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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 19 | May 11, 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.

Works of Tomasz Wisniewski
Tomasz Wisniewski of Bialystok, Poland, is known for his website,, which has much data—primarily photographs and videos—about the Jews of the region. The videos typically involve the Bialystok area but have general meaning and could apply to any place in Eastern Europe where Jews lived.

The Men Who Wore Sidelocks is an interview with a Polish man who remembers the presence of the Hassidim of Krynki, Poland, before the Holocaust. The synagogue still stands, although it is now abandoned. View the interview at

Central Park is a half-hour documentary about Central Park in Bialystok, a Jewish cemetery before World War II. After the war, a number of tombstones were stolen by construction workers and used to pave streets and walls (as shown in the film). Finally, authorities decided to bury the remaining tombstones in sand and turn the entire area into a park. The film is located at

The Pencil, at, is a fictional short story about the interaction between a studious teenage Jewish boy and the Christian and Jewish girls in his neighborhood.

Castaways consists of first-person accounts of witnessing trains passing through Lapy, Poland, carrying Jews from Bialystok to their deaths at Treblinka. They describe instances of Jews throwing children out of the windows of the boxcars and the consequences. Many will find the film disturbing. The video can be found at

Wisniewski is looking for additional funding for future video projects about the Jews of Eastern Europe. If you wish to contribute or want further information, contact him at
Bagnowka is a district of Bialystok, which contains the largest Jewish cemetery in northeastern Poland. This cemetery is located next to the Catholic cemetery, which in turn adjoins the Orthodox cemetery. As the website explains, “These three cemeteries in Bagnowka, that lie peacefully next to each other, are for us a potent symbol of what we are seeking to achieve - partnership and good-neighborliness with the varied religious and ethnic groups that in the past and in the present called Poland home.”

Complete Conference Program Online
The complete 2015 Conference schedule is now online at In addition to the search options made available, each column of the program can be sorted. For example, if you want to know which speakers are talking about what subjects, click the title heading “Speaker” and consequently scroll down the program in alphabetical order by speaker. Similarly, to look at all lectures by type of lecture, click the “Type” heading.

Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU to Printer
The Spring issue of AVOTAYNU is at the printer. The lead article announces our new venture, Avotaynu Online, as a historical record and for those AVOTAYNU readers that may not have heard of the new website. This is followed by an article written by Bennett Greenspan, president of Family Tree DNA, calling for and justifying a genetic census of the Jewish people. Then two officials at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum write about the institutions latest acquisitions. What amazed me is how much USHMM has expanded their scope of interest. One would think it would be limited to the events of the Holocaust and the time just short of that period, but USHMM is also in the process of acquiring early 20th century European records so they can identify individuals affected by the Holocaust. This may include vital records. IAJGS president, Marlis Glaser Humphrey writes about what she sees as the trends in Jewish genealogy. It is fascinating reading as to where we are, and where we are going in Jewish family history research.

All told there are 19 articles plus the usual columns. There are an unusually large number of articles because, as a tribute to the late Mathilde Tagger, AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus invited some of her friends to write articles on Sephardic genealogy. Although I am not of Sephardic ancestry, I found all the articles interesting. That is the constant comment I get from AVOTAYNU subscribers—in addition to helping them with their family history research, other articles are just as interesting to read, because they can learn more about Jewish history and strategies for Jewish genealogists in other areas of research.

The Table of Contents for the issue can be viewed at If you have not renewed your subscription to AVOTAYNU for 2015 or want to be a new subscriber, information can be found at

FamilySearch Plans Webinars on European Roots
FamilySearch has developed a number of webinars for persons with European ancestry that will be presented live through the next few months. The list can be found at Scroll down the page and upload handouts for the various sessions. If you cannot watch the webinar, the handout may be of value.

Webinars for the next two months are (times are Mountain Time):
   • Tue 12 May 7 pm Using the Digitized Records of Various Polish State Archives
   • Wed 20 May 7 pm Norwegian Emigration
   • Thu 21 May 12 pm Norwegian Census Records
   • Thu 4 Jun 7 pm Danish Research Strategies
   • Wed 17 Jun 11 am Preserving Our Slovak Roots in the 21st Century
   • Tue 23 Jun 7 pm Case History: How to find ancestors in Digitalarkivet of Norway
   • Thu 25 Jun 7 pm Hamburg Passenger Lists

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 9.8 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia (church recrds), Jamaica, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the U.S. states of Georgia, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Billion Graves Index and Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans (1925–1949).
There are a number of notable additions for Jewish family history research including and index to more than one million Costa Rica Civil Registrations (1860–1975). Many Jews fled Europe before and after World War II. There are 267 persons named Levy in the index, almost all post-1930. Other additions should be evaluated to see if they apply to your research.
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.

Crestleaf Identifies 101 Resources for Finding Your Jewish Ancestors
The relatively new genealogy website,, has provided a list, "Jewish Genealogy: 101 Resources for Finding Your Jewish Ancestors," at Veteran genealogists will find most of the sites familiar to them, but the list is worth looking at to pick up one or two lesser known sites.

Website Has List of Belgian Soldiers Who Died in WWI
A website has a database of Belgian soldiers who died in World War I. It is located at Provided is name, death date and cemetery if known. The search engine uses the “contains” feature. For example, searching for Levy produced results for a person named Pollevydt.

Have You Registered to Receive Notices from Avotaynu Online?

Have you subscribed to Avotaynu’s latest venture: Avotaynu Online? We have created a special sign-on site at By registering, you will receive a weekly notice of items added to the site.

By virtue of its focus on the in-depth reporting of specific subjects, Avotaynu Online will be entirely distinct from the existing print journal, AVOTAYNU, which for over three decades has covered the broad spectrum of Jewish family history research, and from the weekly Nu? What’s New?, which reports breaking stories in the world of genealogy.

 Avotaynu Online is free of charge. 

Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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