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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 27 | July 12, 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.

MyHeritage Adds Global Name Translation™ Technology
MyHeritage has added yet another advance in technology for family history research with the introduction of their Global Name Translation™ feature. It addresses the barrier that exists when records about the same person are in different languages and alphabets, they are difficult to match.

The technology automatically translates names found in historical records and family trees from one language into another—“in very high accuracy”—generating all the plausible translations, to facilitate matches between names in different languages. In addition, a manual search in one language will also provide results in other languages, translated back to the user’s language for convenience.

For example, people living in the United States with Russian roots previously had to search for their ancestors in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet to maximize their chances of finding pertinent information. The new technology will now accept searches in English, automatically increase their scope to cover Russian and Ukrainian as well, and translate all results back to English.

The new technology also enhances the MyHeritage matching technologies to bridge across language gaps. For example, If a user from Greece with a family tree in Greek is related to a user from Israel with a family tree entered in Hebrew, MyHeritage will be able to connect them, automatically matching between names in the Greek and Hebrew, and show the two users how their family trees overlap.

The first version successfully translates names between English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Greek, Hebrew, Polish, Czech, Russian and Ukrainian. The next version, currently in development, will add Chinese and Japanese. Additional languages will follow.

A full description of the announcement is at

JewishGen Improves Performance of Systems
Have you used JewishGen lately? You may have noticed a significant increase in performance in many of its components. They include the JewishGen “All Country” Databases (there are 13 of them) plus the hosted “All Country” Databases (JRI-Poland and LitvakSIG); JewishGen “All Topic” Databases (5 of them) and the Family Tree of the Jewish People. The technical staff of JewishGen has made significant upgrades to the internal software to accommodate the increasing heavier load caused by more and more people using the site.

Fuzzy matching has been added to the search engines which will assist in locating misspelled or mistransliterated data. For example, searching for “Mokotow” in the All-Poland Database using the Fuzzy Search option uncovered a record for a person name Monkotow and Mokoton. Important note: When using the Fuzzy search, only fuzzy results are returned. In the example above, persons in the database named “Mokotow” are not included.

Exact searches for given names will include synonyms in the result. For example, searching for a person whose exact name was Rivka Mokotow, produced a result for Rywka Mokotow.

The display results of the Family Tree of the Jewish People have also been improved. It now shows three generations of descendants and ancestors. I have found the three generation of ancestors useful in determining how the other contributor links to my family tree. Also the three generations of descendants allows me to add previous unknown members of the family (usually recently born children).

Jerusalem Conference a Great Success
Nearly 1,000 people—a record—from 21 countries attended the recently completed 35th IAJGS International Conference of Jewish Genealogy held in Jerusalem, Israel, this year. Attendees came from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Jamaica, Latvia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, USA and Ukraine. It was reported that perhaps half of the attendees were Israelis. Interest in family history research by Israelis is further evidenced by the fact that more and more leaders of Jewish genealogy are Israelis.

Dick Eastman is possibly the best-known genealogy newsletter writer in the world. He attended and spoke at the conference. His perception of the event, written in his daily newsletter, is at

Next year, the conference will be held in Seattle, Washington. The conference planners already have a basic website at

IAJGS Announces Achievement Awards
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies has announced their achievement awards for 2015 at the recently completed 35th annual IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

Lifetime Achievement Award. To Judy Baston of Sacramento, California, for her years of work as a LitvakSIG board member; moderator of the LitvakSIG Discussion Group; member of the JRI-Poland Board; Lomza Archive Coordinator; and moderator of the Lodz Area Research Group and BialyGen Discussion Groups. Judy was also involved in editing/proofreading yizkor book translations for Ciechanowiec, Eisiskes and Ostrow Mazowiecka.

In my opinion Judy is an example of the many tireless workers in Jewish genealogy who contribute much but whose names are not well known to the general Jewish genealogy community because they do not take leadership roles. They just contribute anonymously enormous time to growing Jewish family history research. For example, there are many such people in the background of JewishGen.

Volunteer of the Year. Jan Meisels Allen. In recognition of the work as president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County and Chair of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee. A former IAJGS Vice-President who strives to keep Jewish genealogists aware of opportunities and records access issues through her messages to the IAJGS leadership and JewishGen. Jan’s messages are frequently quoted in Nu? What’s New?

IAJGS Member of the Year. Israel Genealogy Research Association. In the 3½ years since its founding, this society has created the All-Israel Database which currently has 420,000 records searchable at their site. IGRA is working with more than 40 archives in Israel, including the Israel State Archives where they are indexing the marriage and divorce records from the British Mandate period.

Outstanding Project/Resource/Program. Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston. In recognition of being the leading contributor to the JewishGen Memorial Plaque Database, accounting for 52% of the entries. JGSGB has submitted 37,628 entries from 62 Massachusetts synagogues/Jewish organizations.

Outstanding Publication. Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island for its series of YouTube genealogy programs. Examples are: 6 Ways City Directories Can Further Your Genealogical Research8 Ways to Find Your Ancestral Town, and 6 Tips to Help Find Maiden Names. They have already posted 10 videos with plans to add one every month. You can find the videos on by searching for “Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island.”

Outstanding Publication. Jewish Genealogical Society of Maryland, Newsletter L'Dor V'Dor This newsletter is not two years old, yet it compares favorably to publications of much more mature organizations. L'Dor V'Dor includes a variety of articles, from research methodologies to success stories to brick walls. Its breadth and depth are unique.

IAJGS Announces Its Annual Grants
At its annual conference, IAJGS also announced its grants for the year.

The Stern Grant of $3000 was given to The Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland to create a freely accessible database containing documentation of all available monuments in Jewish cemeteries in Poland, preserving the information before the ravages of time destroy much of them.

The Stedman Grant of $3000 was given to the partnership of Jewish Galicia & Bukovina Association, Gesher Galicia, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Herzl Institute of the University of Haifa, to index the 1939 Stanislawow (Ivano Frankivsk) census and the Stanislawow District Passport Applications). The records are located with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and have already been provided to the project.

More Free Genealogy Sites
As reported in Nu? What’s New? earlier this year, has created an annotated list of 50 free genealogy sites. Now they have added an additional 25 sites to their list. They include:
   • US National Archives site that contains more than 50 million searchable records for civilians (including immigration records), military personnel, prisoners of war and more. This site is being continually updated and has been mentioned a number of times in Nu? What’s New? in 2005, 2008 and 2010.
   • Yet a new online grave index:

Family History Daily notes that while access is free, some will provide additional information for a fee or require free login to access their site. The list of 25 sites can be found at

Japanese Court Upholds “Right To Be Forgotten” Viewpoint
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that a district court in Japan ordered Google to delete past reports on its search engine regarding a man’s arrest for molestation, saying they violate a man’s personal rights

Even though the articles that Google linked to were truthful, the man said having links to his name and the incident is preventing himself from rehabilitation. The Court found against Google saying publicizing the man’s name and criminal information doesn’t serve the public’s needs and is, therefore, illegal.

The presiding judge said, “The disadvantages that the man suffered are hard to make up for and are grave. It is feared that his peaceful social life could be disrupted.” The judge did acknowledge that search engines play a public role in assisting people's right to know.

A news article can be found at

Article on Jewish Surname Adoption in Russian Empire
If you have Jewish roots in the Russian Empire of the 19th century, then your surname is no more than 200 years old. Jeffrey Mark Paull and Jeffrey Briskman have written an article titled “History, Adoption, and Regulation of Jewish Surnames in the Russian Empire.” It can be viewed at

List of Online Databases at UK National Archives
The UK National Archives has a list of 49 databases they currently have online at Examples are: Aliens’ Registration Cards (1918–1957) and Naturalisation Case Papers (1801–1871)

New Collections from GenTeam
GenTeam, the Austrian genealogical site, now contains more than 12.2M records. A recent addition is Jewish Registers in the Burgenland (1832–1895). Also an index of automobile owners in Austria in 1938. Their site is located at

Crypto-Jewish Conference Slated for Miami, Florida, July 19–21
The 25th Anniversary Conference of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies (SCJS) will be held Sunday, July 19 through Tuesday, July 21, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Miami, Florida. SCJS, which was founded in 1991, fosters research of the historical and contemporary development of crypto-Jews of Iberian origin. It provides a venue for the descendants of crypto-Jews, scholars and other interested parties to network and discuss pertinent issues.

Keynote speaker is Ainsley Cohen Henriques, director/chairman of the Heritage Center Committee of Kingston, Jamaica. Ruth Behar, professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, born in Havana, Cuba, will speak about the convergence of cultures. Dr. David A. Wacks from the University of Oregon explores 16th century crypto-Judaism.

A genealogy workshop will be given on Sunday from noon until 4pm. It features Genie Milgrom, Schelly Talalay Dardashti and Bennett Greenspan.

Additional information including online registration is 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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 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

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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

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