired through partnership with JewishGen:
   • Romania, Teis-Dambovica Camp Prisoners, 1941. 1,225 names
   • Hungary, Jews of Szombathely,1944
   • Croatia, Zagreb Survivor Lists, 1945
   • Romania, Jews of Des (Dej) in the Ghettoization of May, 1944

Denmark Opens Digital Archives Online
Jan Meisels Allen, chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, has reported that the Danish Archives has opened a digital archives online at It includes nearly 2 million documents including photos, diaries, letters and sound and video recordings. The Archives plans to add 25,000 new photos monthly.

The website is in Danish. Use Google Translate at to translate into your native language. Additional information about the announcement is at

IIJG Mathilde Tagger Prize for Genealogical Research: More Information
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center (IIJG) has announced the deadline for submitting proposals for the recently created Mathilde Tagger Prize is May 31, 2015. The award is a $5,000 research prize for original research conducted recently and not yet published, that either broadens the horizons of Jewish genealogy or creates an innovative tool or technology designed to assist Jewish family historians in their endeavors.

In addition, to encourage younger scholars, the Institute is also offering a $2,000 prize for an approved M.A. or doctoral thesis in the field of Jewish genealogy.
Mathilde Tagger was an internationally-recognized exponent of Sephardic genealogy, whose many pioneering contributions helped advance the field significantly. She was a Founding Member of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy in 2005 and did service as its Honorary Secretary from 2006 to 2012. IIJG states that the prize is being offered as a tribute to her selfless dedication to the cause of academic Jewish genealogy, which is at the heart of IIJG’s Mission. Additional information can be found at

JDC Honors Its Women in Recognition of International Women’s Day, March 8
March 8 is International Women’s Day. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is using the occasion to honor the women of their organization who made significant contributions to JDC's legacy of service to the global Jewish people.

For example, Laura Margolis Jarblum spent two years in Shanghai during the Holocaust negotiating with the occupying Japanese forces to feed 5,000 refugees a day. A major figure in JDC’s wartime and postwar work, by 1944 she was off to Europe, providing aid to Jews in Theresienstadt and Bergen-Belsen.

JDC has created a website to honor many of these women. It is located at Unfortunately, the person who designed the page put so much creativity into it that the page it is almost unreadable. Scroll down very slowly to view the photographs and read the bios of the women being honored.

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Download Pages of Testimony Forms.”

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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