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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 6 | February 14, 2016
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
This issue is unusually long because there was no issue last Sunday.

Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.

Family Tree Maker Rescued recently announced that they were abandoning Family Tree Maker (FTM), which is possibly the most popular genealogical software package in the world. The announcement caused a furor in the genealogical community, and many competitive systems announced ways to port FTM data to their systems.

Now Ancestry has announced that the system has been rescued by a company called Software MacKiev who will support and grow FTM on both the Mac and Windows versions. Software MacKiev was the developer of FTM for Mac and has more than six years experience with the system. Users will have continued access to Ancestry Hints, Ancestry searches and be able to save their trees on Ancestry with Family Tree Maker moving forward.

In a second arrangement, Ancestry has agreed with RootsMagic, another genealogy desktop software program publisher, to connect Ancestry with the RootsMagic software by the end of 2016. With this new relationship, RootsMagic will have access to Ancestry hints, Ancestry searches, and the ability to save your tree on Ancestry.

Information about Software MacKiev can be found at Information about RootsMagic is at The announcement can be found at 2016/02/02/good-news-for-users-of-family-tree-maker.

Facebook Receiving Additional Restrictions from the European Union
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that France’s data protection regulator, CNIL, has ordered Facebook to stop transferring user data to the United States. The regulatory move is a result from the recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) invalidating the 15-year “Safe Harbor” agreement for data transfer between the EU and the United States. The three-month deadline for a new agreement between the EU and US expired last week, and while there is a new “agreement”, it is not yet operational, and the EU regulators have not seen anything in writing. The French data protection regulator is also the head of the EU regulators’ group, and this is the first action taken against a company transferring European’s data since the deadline of January 31 for a new transatlantic compact passed.

Additionally, CNIL gave Facebook three months to stop tracking (placing a cookie) web activity of browsers—non-Facebook users—without their consent or face substantial fines for not complying with the order. Additional information can be fond at

Rulings Against Google by European Union
Meanwhile, Meisels Allen reports that the European Union has stated that their regulations and edicts are to be considered extraterritorial—in other words cover the websites globally, not just in the EU. This resulted from a Court of Justice of the European Union May 2014 ruling on the “right to be forgotten” whereby residents of EU countries could ask search engines to remove inadequate or irrelevant information on links on the search engines—even if they are truthful. The US-based search engines and others have been saying the EU does not have the authority to govern what is on their websites outside of the European Union. The French data privacy regulatory Agency, CNIL threatened to fine Google if it did not scrub results from all of its websites regardless of location—upholding extraterritorial finding in a French court.

Google who has been a leader in fighting the extraterritorial edict has stated they will start scrubbing search results across all of its websites when accessed from a European country to soothe the objections of the EU privacy regulators. The company will filter search results according to a user's IP address, meaning people accessing Google from outside Europe will not be affected.

Additional information can be found at

Latest News About Annual Conference: Film Festival
Jewish film authority Eric Goldman has agreed to organize a film festival for the 36th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel from August 7–12. Goldman is putting together an array of 25 Jewish-themed films that will be one of the highpoints of this summer’s conference. Goldman stated it would “offer an amazing look at world Jewry and the various migrations that have impacted our people through the centuries. There will be a special focus on immigration to the United States.” He is a noted Jewish film scholar and teacher of cinema at Yeshiva University.

Other highlights of the 2016 conference include the opening night keynote address by Dr. Devin Naar, chair of the University of Washington Sephardic Studies Program, and the banquet address by “legal genealogist” Judy Russell, a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer. There are also planned Alaskan cruises before and after the conference.

The conference’s Early Registration period, which runs until April 30, offers the lowest fees, with savings of $55 for the full conference. The conference website,, has complete details on how to register for all levels of the conference. Once registered, you can make reservations at the Sheraton Hotel at a reduced rate. Those who cannot attend in person can sign up for Seattle 2016 Live!, a real-time video streaming service. Early registrants to Live! will receive a $70 discount off the August price.

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU Is In the Mail
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU is in the mail. It is 84 pages rather than the usual 68 because this is the annual issue that includes human interest stories. One is written by a tenth-grade Australian girl who wrote an essay as part of a school competition for the Jewish Historical & Genealogical Society of Western Australia. The criteria were to tell the story of their ancestors, including migrant experience that saw them arrive in Australia. Another article is about a Canadian man who discovered through his genealogical research that his late father, a decorated RAF pilot during World War II, was a German Jew who fled the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s. My contribution is to describe the amazing work of Evelyne Haendel, director of Family Search Services for the Hidden Child Foundation, who assists Hidden Children in understanding more about their circumstances when they were very young and hidden by Christian families or convents. She also performs the research at the request of Hidden Children to honor the people who saved them by having them awarded the Righteous Gentile award of Yad Vashem.

The lead article is by Brooke Schreier Ganz. She describes the history of how she managed to get microfilms from the New York City archives under the New York State Freedom of Information Law and concludes with her future plans. The second article is by Marlis Humphrey, president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), about her person experience doing genealogical research and how many of the elements apply to us all. The third article is by Hadassah Assouline, past Head Archivist of the Central Archives of the Jewish People, about “Quiet Weddings”’ in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It addresses the consequence of the fact that many Jewish weddings in the Empire were not documented with the government.

All told, there are 19 articles plus the usual columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask the Experts, Ask Dr. Beider About Names and book reviews. The complete Table of Contents can be found at

Special offer to non-subscribers. Subscribe to AVOTAYNU by February 22 and receive all four issues of 2016 plus the just-published Winter issue at no additional charge. Five issues for the price of four. Go to, place your order, and when checking out, use Coupon Code 5for4d for U.S./Canada and 5for4f for other countries.

Notice to current subscribers. If your subscription expired with the Winter issue, there will be a yellow-sheet insert which describes how to renew at a discount.

World Jewish Relief Allowing Inquiries About UK Refugees
Before, during and after World War II, more than 40,000 Jews came to the UK from Nazi-occupied Germany and Austria. A case file was opened for each person by World Jewish Relief in the 1930s and 40s. The files are available, free of charge, for family members who wish to find out more. Their personal records are now publicly available for the first time by World Jewish Relief.

The project involved digitizing thousands of pieces of paper which are held in the London Metropolitan Archives. The records include 10,000 case files of children who came to Britain on the Kindertransport in 1938 and 1939. Also included are the records of Jewish orphans, boys and girls who arrived in the UK in 1945–46.

Additional information can be found at for-hmd-released-uks-jewish-wartime-files. The request form can be found at

British Red Cross Index Cards of World War I Volunteers Online
The British Red Cross has nearly completed digitizing more than 90,000 index cards providing information about more than 90,000 volunteers during World War I. All records for surnames through the letter “V” have been digitized. The search engine can be found at origin/First-World-War.

Portions of 1939 German Minority Census Online
In May 1939, a census was conducted in Germany (including annexed Austria and the Sudetenland) that required the head of each household to declare if any of the resident's four grandparents were Jewish. If so, the database contains the names of all of the people living in the household. The information was transcribed onto sheets similar to census sheets (click image to the right to see example). Phyllis Kramer, JewishGen’s Vice President of Education, notes that portions of this census are now online at Undoubtedly for privacy restrictions, the searchable data includes only persons who can be proven to have perished in the Holocaust, those who were born prior to 1903 (+110 years ago), and others who were deceased prior to 1984 (+30 years ago).

Microfilm copies of the German Minority Census of 1939 are publicly available in the United States at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah; Leo Baeck Institute in New York and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. In Germany, a computerized version is available on an application basis at the Federal Archives in Berlin-Lichterfelde, and a copy of the census is in Israel at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. I have used the version at the Family History Library so I am familiar with the database.

Information in the online versionincludes name of person and date/place of birth. For married women, the maiden name is included.

FindMyPast Announces Partnerships with Other Genealogy Companies
RootsTech has provided the scene for FindMyPast to announce a number of partnerships with other genealogy-related companies.
   • The company announced it will host the newly expanded Digital Library of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. The partnership will provide additional membership benefits for the one of the nation’s oldest genealogical organizations, while also offering a stream of new content to FindMyPast growing collections.
   • They are partnering with FamilyTreeDNA to offer to its premium service annual subscribers a special discount on DNA testing.
   • They are partnering with BillionGraves to add more than 12 million grave marker indexes to family history websites and This content will be available on all three websites for free.
   • The company will partner with StoryPress of Austin, Texas, to make their story-telling platform available to FindMyPast’s global audience of family historians. The two companies have been working together to create StoryGuides specifically aimed at helping genealogists to bring their family history to life using audio, images and video.

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports additional FindMyPast partnerships with leading technology providers, namely RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, FamilySearch, Family-Historian, Puzzilla, and RootsCity.

Findmypast will make its vast record collection of more than 8 billion records available to customers via these partners. The rollout of these partnerships will begin in 2016, with exact dates to be detailed later. Customers using these various family history products will benefit from having FindMyPast’s record collection embedded within the actual product in ways that each partner determines will benefit their customers most.

FindMyPast Plans Major Online U.S. Marriage Collection
FindMyPast has announced that in 2016/17, they will be releasing the largest online collection of U.S. marriage records—more than 100 million—spanning centuries of American history. They claim 60 per cent of these records have never been published online. The collection spans 350 years of American history (1650–2010) and comprises more than 450 million names from 2,800 of the 3,000 counties in the United States. Those records already online—33 million in total—can be found at It apparently is a joint venture with FamilySearch.

FindMyPast Adds 3 Million New Zealand Vital Records
FindMyPast has added some 3M more birth, marriage and death index records from New Zealand. The birth and marriage indexes cover records from 120 or more years ago. The death index covers anyone who died at least 50 years ago. The birth index is at; death index at; and marriage index at Access is by subscription.

FamilyTreeWebinars Announces Program for 2016
FamilyTreeWebinars has disclosed 55 planned webinars for the balance of 2016. There is no charge for attending the webinar and for seven days thereafter. Beyond this time period there is a fee to watch the webinar. The company has accumulated 306 classes in genealogy education to date, all available for a monthly or yearly charge. The list of planned programs is at The company site at provides information about past programs.

JewishGen Planning Ask the Expert Session on Jewish Naming Patterns
JewishGen will host an “Ask the Expert: Jewish Naming Patterns” session this Tuesday, February 16 at noon ET. Warren Blatt, Managing Director of JewishGen, will answer questions about the history and patterns of Jewish first names, and how to recognize your ancestors' names in genealogical sources. To participate, submit your question to At the time of the session, JewishGen will post your question, along with an answer, on their Facebook page at Blatt will be online during the session, so if there is a follow-up question or comment, he will be available to respond. When the session is complete, everything will be placed into a JewishGen InfoFile.

Ukraine SIG Achieves Milestone in Membership
The Ukrainian Special Interest Group (SIG) of JewishGen has announced a milestone. Their membership now exceeds 3,700 members. You can subscribe to any of the more than 30 JewishGen SIGs at

Central Database of Shoah Victims Database Has New Look
Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims Database has a new look. The new platform is cleaner and more user friendly. 
To access the new website go to One useful feature is when a person is found in the database, clicking on the first name opens a window which provides vital information about the person, including a link to the actual Page of Testimony. Previously, a new page was created and the back button was required to get back to the list. This new feature is a much faster solution to browsing the names. There is also a “Map” button that will produce a map showing the places named in the Page of Testimony for the person.

I have not used this database for some time to search for Mokotow relatives. One feature added in recent years has mixed consequences. When a Page of Testimony had the person’s name in both Latin and Hebrew characters, the Hebrew version has been transliterated into Latin characters and added to the database. In one case, a woman is listed as Mashe Moshe Mokotow. Her name was Mashe Mokotow, but in Hebrew, Mashe is spelled identically to Moshe.

The new version allows access in English, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish and German. The database has collected and recorded names and biographical information on 4.5 million of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Germans and their collaborators.

Cynthia Wroclawski who headed the Shoah Names Recovery Project has been appointed to the position of Deputy Director of the Archives Division. The two people who now head the Names Recovery Project are Sara Berkowitz and Olga Litwak.

New TV Series About Long Lost Family
Ancestry and The Learning Channel (TLC) have teamed up to create a new series featuring people who suffered a lifetime of separation and are yearning to be reunited with their birthparents and biological families or find children they had to place up for adoption long ago. Called Long Lost Family,” it will air starting March 6 at 10ET on TLC for eight episodes.

The series will be produced by Shed Media the same firm that produces Who Do You Think You Are which is also partnered with Ancestry. Additional information can be found at (Canada) Records Available At No Charge Through February 15
Also Ancestry Makes UK/Irish Records Available At No Charge is celebrating Canadian Family Day, February 15, by offering free access to all records and including census and passenger lists through February 15. To search the databases go to Registration is required.

Ancestry is also offering free access to more than 1 billion Irish and UK records in featured collections through February 15. This is not their entire collection of Irish/UK records. If you search records not in the featured collections, you will be prompted to subscribe. The search engine can be found at

Call for Papers for the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies Conference
The Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies has issued a call for papers for their conference which will be held June 26–28 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Deadline for program submission is February 15. Information about submitting proposals can be found at

The organization invites papers on crypto-Judaism from any discipline (e.g., anthropology, history, sociology, philosophy, literature, music, art history, etc.) and from any geographic location or time period. They are particularly interested in papers that explore questions of crypto-Jewish identity, both historically and contemporarily.

Last week I attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City. I came away with mixed impressions about the conference. My principal complaint was there was not enough organization to the lectures. There were typically 15–20 concurrent sessions on random topics. Most major conferences have tracks, that is, a series of lectures during the day on specific topics. This did not exist at RootsTech.

For Jewish genealogists, there was nothing specific. One lecture was titled “Tracing Your European Ancestors.” Does that imply that tracing French ancestors is similar to Italian or similar to Polish genealogy? Another lecture, “Finding & Analyzing Passenger & Customs Lists” included a description which stated “If as many ancestors came through Ellis Island as families are led to believe, the island would have sunk!” Yes, Mr. Lecturer, more than 20 million people passed through Ellis Island, and if all has been standing on the island at one time, ignoring geological considerations, perhaps it would have sunk. There was only one lecture about Jewish genealogy, “The Nuts and Bolts of Jewish Genealogy,” present by IAJGS vice-president Ken Bravo. Such a lecture is valuable to non-Jews who have discovered they have Jewish roots or have other motivations to do Jewish genealogical research.

Most amazing was the vendor exhibit area. There were nearly 100 exhibitors. It demonstrates how much the genealogy industry has grown. New Collection: Alberta Homestead Records (1870–1930)
Not every Jewish immigrant who came to North America became a tailor. A few became farmers in the United States and Canada. has added a land record collection that includes the names of approximately 200,000 people who applied for homesteads in Alberta under the Dominion Lands Act—an 1872 law aimed to encourage the settlement of the Canadian prairies. The collection contains 1.6M images and more than 200,000 records showing basic biographical information such as applicants’ name, age, place of birth, former place of residence, date of entry on the land and marital status. Ten of the records are for persons named Cohen. The collection can be found at

Video on History of the Jews of Brazil
A posting to JewishGen notes that there is a 28-minute documentary on the history of the Jews of Brazil on YouTube at

More About Posen KehilaLinks Project
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? reported a new website on JewishGen’s KehilaLinks that covers all 122 towns in which Jews lived in Posen Province as well as other locations in the province for the period 1772 to about 1923. It the result of more than 28 years of research by Edward David Luft. It is a source of both published and archival entries, totaling 1,990 pages and contains about 10,000 annotated citations of books, articles and archival fonds on the subject. It should have been noted that the web design was by Eli Rabinowitz of Australia who devoted countless hours to creating this huge website. The Luft/Rabinowitz project can be found at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Download Pages of Testimony Forms.”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2016, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To change an e-mail address, send a request to

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 
794 Edgewood Ave.; New Haven, CT 06515

Telephone  (U.S.) : 475-202-6575