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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 9 | March 6, 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
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information. Offer of Free Access to Irish Collection Through March 31 Includes UK Records is offering free access to all of its 55 million Irish records through March 31. I tested collections for Jewish content by searching for the surname Cohen (sometimes Levy). A test of this Irish Collection discovered that the records include a record group called “United Kingdom and Ireland Obituary Collection.” They are obituaries extracted from newspapers throughout the UK as well as Ireland. The one person named Cohen that was extracted included information about his name, obituary date, newspaper location (in this case, London), spouse’s name and children’s name.

Registration is required to view the collection. To access the collection, go to

JGSLI Now Has 15 Instructional Videos on YouTube
The Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island (JGSLI) has announced that its latest instructional video on YouTube is “4 Census Reports Beyond the Regular 10 Year Federal Census.” Videos are typically about five minutes in length. A list can be found at or from the JGSLI website The society was the winner of the IAJGS Outstanding Publication Award in 2015 for its YouTube programs.

Spring Season of Who Do You Think You Are? Starts April 3
A new season of Who Do You Think You Are? returns April 3 at 9pm ET on The Learning Channel (TLC). The program features celebrities tracing their family ancestry. Personalities for the upcoming season include: Scott Foley, Lea Michele, Chris Noth, Molly Ringwald, Katey Sagal and Aisha Tyler. Once again, Ancestry will sponsor the upcoming season.

Additional information is at

Cyndi's List Is 20 Years Old
Cyndi's List at is celebrating its 20th anniversary on March 4, 1996 by professional genealogist Cyndi Ingle. It is a list of links to other website of value to genealogists. It currently contains more than 330,000 links. Fortunately they are categorized to allow users to hone down on specific topics. For example, the Jewish section contains 750 links. But they are further divided into 26 subcategories such as Birth/Marriage/Death, Blogs, Cemeteries & Funeral Homes, Census, etc. Census is further divided into specific sites including:
   • Belarus and Lithuania: Census & Family Lists from Various Districts, 1795-1900
   • Hungary: All Citizen Census, 1869
   • Hungary: Assorted Census Records, 1781–1850
   • Hungary: Jewish Census, 1848
   • Hungary: Jewish Names in Property Tax Census, 1828
   • Poland: Będzin Jewish Census, 1939

The purpose of Cyndi's List remains the same today, 20 years after its creation: to be a free jumping-off point and a catalog for the immense genealogical collection that is the Internet. It is all done not by software, but by a live human being. Every link found on Cyndi's List is personally visited, titled, given a description, categorized, and cross-referenced across the site. Cyndi Ingle is the creator and owner of Cyndi's List. The site is a one-woman enterprise in which Cyndi often works 10–12 hours each day, many times 7 days a week. Users of Cyndi's List are encouraged to submit new links and report broken links, all in an effort to keep Cyndi's List as current as possible.

Share Fair Again Planned for Seattle Conference
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies will once again start its annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy with a Share Fair. This event allows non-profit organizations involved in or supporting Jewish genealogy to tell conference registrants about themselves and answer questions from these registrants. Each organization has its own booth. This summer’s Share Fair will be from 1:30 to 5:00 pm on August 7, the first day of the conference. More than 30 organizations will participate.

“The Share Fair is traditionally the high point of opening day,” notes Nolan Altman, the Fair’s coordinator. “It offers Jewish genealogical societies, historical societies, archives, and libraries an opportunity to show and tell what they do.” Jewish genealogical SIGs (Special Interest Groups) including JRI-Poland, Gesher Galicia and BOFs (Birds Of A Feather) will have tables staffed with experts to answer questions, register new members, and distribute informational literature.”

The Seattle conference, which runs from August 7 to 12, is expected to draw upwards of 1,000 family researchers and genealogical experts from around the world. Presentations, panel discussions, and info sessions will take in the full global sweep of the Jewish history, including the Sephardic experience, European migrations, and Jews in the Western U.S.

Additional information about the conference can be found at

IIJG Issues Annual Call for Research Proposals
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy has issued its annual Call for Research Proposals for original research in the field of Jewish genealogy to be carried out during the academic year of 2016–17. Successful applicants will be awarded grants of up to $10,000. Proposals are requested by May 31, 2016. They must meet strict standards of academic excellence and will be judged by the extent to which they broaden the horizons of Jewish genealogical research and/or create innovative tools or technologies to assist Jewish genealogists and family historians in their work. “Instructions to Applicants” are at the Institute’s website,, under “RESEARCH”/“Research Grants”. IIJG states these instructions should be followed carefully, as only applications in correct form will be considered. Successful applicants will be announced in September.

IIJG Needs More Volunteers for Jacobi Project
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center is nearly finished with its project of capturing the information of the late Paul Jacobi's 114 typewritten genealogical studies on European rabbinical and other prominent Jewish families (see They now need volunteers to perform proofreading of the extracted text. The task requires a good knowledge of the English language. Interested persons should contact Ami Elyasaf, IIJG Director at

MyHeritage Adds More Than 5 Million Dutch Records
MyHeritage has added more than 5M Dutch records including birth, marriage and death records from the Rotterdam City Archives.
The three collections included are:
   • Rotterdam, Netherlands, Death Index, 1811–1960 Records typically include names, death dates, death places, spouse’s names, parents’ names, marital status, and birthplaces.
   • Rotterdam, Netherlands, Birth Index, 1811–1913 Records typically include child's name, parents’ names, and child’s birth date and place.
   • Rotterdam, Netherlands, Marriage Index, 1811–1935 Records typically include names, ages, birthplaces, and parents of bride and groom, and marriage date and place.

Additional information is at

TheGenealogist Releases WWII Prisoner of War Records
The UK website has added 150,000 World War II prisoner of war records to its military records collection. This will allow researchers to discover servicemen held by the Germans between 1939–1945. Covering the German camps in Europe, these lists are taken from official alphabetical nominal registers and reveal names and other particulars of:
   • 94,608 British POWs in Germany, including Officers and other ranks
   • 39,805 POWs from Empire Land Forces
   • 19,250 Naval & Air Force POWs from Britain & its Empire

TheGenealogist already has a range of military records that span from 1661 to the 1940s. Additional information can be found at

Georgetown University Gets $10 Million for Holocaust Research
Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution, has received a $10 million gift for research on the Holocaust. With this gift from Miami philanthropists Norman and Irma Braman—who are Jewish— the center will then have a total endowment of $20 million. The Jewish studies program in the university’s School of Foreign Service will be formally renamed the Center for Jewish Civilization.
Among the center’s faculty is the Rev. Patrick Desbois (right), a Holocaust historian whose has documented mass graves of Jews in Eastern Europe. Author of a book called The Holocaust by Bullets, Desbois will hold an endowed professorship through the Braman gift.
Additional information can be found at

Reminder #2 to AVOTAYNU Subscribers
If you are a subscriber to AVOTAYNU and received a yellow slip with the Winter issue, it means your subscription expired with that issue. Be sure to resubscribe by March 15 to get the discounted resubscription offer and be entered in a drawing that will award to the winner a copy of any book published by Avotaynu. There will be three winners of the drawing to be held on April 15. Consider owning a copy of Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy or Alexander Beider's landmark A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition.

Renew for two years and you will receive two opportunities to win; renew for three years and receive three opportunities to win. Winners will be announced in the issue of Nu? What's New? that appears after the drawing and also will be notified by postal mail. Remember, you must resubscribe by March 15 to be part of the drawing. Renew at

Clarification of Avotaynu’s Ventures
Life was simple in 1985 when Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus and I formed Avotaynu Inc for the purpose of publishing a semi-annual journal of Jewish genealogy. In the past 31 years, Avotaynu Inc has become involved in many other ventures that have caused confusion among some genealogists, so below is a description of all our ventures.

AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, has been published quarterly for the past 31 years. Each issue is typically 68 pages and contains 15–20 in-depth articles about advances in Jewish genealogy and often a Jewish history background. The “From Our Contributing Editors” column includes reports from up to 19 persons providing information of interest in their country. “U.S Update” summarizes the contents of the newsletters of U.S. Jewish genealogical societies. The “Ask the Experts” column is becoming a bit obsolete with Internet access to persons who can answer genealogy-related questions. There are book reviews and letters to the editor (“From Our Mailbox”). An annual subscription in $38 ($46 outside North America). Subscribe at

Nu? What’s New?. Now in its 17th year, it is the “The Email Magazine of Jewish Genealogy from Avotaynu.” Published typically every Sunday, it keeps its readers abreast of the latest happenings that effect family history research. An archives of past issues has a Google search engine at An annual subscription is only $12. You can subscribe at

Avotaynu Books. Since 1991, Avotaynu has published more than 70 books to assist people in their family history research. Five have won awards: Where Once We WalkedA Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian EmpireA Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland (out of print), Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy and Sephardic Genealogy. A complete list of books we offer can be found at

Avotaynu Foundation. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization originally created to publish books of value to Jewish genealogists that are not commercially viable. An example is Polish Resources at the Central Archives for the Jewish People published in 2004. It is now also being used to support the Avotaynu DNA Project and contributions to the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.

Friends of IIJG. U.S. citizens can make tax-deductible contributions to the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy through Avotaynu Foundation. Donate at

Avotaynu Online. This is our latest venture. The brain-child of Adam Brown, Avotaynu Online intends to stimulate collaboration among genealogists and historians in all its forms, with a particular focus on Jewish genealogy. Leading participants will give in-depth reports on events and discoveries in all areas of interest to genealogists, with a particular attention being paid to the following subject areas:
   • Conferences and meetings
   • DNA projects
   • Online family trees
   • Social networking
   • New genealogical standards suitable for the Internet age
   • Developments in related fields (i.e., history, law, computer science) that have an impact on Jewish genealogy and family history.

Its website is at It is available a no charge.

Avotaynu DNA Project. DNA testing is an unparalleled genealogical resource, yet 15 years after the inception of genetic genealogy many genealogists and family historians remain unclear about its use. As a result, DNA testing is underutilized and potential knowledge goes unrealized. To remedy this situation, Avotaynu Foundation has taken the lead in forming the Avotaynu DNA Project, a collaboration of experienced Jewish DNA project administrators, historians and geneticists worldwide whose mission is to develop an online knowledge base that will enable historians, scientists and genealogists to further illuminate the history of the Jewish People. Additional information is at

Have You Registered to Receive Notices from Avotaynu Online?

Have you subscribed to Avotaynu’s latest venture: Avotaynu Online? We have created a special sign-on site at By registering, you will receive a weekly notice of items added to the site.

By virtue of its focus on the in-depth reporting of specific subjects, Avotaynu Online will be entirely distinct from the existing print journal, AVOTAYNU, which for over three decades has covered the broad spectrum of Jewish family history research, and from the weekly Nu? What’s New?, which reports breaking stories in the world of genealogy.

 Avotaynu Online is free of charge. 

Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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