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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 20 | May 17, 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.

Isolating Source of “2nd to 3rd cousins” Derived from FTDNA Family Finder Test
Those readers who have used the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test are keenly aware of the large number of “2nd to 3rd cousin” matches it produces. It is frustrating because the Family Finder cannot determine which of your four grandparents is responsible for the relationship.

I recently found a solution. A few months ago, I had my uncle (mother’s brother) take the Family Finder test primarily to demonstrate its accuracy. The results were (as reported in Nu? What’s New?) that, indeed, he is my uncle. I used his results to isolate my own Family Finder cousins. The two persons that the Family Finder state are my “2nd to 3rd cousins” are shown not to  related to my maternal uncle. This immediately eliminates two of my four grandparents—these people must be related to me through my paternal line. Frankly, through 30 years of research, I know all my Mokotow (paternal father) 2nd/3rd cousins and know most of my Wlodawer (paternal mother) cousins. I now plan to ask my closest Wlodawer cousin—a second cousin—to take the Family Finder test. This will then determine through which of the remaining two grandparents my DNA cousins are related.

So the strategy for all is to have an aunt/uncle take the Family Finder test to determine if a DNA cousin is on your maternal or paternal line. Then have a second cousin (common great-grandparents) on the successful line take the test to determine which one of the remaining two grandparents provided the DNA you share with your DNA cousin.

Archives Portal Europe
Gershon Lehrer of Belgium notes there is a website called Archives Portal Europe at that provides access to information on archival material from different European countries as well as information on archival institutions throughout the continent. It is a work in progress.

Searching for the Polish word for “Jewish” (żydowski) produced 2,847 results. The system allows narrowing down results by archival location, range of years and other factors. The search engine requires diacritical marks. Searching for zydowski—no dot over the ‘z’) produced only two results.

There are some digital images at the site. One such is the medical records of a Dr. Otto Liebfried. It includes a picture of him in a World War I German military uniform.

Some of the documentation includes names of persons. In a reference to a collection of Jewish vital records from the town of Ryczywol, Poland, reference is made to a man named Mordka Mokotow.

What Is a Genealogical Society?
The landscape of genealogy has been altered so much by the Internet that one can question “What Is a Genealogical Society?” Randy Seaver gives his views on the answer at his website Gene-Musings by stating that the classical genealogy society model is a group of persons interested in genealogy in a location (neighborhood, town, city, county, state, region, country) who meet in person to share information or help colleagues with their research. Today there are groups and “communities” that can be viewed as genealogical societies. Seaver lists the following forms:
   • Facebook Group
   • Google+ Communities
   • Webinars
   • Online forums and message boards
   • Daily or weekly newsletters

An example within the Jewish genealogy community is the Sephardic Heritage Project which is a member of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Seaver concludes, “I consider all of the above to be an ‘online genealogical society’ where there is regular communication and collaboration between ‘members’ for the purpose of education and helping the ‘members.’”

You can read the entire column at

“Crowd Sourced Genealogy: Implications for the Jewish People”
There is an interesting article online that discusses the implications of the fact that the general public now has access to their DNA profile and those of others through direct-to-consumer genealogical mapping from such companies as Family Tree DNA, 23andme and The article is titled “Crowd Sourced Genealogy: Implications for the Jewish People.”

The article discusses implications that these tools and developments could have on the Jewish people, such as:
   • Could these new tools affect connectedness of the Jewish people?
   • Could awareness among Jews that they are “distant cousins,” based on science, create or reinforce group solidarity?
   • How should individuals who believe they have discovered Jewish roots be treated by the Jewish community?
   • How do these developments influence the way Jewish identity is conceived?
   • Could these tools be used to strengthen an individual’s Jewish identity or lead to new forms of Jewish community involvement?
   • How can the Jewish people prevent DNA tests from becoming a device of alienation?

The article is located at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2.9 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Canada, Peru and the U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah and Wisconsin.

Most of the additions are images rather that index records. They include additional images for Illinois Northern District Petitions for Naturalization (1906–1994).

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.

Jewish History of Las Vegas To Have an Online Presence
From Las Vegas’ first settlements through today, people of Jewish heritage have contributed to the growth and vibrancy of the city. They filled many roles: as entrepreneurs and pioneers in business, as religious and political thinkers, as residents committed to the arts and education, and as leaders and workers that make this community work. This slice of Las Vegas history is now the focus of University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) Libraries’ newest project: Southern Nevada Jewish Community Digital Heritage Project.

The project officially began in August 2014. Later this year, the UNLV Libraries will build a web portal that will make this history accessible to researchers. Digital images of photos, brochures, scrapbooks, letters, drawings, videos, maps, newspapers and much more will be available on this site. The materials now can be viewed in person at the Special Collections on the third floor of the library.

Additional information, including how you can participate, can be found at

Getting Started In Jewish Genealogy–2015 Edition Shipped
Persons who ordered the recently published Getting Started In Jewish Genealogy–2015 Edition will receive their copy shortly. Shipping the book was delayed due to a production problem with the book’s cover.

The 104-page book is a getting started guide rather than a beginners guide. It is meant to convince the reader that tracing one’s Jewish ancestry can be done. The resources described are primarily Internet resources. The Internet has revolutionized family history research. What used to take days or weeks now takes minutes or hours because of the wealth of resources on the Internet.

Information, including a Table of Contents, is available at The price remains at $14.50. Avotaynu offers the book to Jewish genealogical societies at half price when at least 20 copies are ordered. Some societies distribute the book at no charge to new members who are starting to research their Jewish roots. Others use it as part of beginners’ workshops.

JewishGen Offers New York Genealogy Course
JewishGen Education Department will be offering a course of New York City resources for genealogy starting June 1. The program deals with more complex documents our ancestors generated, including naturalization, military and governmental records, death records (probate, obituaries, cemeteries), sometimes via local archival research.

It is a personal mentoring program. Students use the JewishGen’s online FORUM to post an ancestral branch, set goals for research, and work one on one with the instructor. Eight text lessons can be downloaded to read at your own pace. If you live local to New York City or are planning a trip to the Big Apple, there will be suggestions on where to research, where to wander and how to get there.

The course descriptions and requirements (8-10 hours per week) can be found at

IIJG Needs More Volunteers for Its Jacobi Project
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center (IIJG) initiated a project last year to publish the late Paul Jacobi's 114 typewritten genealogical studies (monographs) of European rabbinical and other prominent Jewish families. Their initial call for volunteers in February to perform proofreading of the text did not produce sufficient results, so they are looking for more people to perform the task. The entire manuscript is in English. 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

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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 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

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

* Also see Russia and USSR ** Also see individual countries
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