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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 41 | October 16, 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.

ITS Plans to Place More of Its Collection Online
In conjunction with a visit from the German Commissioner of Culture, the director of the International Tracing Service stated that ITS aims to make its documents available to even more people around the world for research and education, as well as personal exploration. “The new ITS Online Archive is a window into the ITS collection on the web. We want to open this window even wider, because the value of the archive grows with the number of people using it,” said ITS Director Floriane Hohenberg, explaining the main goal of the ITS for the coming years.

The International Tracing Service, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, is an archive and a center for documenting Nazi persecution and the liberated survivors. Out of the more than 30 million documents about an estimated 55 million persons, former victims of Nazism and their families receive information regarding their incarceration, forced labor, and postwar allied assistance. The documents in the ITS archives provide the basis for research and education. In continuing to fulfill these responsibilities, the ITS is part of an international cooperation with memorial sites, archives and research institutes.

The ITS is governed by representatives from 11 member states: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom and U.S. The German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media funds ITS. The German Federal Archives is the institutional partner. The index to their collection is available at one site within each member state. For Israel, it is Yad Vashem, and for the United States it is the Holocaust Memorial Museum. ITS and those sites that have the index accept inquiries from individuals.

Current collections online include:
    •  Effects Reserved at the ITS
    •  Inquiries by Allies on "Death Marches"
    •  Child Search Branch

The ITS website is at The digital archives is located at

Place Your Family Tree On Multiple Sites
It is becoming increasingly advantageous to place your family tree online on multiple Internet sites. This is because many of these sites are automatically matching their record collections against your family tree. MyHeritage has been doing it for some time with their Record Matching feature. Now FamilySearch has a “Hints” system that will compare members of your tree against their indexed collections. It is not unreasonable that Ancestry will be doing it soon bowing to pressure from competition.

Equally powerful is the tree-to-tree function where persons on your family tree are matched against persons on other family trees. The most useful function I have found of this feature is it allows you to contact the person who submitted the other tree and compare notes about mutual family. I have found only one significant drawback to the feature. Geni was acquired by MyHeritage; consequently, Geni trees are matched against MyHeritage trees. I have my family tree on both sites, so I get notices of matches against myself.

Wanted: Human Interest Stories for Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
We now are working on the final stages of getting the Fall issue of AVOTAYNU into print, but we are also looking ahead to the Winter issue which is special in two ways. For the past 30 years, AVOTAYNU has devoted a portion of each Winter issue to genealogy human interest stories. Stories are typically about how genealogy affected people’s lives, whether it be the researcher or the people they are researching. Deadline for submission this year is December 1, 2016. If you would like to share such a story with AVOTAYNU subscribers, submit it by e-mail to When possible, illustrations should accompany the article. In 2008, Avotaynu published 72 of these human interest stories in a book, Every Family Has a Story.” A sample story in the book that originally appeared in the Winter 1998 issue of AVOTAYNU can be read at

New Family Histories In Print. Also in the Winter issue, AVOTAYNU lists Jewish genealogical family histories that have been published in the preceding 12 months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported. Please present information about the book in a specific format: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Submit the information by e-mail to The deadline date is also December 1. You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

We Are Now Shipping Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy: 2016–2017 Edition
The response was so overwhelming to our new version of Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy: 2016
2017 edition, that the most recent orders will not be shipped until tomorrow (Monday). It has been regularly updated since 2010 because of the dynamic growth of Jewish genealogy research. For example, new additions to the 2016–2017 version are descriptions of Avotaynu Online, Jewish Genealogy Portal on Facebook and the Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy website. The MyHeritage description has been updated to reflect the additional functionality of the site.

Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy is the most popular of the more than 70 books Avotaynu has published since 1991. More than 3,000 copies have been sold. It is not a beginner’s guide, but a primer to demonstrate that there is a world of records and resources to help you to trace your Jewish family history. The book is only 104 pages, making it quick reading, yet it holds a wealth of information.

Additional information, including the Table of Contents, is available at The price is $16.50 plus shipping. Avotaynu offers the book to Jewish genealogical societies at half price when at least 20 copies are ordered. Some societies distribute the book at no charge to new members who are starting to research their Jewish roots. Others use it as part of beginners’ workshops.

Family History Library Begins Construction of New Discovery Center
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has begun construction of a Family History Discovery Center. When complete, the main floor attraction will create family history experiences for patrons of all ages. The project is expected to be completed in February 2017.

The activities designed for the Discovery Center are part of an organizational effort to introduce more people to the many fun facets of personal and family discovery. FamilySearch states that if individuals and families have fun, personalized, quick successes and experiences with their family’s history, they will continue to be more involved at different levels throughout their lives. It also deepens appreciation for family connections across multiple generations.

Additional information about the Center can be found at family-history-library-begins-construction-of-new-discovery-center/.

FamilySearch Adds 2.2 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, about 2.2 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Argentina (church records), Belgium. Columbia, Germany, New Zealand, Philippines and the U.S. states of Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee.

Most notable are images of New Zealand Probate Records 1843–1998 and additions to the Belgium civil registration indexes.

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.

IGRA to Hold Webinar on Israeli Immigration
In honor of Aliyah Day, IGRA (Israel Genealogy Research Association) will be holding a free webinar on Sunday, November 6 at 1pm EST, 8pm IST, entitled “Waves of Immigration to Israel.” Garri Regev, past president of IGRA, will present an overview of the records available on IGRA's website of those who attempted to or were successful in making aliyah (immigration) to Israel. Pre-registration is required as there are a limited number of seats.

To register go to

Course on “Researching Your Roots Using JewishGen” Begins November 1
Phyllis Kramer, Vice President of Education will present a four-week, mentored course that will delve into JewishGen's rich resources. The course material includes seven text-based lessons (15–20 pages each), delivered online (which can be downloaded) with hundreds of links and suggestions.

Because it is a mentored course, participants will have an instructor who will personally respond to questions, make suggestions and assist in researching personal family history...24/7.

The program will help participants build an effective research plan, manage data and give tips and techniques to overcome research obstacles. Requirements: Students must be comfortable browsing the Internet and downloading files and have 8–10 hours per week to organize papers, read lessons, search online and interact with the course’s Forum.

Tuition is $125. There will be a maximum of 15 students. More details and enrollment can be found at

IIJG Announces a Research Award to Dr. Michaël Gasperoni
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) has announced an award to Dr. Michaël Gasperoni of the Ecole française de Rome for a research proposal entitled “Reconstructing and Analyzing a Jewish Genealogical Network: The Case of the Roman Ghetto (17th–18th century)”.

Gasperoni’s goal is to reconstruct the entire population of the ghetto in Rome over a period of some 270 years, by focusing on the 1733 Census and linking the results with the 1527, 1571 and 1796 Censuses, which have already been published. He plans to set up a genealogical dataset accessible to the scientific community and genealogists in general, and to present the methodological tools that can serve as a basis for future studies of this kind.

It is expected that his work will contribute to our knowledge of social and familial practices within ghetto populations, based on a statistical analysis of kinship relations, reconstructed through the genealogical dataset at the center of this project. Within that, Gasperoni will offer the first systematic investigation into matrimonial practices of the Roman Jewish population in the modern period, as conditioned by Jewish marriage law and the rules of patrimonial transmission. In the process, he proposes to focus on the impact of the ghettoization on social structures and, in particular, on the role of women and migratory phenomena that can bring about matrimonial exchanges between different communities.

The IIJG website is 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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