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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 10 | March 13, 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.

HIAS Changing Mission, Moves to Maryland
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) has moved its main headquarters to Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. The motivation is good news to Jews. The level of need for Jews to relocate and be helped by this organization has dropped so low, that they are now focusing primarily on non-Jewish refugees. Visit their website at and you will not see the word “Hebrew” or “Jew” on the home page. Their home page states “HIAS works around the world to protect refugees who have been forced to flee their homelands because of who they are, including ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. For more than 130 years, HIAS has been helping refugees rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.”

One report states that in the future they will refer to themselves only as “HIAS,” dropping the origin of the acronym which includes the word “Hebrew.” Additional information can be found at

What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?
The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is a process used by genealogists to demonstrate what the minimums are that genealogists must do for their work to be credible. Based on a book written by Christine Rose entitled Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, this standard lays out five essential steps for accurate research:
   • Reasonably exhaustive research has been completed.
   • Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.
   • The evidence is reliable and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted.
   • Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.
   • The conclusion has been soundly reasoned and coherently written.

You can read more about GPS at

USCIS Planning Webinar on Ellis Island Processing
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCI) will hold a seminar on Friday, March 25 at 1pm ET on “Ellis Island Processing: The Case of Nanny (Fanny) Knowles.” This web meeting will not be recorded, so you must watch it live.

The webinar is based on questions submitted by a researcher about a passenger list documenting Fanny Knowles' arrival, hearing, and admission at Ellis Island in 1919. Thirteen year-old Fanny was excluded as an unaccompanied minor, despite the fact she traveled with her adult sister Edith, who was a U.S. citizen. How were families processed when some were citizens and some were aliens? Was Fanny really “alone”? What resources exist to help explain more about Ellis Island (or other U.S. ports of entry) processing? These and other questions will be discussed and explored in the webinar.

Additional information can be found at

Top 100 Genealogy Websites has published its annual top 100 genealogy sites based on the number of visits to the site. continues to be number one. Jostling for the top five sites, MyHeritage is now in fourth place beating out Family Tree DNA rose to 11th place from 14th. JewishGen dropped to 38th from last year’s position of 33rd. The Steve Morse site rose to 50 from 55. The complete list can be found at articles/top-100-genealogy-websites-of-2016-page02.html.

Pamela Weisberger Memorial Lecture Planned for Annual Conference
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles (JGSLA) has announced the first Pamela Weisberger Memorial Lecture (PWML) to be given at the 36th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy on Monday, August 8 at 8:30 pm. The speaker is Samuel Kassow who is Charles Northam Professor of History at Trinity College and the Jacob Kronhill Visiting Scholar in Eastern European Jewish History at YIVO Institute. The title of the lecture is “History and Catastrophe: The Secret Warsaw Ghetto Archive of Emanuel Ringelblum.”

This is the first in a planned series of lectures to honor the memory of Pamela Weisberger (1951–2015). Pamela had a major impact on the lives of many in the global Jewish genealogical community including a leadership role in JGSLA from 2003–2015. She was also the president of the Special Interest Group, Gesher Galicia, for eight years. Weisberger also lectured extensively at genealogical conferences and to societies in different parts of the world. Depending on funding, the PWML will sponsor a series of distinguished lectures of Jewish genealogical interest at various future genealogical conferences. For more information on how to contribute to the Pamela Weisberger Memorial Lecture fund see

MyHeritage Creates Webinar on “Getting Started with Your Family History”
MyHeritage has created an hour-and-a-half webinar on “Getting Started with Your Family History.” The presenter is Schelly Talalay Dardashti. This is just one of many webinars that are available from MyHeritage. A complete list can be found at

1930 Valuation Rolls For Scotland Accessible At No Charge Through March 17
Scotlands People has made the 1930 Valuation Rolls available to search at no charge through March 17. Valuation rolls are almost like a census in that they identify every house or piece of ground, along with the name and designation of the proprietor, tenant and occupier, and the annual rateable value. The Scotlands People database includes 2.5 million indexed names. Search the rolls at There is a cost to view the actual records.

Plans Call For Restoration of Glasgow Jewish Cemeteries
The Jewish community of Glasgow, Scotland, is in the process of restoring the Jewish cemeteries of the city. One aspect is that they have recently completed photographing about 10,000 tombstones and placed them online. They have also completed work renovating the oldest/earliest Jewish cemetery in Glasgow that dates from 1832. Information about the project can be found at Search the cemeteries database at

Information about all the cemeteries can be found at the IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project website: The IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project provides information about thousands of Jewish cemetery sites all over the world along with information on the location of the cemetery, and how to obtain more information. It is located at

DNA and Genealogy Featured at Ontario Conference
Yet another example of how DNA testing is the hot item in Jewish family history research, the Jewish Genealogy Society of Toronto has partnered with the Ontario Genealogical Society in the latter’s June 3–5 conference: “Genealogy on the Cutting Edge” JGS Toronto is sponsoring a “Jewish Stream” that features Lara Diamond of Lara’s Family Search, Israel Pickholtz an authority on endogamy, and Daniel Horowitz of My Heritage. Information about the conference can be found at

JRI-Poland Provides Documentation About World’s Oldest Man
Israel Kristal, aged 112, has been declared the world’s oldest living man and JRI-Poland Poland played the key role in the search for documentation to prove his age. Although Kristal's birth record could not be found, JRI-Poland was able to locate other documents that provided the conclusive evidence needed by Guinness World Records to accept his 1903 birth year. Kristal, an Auschwitz survivor, lives in Haifa. Information about him can be found at

Final Reminder to AVOTAYNU Resubscribers: Renewal Deadline March 15
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 (March 31 for subscribers outside North America) 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

Ignore Article About Lack of Mother’s Name On UK Birth Certificates
Last week’s Nu? What’s New? included a statement that the British Parliament was considering including previously omitted mother’s name on birth and marriage records. The information was inaccurate. Ignore the posting. It has been deleted from the Nu? What’s New? archives.

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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 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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