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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 46 | November 20, 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.

Genealogy In Time Lists Top 100 Genealogy Websites still maintains its status as the most visited genealogy website according to the annual report of Genealogy In Time. Find A Grave is number two, surpassing FamilySearch which fell to third ranking. MyHeritage jumped from fifth to fourth this year. JewishGen is now ranked 38 and the Stephen P. Morse site is 50.

Genealogy In Time uses Alexa, an Internet traffic monitoring company, to rank traffic to each website. The list can be found at

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 12 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 12 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from American Samoa, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Venezuela and the U.S. states of California, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia.

The largest collection is nearly 12M indexes to New York (Ellis Island) Book Indexes to Passenger Lists 1906–1942. Each entry consists only of the person’s name, age and page number and line number on manifest. Since this is a second writing of a passenger’s name, it may be useful in finding an immigrant ancestor who cannot be found in the passenger list indexes. Read the “Citing this Record” on the result page to get the month/year of arrival. A detailed description of this collection, and how to use it, can be found at

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.

MyHeritage DNA Tests Not Available in Certain Countries
Remarkably, MyHeritage will not accept DNA testing from France, Poland, Israel, the state of Alaska, and a few French island territories. According to the company, in the regions mentioned, there are some legal challenges related to DNA, and although distribution of DNA is not explicitly prohibited in some of these cases, or in other cases limited only to specific age groups, MyHeritage prefers to avoid any potential issues.

The statement can be found at myheritage-dna-your-questions-answered.

Ukraine SIG Partners with U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Several months ago, the Ukraine Special Interest Group of JewishGen was approached by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to assist them in the transcription of the names of Crimean Jews murdered during the Holocaust—to create a searchable database. The SIG accepted the task and now the collection can be viewed at source_view.php?SourceId=43589.

The list contains the names of more than 5,500 Holocaust victims extracted from The Book of Sorrows, by Gitel Gubenko. The data includes 29 lists by town names. Most lists include the document number, name, age, address, and (if applicable) occupation and date of birth.

FindMyPast Adds 5 Million More Records to 1939 Register of UK
FindMyPast has announced they have added an additional 5 million records to their 1939 UK register collection. There are now 32.8 million records in this collection. As Britain faced the certainty of war in 1939, householders were given a card to fill out answering questions that would give the government a breakdown of the population and assess their needs. Due to World War II, there is a 30-year gap between available censuses so this registration is an important collection.

Additional information can be found in a back issue of Nu? What’s New? at The collection can be searched at FindMyPast is a fee-for-service site.

IIJG Launches Annual Appeal for Donations
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy has begun its annual appeal for donations. In the past ten years the institution has had a major effect on Jewish genealogy by expanding the horizons of Jewish genealogy through research; creating tools and technologies for Jewish family historians; and developing BA and MA courses in the subject. It has promoted Jewish genealogy as a branch of Jewish Studies and has had a tangible impact on work being done at the popular level. Visit the IIJG website at to read about these advances, as well as about ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Optionally, Americans can mail a check to Avotaynu Foundation, 794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU to Go to Printer This Week  
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this week. It contains 15 articles plus the usual columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask Dr. Beider About Names, Book Reviews and From Our Mail Box. There is an expression in the military that “rank has its privileges,” and this issue demonstrates it. The first four articles are written by AVOTAYNU editor Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus; publisher Gary Mokotoff; and Avotaynu Online Managing Editor, Adam Brown, contributes the next two.

Dr. Sack-Pikus’ lead article is an editorial appealing that it is time to start looking at extracting what she calls “second-tier” records. These are lesser-known archival records that are “genealogically useful records that lie beyond the low-lying fruit of census and vital statistics records.” My contribution is a series of personal case studies of using DNA testing for genealogy that produce results that do not seem to make sense. This article is immediately followed by one by Adam Brown titled “Frequently Asked Questions About DNA Testing” that answers some of these strange results. Finally, Brown gives a progress report on the Avotaynu DNA project.

If you are of Polish, Austro-Hungarian or Hungarian ancestry, the Fall issue provides in-depth articles for these areas. Stanley Diamond, Executive Director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland gave an excellent lecture at the Seattle conference about JRI-Poland past, present and future. We have extracted the future portion of the talk and published it as a seven-page article. Edward David Luft, a regular contributor of AVOTAYNU, dissects the GenTeam Austrian site, which now has more than 15 million records. Luft describes all the pathways at the site for Jewish genealogy in his seven-page article. Finally, Vivian Kahn contributes a four-page article about the JewishGen Hungary database.

Other articles describe:
   • Digital Resources Available Through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
   • Yad Vashem’s Upgraded Names Database
   • A wrap-up of the 2016 annual conference held in Seattle
   • Applying the Genealogical Proof Standard to Confirm One’s Ancestral Origins
and others.

The Table of Contents for the issue is at You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU 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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