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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 43 | October 30, 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.

LAC Launches First World War Personnel Records Database
Library Archives Canada has created an updated version of their “Service Files of the First World War, 1914–1918 – CEF” database. The new database, now called “Personnel Records of the First World War”, provides access to the service files of members of Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) along with records for other First World War personnel.

The new database includes records for the following groups:
Canadian Expeditionary Force
   • Imperial War Service Gratuities recipients
   • Non-Permanent Active Militia
   • Rejected CEF volunteers
   • Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps

Search for records at The announcement can be found at

Ancestry Creates “We’re Related” App
Ancestry has created an app called “We’re Related” that will match your name against all the family trees (70 million) at its site. The promotional material induces the reader with pictures of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Louis Armstrong, George Washington and other notables implying perhaps you are related to a person of note.

I tried the app and the one family tree it linked me to had more than 5,000 entries. I would have had to browse through all (many) to find the link. The app may be of use to encourage non-genealogists to trace their ancestry when they find they are on the family trees of others who have submitted data to Ancestry. Information about the app can be found at

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 7 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 7 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Benin, Czech Republic, Ghana, Netherlands, Russia (church records), Sweden (church records) and the U.S. states of Florida, Maine, Missouri and New Jersey.

Most notable for persons with Jewish family history are 1.6 million images added to their Czech Republic Censuses and Inhabitant Registers 1800–1990.

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.

NARA Website Goes Mobile Friendly, the website of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), states they are now mobile friendly. The most recent changes to focus on the underlying infrastructure of the site and not on the front-end design. They have re-coded the page templates using a technique called responsive web design. This automatically scales down the display of a website for smaller screen sizes. The layout of pages change based on your device. For example, only a single column is displayed on a smartphone, whereas three columns of content appear on a larger desktop screen. This technique allows NARA to make the most of the limited real estate on smaller devices.

More than 8 million people a year use their site on a tablet or smartphone. This represents more than a third of their visitors. Additional information can be found at

Video: Getting Started Right: Documentation for New Genealogists
One of the top American genealogists has produced for Ancestry a brief, four-minute presentation of the importance of documentation. Designed for new genealogists, it would be worth viewing by veteran researchers as well to confirm they are practicing proper documentation of their research. The presentation is by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS (Doctor of Philosophy, Certified Genealogist, Certified Genealogical Lecturer, Fellow American Society of Genealogists, Fellow Utah Genealogical Association, Fellow National Genealogical Society).

The lecture is at Ancestry offers a large number of online genealogy courses; some for a fee, others at no charge. They can be found at

Bessarabia Cemetery Projects Show Progress
The Bessarabia Special Interest Group (SIG) reports that the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) now has indexes and/or photos for 38 cemeteries in the Bessarabia region with a total of more than 42,086 burials (records). The total number of cemeteries is 73. A list of Jewish cemeteries in Bessarabia/Moldova is at the Bessarabia SIG website at

Donations are needed to pay for photographing the tombstones and translation from Russian and Hebrew. (Volunteer for the translation project if you have the skill.) Make your donation at

Wanted: U.S. Update Editor
For the past 20 years. Diane Goldman of Washington DC, has done a wonderful job as U.S. Update editor for AVOTAYNU. Now she wishes to retire from the position. “U.S. Update” is a column that summarizes the contents of newsletters of the Jewish Genealogical Societies in the United States. If you are interested in volunteering for the position, please contact AVOTAYNU editor Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus at If you take the position, you will receive society newsletters either in print or as PDF files and abstract its contents, usually a sentence or two about the major articles. You will also receive a complimentary copy of each issue of AVOTAYNU.

The benefit to you is you have a chance to read all these newsletters which may contain information relevant to your research that you found nowhere else. You will also be joining a team of writers/editors who have been providing useful information for Jewish family history research for the past 32 years.

New Book: History of the Jewish Community of Schönlanke 1736–1940
Peter Simonstein Cullman has produced yet another magnificent history/yizkor book about a German town that today is in Poland. History of the Jewish Community of Schönlanke 1736–1940 represents six years of meticulous research into the more than 200-year history of the Jewish community of Schönlanke (today Trzcianka, Poland).

Cullman previously wrote “History of the Jewish Community of Schneidemühl: 1641 to the Holocaust.” Schneidemühl is today Piła, Poland. Town officials have expressed interest in having the book translated into Polish.

The Schönlanke book’s narrative commences with an illustration of the Jewish existence in German lands in the age of Charlemagne, the birth of the Polish nation and the impact of geopolitical upheavals on Jewish life, while extraordinary heights of Jewish culture were reached in 16th-century Poland. The reader is led to witness the evolution of the community’s religious life under Prussia’s pedantic rule in tandem with the Jewish Enlightenment. A portrait of Jews in war and peace, an introduction to the community’s social fiber and its venerable rabbis is followed by an analysis of a history-making religious conversion of one of this community’s members.

Extensive annotated community registers of the early 1800s may allow for genealogical research by linking the ancestries of early families to the near present. The book concludes with the chapter Lo tishkach (‘Do not forget’) identifying Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust from the town. This exceptionally detailed biographical documentation of the lives and fates of the community’s hundreds of victims and survivors of the Holocaust serves as a memoir of a once flourishing Jewish community that ceased to exist in 1940.

The book is 480 pages, hardcover and sells for $46.00. Ordering information, including the complete Table of Contents, can be found at

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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