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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 28 | July 19, 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.

Avotaynu Online Has Article About Family Trees and Privacy Issues
E. Randol (Randy) Schoenberg gave an excellent lecture at the recently completed conference on Jewish genealogy about right to privacy matters with special focus on how it might affect online family trees. Schoenberg is a lawyer and a curator of Geni. You can read his talk on Avotaynu Online at

Schoenberg first describes the past history of right-to-privacy issues in U.S. courts. He then argues that public discussion of what were considered stigmas (promiscuity, homosexuality, illegitimacy, infidelity), can lead to considerable change in public opinion on these issues as a result of more disclosure and discussion.

He then turns to the matter of privacy and genealogical data outlining his views on the rights of the deceased and the living. Regarding the claim that family trees can lead to identity theft, he says, “As far as I have been able to determine, there has not been even one documented case of identity theft involving a family tree.”

At the end of the article, he summarizes his views by stating:
   1. Deceased individuals do not have a right to privacy, so publication of genealogical data about deceased individuals is unrestricted.
   2. There is generally no legal limitation on the publication of genealogical data about living individuals, since that data is neither private nor objectionable to a reasonable person.
   3. Living individuals may have a right against public disclosure of private facts that would be offensive or objectionable to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities.
   4. Online genealogy sites may restrict publication of genealogical data about living individuals, but solely as a result of marketing decisions and not because of any legal requirements or risks of liability or litigation.
   5. Subject to the rule against public disclosure of objectionable private facts, genealogists are generally free to publish online family trees, and do not need to accede to privacy requests from individuals named on those trees.

If you have not subscribed to Avotaynu Online, do it now. On the page identified above, click on “Click Here To Subscribe to Our Weekly Digest.” There is no charge for a subscription.

Organization Wants “Right To Be Forgotten” Rule Applied in U.S.
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that a Santa Monica(California)-based organization, Consumer Watchdog, has requested the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to impose the “right to be forgotten” concept from the European Union on Google in the United States. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times is critical of the idea stating to have the U.S. do something because it is done in Europe is a bad idea. It sets an “ugly precedent” failing to recognize the differences between the cultures and legal traditions—let alone that the “right to be forgotten” is a bad policy. To read the editorial, see

The complaint was filed with the FTC on July 7 and an article by Consumer Watchdog on their filing may be read at: google-us-right-be-forgotten. In their filing they stated: “Google’s refusal to consider such requests in the United States is both unfair and deceptive, violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” To read their complaint see: ltrftcrtbf070715.pdf.

New Book: Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names
Mathilde Tagger’s legacy to Jewish genealogy continued even after her death last December. At that time, she and Avotaynu were working on her next book: Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names. Fortunately she made final corrections before her death, and now Avotaynu is able to publish her final work.

Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names contains nearly 2,000 Sephardic given names that have been compiled by the author from hundreds of sources.
A typical entry includes:
   • Name: In the case of a variant or a diminutive, the root name is also shown.
   • Gender: Masculine or feminine—not always obvious from the name itself
   • Etymology: The origin of the name.
   • Variants: When they exist, they are part of the root name entry.
   • Place: When a name is peculiar to a specific geographic area, the area is indentified.
   • Source: The source where the name was found.
   • Diminutives: If existing, they are part of the root name entry.

The book is 166 pages and costs $24.00 plus shipping. Additional information and how to order can be found at

Avotaynu Books for Sephardic Genealogy
Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names is the fifth book Avotaynu has published of value to people tracing their Sephardic Roots. Remarkable, Ms. Tagger has authored or co-authored three of them. The five books are:
   • Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World. Winner: Best Judaica Reference Book (2002) by Association of Jewish Libraries.
   • Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames (Dicionário Sefaradi de Sobrenomes). Winner: Best Judaica Reference Book (2003) by the Association of Jewish Libraries.
   • Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names
   • Guidebook for Sephardic and Oriental Genealogical Sources in Israel
   • Dictionary of Bulgarian Jewish Surnames

In addition there are many Sephardic-related chapters in Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy.

New Season of Finding Your Roots Will Start in January 2016
The PBS program Finding Your Roots, originally slated to begin airing in September of this year, is now scheduled for January 2016. The temporary halt was caused by a report that a guest celebrity, Ben Affleck, wanted to suppress the fact that he had slave-owner ancestors.

The Huffington Post report states that celebrities to appear in the new season include Patricia Arquette, Lidia Bastianich, Richard Branson, Donna Brazile, Ty Burrell, LL Cool J, Mia Farrow, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Jimmy Kimmel, Norman Lear, Maya Lin, Bill Maher, Julianna Margulies, John McCain, Julianne Moore, Azar Nafisi, Bill O'Reilly, Shondra Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, Gloria Steinem, Kara Walker, and Keenen Ivory Wayans.

The report can be found at

Reminder: New Season of Who Do You Think You Are? Starts July 26
The new season for the U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? starts July 26 on The Learning Channel (TLC). There will be six episodes, five of which will include Ginnifer Goodwin, J.K. Rowling, Alfre Woodard, Bryon Cranston and Tom Bergeron. The announcement can be found at

Webinar Planned on U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Records
Marian Smith, senior historian at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, will be giving a webinar on July 31 at 1 pm ET on “Immigration & Naturalization Research.” People planning to listen to the webinar who have questions they would like Smith to answer can submit the questions to with the subject line “July Webinar Question.” If your question relates to a document you found, attach a copy of the document to the email. All questions must be received by Saturday, July 25th.

Registration for the webinar is at It is the webinar identified as “I&N Research.” Capacity is 125 attendees.

JewishGen Again Offers Independent Study Class
JewishGen is once again offering its Independent Study course from August 1–30. It provides mentoring on a private project which the student chooses. This session will follow the format of other JewishGen Education classes using one-on-one consultations via their private Internet Forum. The Forum is open 24/7 to accommodate students in various time zones. Complete information can be found at Announces AncestryHealth has launched a new venture, AncestryHealth, that gives consumers the ability to compile their family health history information with the help of their Ancestry family tree. As an additional option, you can choose to join a research project, an initiative to find new health patterns and further medical research. Ancestry stated that anonymous health information from you and other participants may help scientific researchers uncover health connections and this could lead to new cures, preventions, and treatments for other people in the future.

I started to use AncestryHealth and came to realize an enormous amount of time must devoted to this project. Documenting the health history of your immediate family—yourself, spouse, children, siblings and parents—is time consuming, but can be worthwhile. Recently, my children, wife and I shared our medical history to determine if there was any indication of a propensity toward certain diseases.

Additional information is at ancestry-launches-ancestryhealth. To learn more about the AncestryHealth, visit

Publication: Historic Canadian Synagogues
The website “Canada Jewish Pipeline” has published a 61-page illustrated description of old synagogues of Canada. It can be found at

Copenhagen Jewish Vital Records (1762–1915) Online
Logan Kleinwaks reports that scans of many Jewish vital records from Copenhagen are viewable on the Danish National Archives website at billedviser?epid=17117291. According to the National Archives' descriptions, the following records are included: births 1762–1915, marriages 1810–1915, deaths 1810–1915, "confirmations" 1817–1914. When you follow the above link, the first group of scans opens by default, but you can view the others by clicking the minus sign below the Rigsarkivet logo near the top left to close the first group's listing, then clicking the plus sign for the group of scans that interests you. In the list of groups of scans, F = birth, V=marriage, D=death, K=confirmation. There is no name index accompanying the scans, as far as I know.

Kleinwaks states that there is significant overlap with the FHL microfilms listed at, but many records on the National Archives website do not appear to be on the microfilms (e.g., births 1872–1915).

Kleinwaks website,, has a search engine that identifies information in more than 551,000 pages of historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., mostly from Central and Eastern Europe), 71,000 pages of 155 yizkor books (memorials to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust), 32,000 pages of military lists (officers, casualties, etc., mostly from the Russian Empire and Poland), 41,000 pages of community and personal histories, and 24,000 pages of Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources.

Correction: Judy Baston from San Francisco
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? stated the latest IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Judy Baston, is from Sacramento, California. In fact, she is from San Francisco. In a message to me, Beth Galetto of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, noted that their society is very proud of her achievements.

New York City Directories and Phone Books Online
The Brooklyn Public Library has placed online numerous city directories and phone books for the various boroughs of New York City. They appear to be unindexed. One announcement claimed that 107 years of books are available, but in searching the site, I could find only the years 1909–1967. The directories are housed at, and use the site’s standard display template.

The site is difficult to maneuver. I recommend starting at library?and[]=firstTitle%3AB&sort=-date&page=2 which provides a list of all directories. Note that many items in the collection are classified business directories, all published by the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation.

After selecting a particular directory, a small image of the starting pages of the directory will appear at the top of the page. Click the icon of four arrows to the right of the image to get a full-screen view. (Mousing over the icon will reveal the description “fullscreen view.”) This now enlarges the image to the point where it is almost readable.

Comments below are for the August 1942 Brooklyn Telephone Directory as an example.

At the top right is indication of a search engine. I tried it and got no results for “Mokotoff” or “Cohen.” The evidence is that the directory at this time is unindexed. To the right of the search engine are a number of icons. The one which is an italicized “i” brings you to a window that implies that you can download the directory in various formats. I tried the PDF format. It produced unreadable data.

The icons on the bottom right allow the user to browse the directory. The first icon, described as “one-page view,” actually shows two pages. The second icon, described as “two-page view,” actually shows four. (The proper description is “one-image view” and “two-image view.”) These icons are then followed by zoom in/out and backward/forward icons.

Note that as you browse forward, the ending portion of the URL changes. It initially starts with .../n1/mode/2up, and the number increases as you browse forward. The next set of two images ends with the URL...n3/mode/2up. Clearly changing the “n” value allows you to skip forward many pages. In search for “Mokotoff,” I initially changed the “n” value to “n100.” This only brought me to the letter “F” listings. Changing it to “n200” brought up an images in the letter “L.” By continuing to play with the number, the “Mokotoff” page was discovered by changing the value to “n229.”

The Brooklyn Public Library data is just part of a library of books, movies, software, music, and more contributed by many institutions. Go to for a list of participating organizations. This website has been mentioned numerous times in Nu? What’s New?. See for links to other datasets at this site mentioned in Nu? What’s New?.

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 
 Google Custom Search engine
 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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