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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 16 | April 24, 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.

JewishGen Creates “Passover Companion”
We all know that family history is much more than finding records of our ancestors. It also delves into the question of what their lives were like. How Passover was celebrated in the Old Country is the topic of a new work by JewishGen titled “Passover Companion.” JewishGen has taken collections of historical and inspirational vignettes about Passover that are contained throughout JewishGen. They come primarily from yizkor books and KahilaLinks pages.

Below is a smaller sample of one of the Passover stories taken from the Krynki yizkor book.

Soon after Purim, Passover eve would arrive. After the hard winter with its cold and snow, came the season of our freedom together with the rebirth of nature. The contractors were busy baking matzah. The porter carried the first baked pieces of matzah to the wealthier citizens (each of them had paid well and he would wish them: “all manner of good”). Passover eve, when the contractors would be extra strict as they were baking matzah shmurah [watched with special care]. All the work, from the flour to putting them in oven – they would do with their own hands.

The children had new clothes and shoes for Passover. A child would be filled with grief if the tailor or the shoemaker could not manage to finish the clothes or the shoes. We schoolboys derived a special pleasure at Passover. After the hard winter with the deep snow, going home at night from school with a paper lantern (not once did paper catch fire on the way) we would, with the coming of Spring, feel like those arrested on being freed from jail. We ran straight away to Yenta's courtyard and Virion's forest and of course not forgetting playing with the nuts.

Passover Companion can be found as a PDF file at or online at

Tick, Tick, Tick. Time Is Running Out to Register Early for the Conference
The early registration deadline for the annual conference is April 30. Until then, the cost to register is $315 (not including special events, such as luncheons and the banquet). From May 1 through July 24, online registration will be $30 more. Onsite registration is $370. Take advantage of the discount for this remarkable event now. The complete program as well as registration can be found at

The site does not include one of the major advantages of the annual conference: networking. Get to meet hundreds of other people researching their Jewish family history. Get to speak to the experts one on one to discuss brick walls and strategy to tracing your family back in time.

Genealogy Roadshow Fourth Season Starts May 17
Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has announced the dates for the fourth season of Genealogy Roadshow. The dates and places are:
   • May 17 Albuquerque,NM
   • May 24 Miami,FL
   • May 31 Houston, TX
   • June 7 Our Favorite Stories
   • June 14 Boston, MA
   • June 21 Providence, RI
   • June 28 Los Angeles, CA
Check local listing for time of broadcast.

The program features three national family history experts who assist patrons in discovering records of their family’s history. Among this season’s problems: A man seeks to find out if he is descended from Boston’s key founders; a woman explores connections to an ancestor’s participation in the Manhattan Project; a couple hopes to recover the true story of their family pharmacy during Hollywood’s Golden Age; and a woman learns of her family’s involvement in the Trail of Tears.

A more detailed description of the program can be found at

Article: Three Things to Periodically Do in Your Genealogy Research
Ancestry Blog has a brief article on “3 Things to Periodically Do in Your Genealogy Research” written by Amy Crow, CG. It is worth the five minutes of time to read, because it may unearth something in the way you do research you may not have thought about. One item noted is “Review Your Notes.” It reminds me of a lecture I heard many years ago at a Federation of Genealogical Societies conference about getting around brick walls. One point the lecturer made at that time is review your notes. It may already have the answer to getting around your brick wall. It is one of the points Crow makes. You can read the column at

Ancestry Adds WWII Australian Military Data to Its Collection
Ancestry has added a new collection of Australian World War II military service records 1939–1945. A record lists name, date/place of birth, enlistment place, service number, next of kin and branch of service. The collection is at

Belarus SIG Site Has a New Look
The Belarus Special Interest Group of JewishGen has announced the have revamped their website. Established in 1998, the Belarus SIG, promotes Jewish genealogy research in Grodno, Minsk, Mogilev and Vitebsk guberniya as well as the Lida and Vileika uyzeds (districts) of Vilna guberniya.

The Belarus Records Inventory includes many new translations for various districts in Minsk and Mogilev. This inventory includes most known records in various archives in Belarus and the current status of Belarus district research. The new site also has a help and support desk to answer questions from site visitors.

According to a counter located on its front page, the site receives more than 200 visits per day. It is located at

JRI-Poland Adds 10,000 Gravestone Inscriptions
The Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland announced the addition of 10,000 Polish Jewish gravestone inscriptions to their database. These have been incorporated into the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland database at

In total, almost 50,000 new, updated or linked entries have been added to JRI-Poland recently. Another large batch will be uploaded prior to the Seattle conference in August. All told, the site includes between 5M and 6M records.

The organization announced that in addition to these new records now searchable in the JRI-Poland database, professionals have data entered tens of thousands of records that are not yet searchable online. These include entries for which there were previously only basic indices but now are fully extracted. The individual data sets will be searchable online as the cost for each town is fully covered. To donate to projects for the extraction of records for your town project, go to

“MyHeritage Community” Established
"MyHeritage Community" is the name of a new, question and answer hub for MyHeritage users to collaborate and help each other in typical genealogy quests such as locating long-lost relatives, translating historical documents, deciphering illegible handwriting, identifying unknown people in photos, or searching for elusive ancestors. It is built as an image-oriented forum, integrated into the MyHeritage website.

With 81 million registered users (of which more than 30 million have created family trees), located in practically every country around the world who speak the 42 languages supported by MyHeritage (and others), with the MyHeritage Community, you can receive assistance with your research, or help other users. Users can benefit from native language expertise. For example, a user from the U.S., who finds an ancestor's handwritten letter in Norwegian, can post an image of the letter and ask for translation. Another user from Norway will step forward and volunteer to translate it.

You access MyHeritage Community by clicking on the "Community" link in the footer. on the home page

The concept is not new to the Jewish genealogical community. Viewmate on JewishGen has been helping researchers with this problem for many years. People have posted to the Facebook Jewish Genealogy Portal established recently these very same items. The advantage of the MyHeritage Community is that it creates yet another function of the total MyHeritage offering.

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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