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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 48 | December 20, 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.

There was no edition of Nu? What’s New? last week. Plans to Abandon “Family Tree Maker” Causes Furor in Genealogical Community
More than 8,700 people have responded on’s blog ( to the company’s announcement that they are abandoning their offline genealogical software package, Family Tree Maker (FTM). Kendall Hulet, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Ancestry stated, “...we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that our users need.”

In a follow-on statement on the blog at, Hulet stated that:
   • Ancestry will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync will continue to work, and Member Services will be available to assist with user questions.
   • Ancestry is exploring possible relationships with other desktop software solutions that would make it possible for their products to integrate with Ancestry.
   • Ancestry is exploring options to bring more reports and related functionality from Family Tree Maker into the online service.

The fury of FTM users can be seen in some of the blog postings. Comments on the blog include:
   • I want my $40 back.
   • You folks are eliminating the best part of the Ancestry tools! I actually HATE your child-like new interface! It takes up too much real estate and it is harder to navigate.
   • I am so deeply saddened by this news, if it turns out to be true, I will no longer use Ancestry for ANYTHING, I have worked for 25 years on my history, and PAID Ancestry A LOT of money over the years, we BEG you not to do this.

As expected the vultures have descended on the dying carcass as Ancestry’s competitors are offering discounts to FTM users to switch to their products. The most complete list I have found is on the Blood and Frogs blog at

For example, Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist Officer for MyHeritage, stated, “At MyHeritage, we believe there is still a place in the world for genealogy software, and there is value in the ability to work offline and enjoy more powerful functionality that many websites cannot offer. We also believe that people should be able to discover and preserve their family history on whatever platform they are comfortable with. That’s why we are constantly innovating new technologies and enhancing our website, mobile apps and our Family Tree Builder genealogy software. We are delighted to offer FTM users who move to MyHeritage and choose to sync their family tree with their MyHeritage family site unlimited tree size capacity on their online family site, which is normally limited to 250 individuals on a free account.”

Editorial comment: This is a major blunder on Ancestry’s part. They have abandoned a very popular part of their product line and are providing no substitute. Ancestry states that FTM is the “#1 Family History Selling Software.” Admittedly offline genealogical software is slowly being replaced by online versions, but today no online version provides the functionality of many of the offline systems. MyHeritage is demonstrating the proper way to go. They are integrating their genealogical software program, Family Tree Builder, with their continual accessing of data. MyHeritage states if new acquisitions might be of interest to an individual researcher, their SmartMatch system will notify the user of the new acquisition. What will Ancestry have 10 or 20 years from now? Just billions and billions of records with no way for veteran users to know whether their new acquisitions are of value to them. There is nothing more frustrating to an intermediate or advanced researcher to go back periodically to sites such as FamilySearch or Ancestry to determine if new data has been acquired that is applicable to their research.

MyHeritage Adds 150,000 Books to Its Online Collection
MyHeritage has added more than 37 million pages from 150,000 books relevant to family history. The books span the last four centuries and include many types of books: family, local and military histories, city and county directories, school and university yearbooks, church and congregational minutes and others. All pages of the books were extracted, and there is a full word search engine at The collection will be submitted to the Record Matching feature, and users who have family trees at the MyHeritage site will be alerted when record matches are found for their family tree.

The announcement can be found at -of-digitized-books-now-available-on-myheritage.

FamilySearch Adds More Nearly 21 Million Records to Collection
Many Are of Interest to Persons with Jewish Ancestry
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 20 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Canada (Manitoba), Switzerland and the U.S. states of Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.

There are a number of notable additions for people researching their Jewish family history. They include:
   • Nearly 15M obituary items from (1980–2014)
   • Frankfurt, Germany, Deaths (1928–1978)
   • Additions to the index of Brazil Rio de Janeiro Immigration Cards (1900–1965)
   • Additions to the index of Connecticut District Court Naturalizations (1851–1992)

There may be more of interest to readers

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.

Reclaim the Records Seeks Public Access to New York City Marriage Index (1938–2015)
Brooke Schreier Ganz of Reclaim the Records has requested of the New York City Clerk’s Office a copy of the New York City Marriage Index for 1938–2015. The request is based on the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). The marriage index prior to 1938 is already on the Internet at

Our Chanukah Offering: Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries
at 44% Discount Extended until December 21

There was no issue of Nu? What’s Nu? last week, so we extended the deadline for offering Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries at 44% discount to tomorrow, Monday, December 21.

The retail price of the book is $39.00 plus shipping. Nu? What’s New? readers can purchase the book for only $22.00 plus shipping until December 21—a 44% discount. No need for a discount code. When checking out, the discount will be automatically taken. If ordering more than one copy, a $17.00 discount will be taken for each copy.

The book is both informative and interesting to read. The first chapter of this 256-page book, “A Brief History of Jewish Burial,” describes many of the customs associated with the ritual of burial. Chapter Two focuses on what genealogists want for their research: “How to Read a Jewish Gravestone.” Chapter Three deals with more than 25 different symbols that appear on tombstones.

Other chapters that make the book interesting reading are devoted to:
   • The burial location of more than 100 famous Jews with biographies of the individuals • A chapter on preserving cemeteries
   • A description of famous Jewish cemeteries and the location of major Nazi concentration camps    • A set of “Frequently Asked Questions” on such matters as Jewish cemetery architecture, prohibitions, burial organizations and much more
   • There is also a 820-year Hebrew year to secular year calendar converter (years 1200–2020). Additional information, including the complete Table of Contents and a sample chapter can be found at Announces Lectures for 2016
Millennia Corporation and have announced that registration is now open for its 2016 Legacy Family Tree Webinar Series. There are 62 classes ranging from genealogy technology, to DNA, to in-depth research methodologies. A complete list can be found at Registration is at

For additional information about the organization, visit its home page at It includes paid access to 284 previous webinars including handouts, chat logs and other services.

FamilySearch also has 16 genealogy related lectures online. The list can be found at

JOWBR Grows to More Than 2.7 Million Records: Major Addition of Records from Argentina
In a year-end report, JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) has 2,774 million records from nearly 6,000 cemeteries / cemetery sections representing 121 countries. The year-end update added 335,000 new records and 15,800 new photos. The database is located at

The most significant addition to JOWBR comes from the Association of Jewish Genealogy of Argentina (AJGA). Due to their efforts, JOWBR now contains approximately 225,000 records from Argentina and an additional 25,000 records from other South American countries. Through the years, I have had only casual contact with the Mokotows of Argentina. JOWBR now has provided me with 18 death dates for the Mokotow family—in a few cases also date of birth.

If you wish to volunteer to grow the JOWBR database, read the description for “Submitting Data to JOWBR” at Visit for a complete listing of cemeteries currently in the JOWBR database.

JewishGen Memorial Plaques Database Now Has More Than 105,000 Records
In its year-end update, JewishGen has announced that its Memorial Plaques Database now has more than 105,000 records. Memorial (yahrzeit) plaques exist on the walls of synagogues throughout the world to commemorate the death of a loved one. They typically contain the name of the individual, the religious name (which includes the given name of the person’s father) and date of death both by the secular and Jewish calendar.

The database is located at Information on volunteering to submit additional data can be found at Memorial/Submit.htm. A complete listing of institutions currently in the database is at

IAJGS Names Banquet Speaker for 2016 Conference
Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, will be the banquet speaker at the 2016 IAJGS Conference in Seattle, August 7–12, 2016. Russell has a website,, which focuses on legal aspects of family history research such as copyright, cemetery photos, opting in/out and other matters. Her biography is at

Center Planned to Emphasize Culture and Achievements of Lithuanian Jews
Jewish Heritage Europe reports that the director of the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum in Vilnius presented the concept for a planned new branch of the museum that, if carried out, would create a multifunctional center devoted to the culture and achievements of Lithuanian Jews. Director Markas Zingeris’s plan includes showcasing famous Litvaks who have contributed to culture and science. He emphasized the need to teach the Lithuanian public about Litvak achievements as part of their own history.

The complete article can be found at

Gesher Galicia Posts Five Interwar Poland Maps
Gesher Galicia has posted five maps of Poland as it existed between World War I and World War II. At that time, the country included parts of today’s Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine. The Gesher Galicia Map Room at contains many other maps of the region. (Click on the map name to link to the website.

The five new maps are:
   • Military Districts Map of Interwar Poland 1921
   • Administrative and Transport Map of Interwar Poland ca. 1927
   • Romer & WÄ…sowicz Map of Interwar Poland ca. 1930
   • Administrative Map of Interwar Poland, 1 April 1939
   • German Topographic, Transport, and Administrative Map of Poland 1939

Forward Newspaper Now Online at National Library of Israel
Rose Feldman of the Israel Genealogy Research Association reports that the National Library of Israel has digitized issues of the Forward (Forverts in Yiddish) from 1897–1949. The Forward, at that time, was the principal Yiddish-language newspaper in the United Sates. There is full-word indexing of the issues. You must, of course, search in Yiddish.

Information is available at

All-Israel Database Adds Individuals Who Made Aliyah from Hungary
The All-Israel Database located at now includes nearly 22,000 individuals who were candidates for aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Hungary in 1947 with an additional 1200 on Youth Aliyah. The source of the information is the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. The project is the work of the Israel Genealogy Research Association.

JewishGen Identifies Top 10 Myths of Jewish Family History Research
JewishGen has created a web page that identifies what it considers to be the top ten myths of Jewish family history research. Number 4, of course, is our name was changed at Ellis Island. Two others include (1) all the records were destroyed in the Holocaust and (2) our ancestral town no longer exists. The complete list and the actual facts concerning these myths can be found at

Montreal Gazette Online
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal notes that the Montreal Gazette is one of the newspapers included online at Google Newspapers. The search engine is for all newspapers in the collection, so include as part of the search parameter “Montreal Gazette” to limit the search to that publication. It can be found at A list of all the newspapers in the collection can be found at

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail a check to Avotaynu Foundation,  794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515, USA. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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