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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 9 | February 28, 2017

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.

DNA Tests on Triplets/Quadruplets Produce Nonidentical Results
 In the Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU, I wrote an article titled “My Battle with DNA Testing”. One of my complaints concerned the different results in ethnicity testing between Family Tree DNA and Family Tree DNA claimed I was 84 percent Jewish Diaspora, 10 percent Middle Eastern (Asia Minor), 5 percent Western and Central Europe and 1 percent Finland and Northern Siberia. The test stated I was 92 percent European Jewish (probably their term for an Ashkenazic Jew), 4 percent Italy/Greece, 1 percent Great Britain, 1 percent Middle East, 1 percent Caucuses and 1 percent South Asia. Neither result explained my blue eyes. Jews are Semites who have brown eyes.

Now the U.S. television show, Inside Edition, did its own test to determine the veracity of the ethnicity DNA test. They took two sets of identical triplets and one set of identical quadruplets and gave them the ethnicity tests of 23andme, Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. All three gave different results and two of the three—Ancestry and Family Tree DNA—gave different results for each of the identical triplets/quadruplets.

Read the results at

Registration Now Open for the 37th Annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, July 23–28, 2017
Registration is now open for the 37th Annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, July 23–28, 2017, at the Swan Resort on the grounds of Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Save money with early registration and guarantee a room by visiting the conference website now at

The schedule includes more than 200 presentations covering just about all areas of Jewish genealogy by the best-known lecturers in their fields. A major emphasis of these presentations will be to teach the strategies that the attendees—both advanced and beginner—will need to take their family history research to the next level. Space has been set aside for the presenters to coach attendees outside the lecture hall, and a resource room will include free access to numerous fee-based genealogy databases.

More than 50 affinity groups including Special Interest Groups, Birds of a Feather, and Facebook groups are planning lecture series, workshops, breakfasts, lunches and meetings.

Beginners especially are invited to this conference where they will be initiated into all the joys of getting started in Jewish genealogy with a track of their own.

DNA testing is the cutting edge of Jewish genealogical research, but it remains a puzzling mystery to many. This conference will include a weeklong series of talks on every relevant aspect of this valuable research tool.

Given that this is the first IAJGS conference ever held in the southern United States, special attention will be given to the history of the Jews of the South and the Caribbean basin. Experts on Florida, Martinique, Curacao, Cuba, Panama, Mexico and other places that were destinations for Jews and conversos fleeing the inquisition will make presentations at the conference, and a special track will be devoted to helping individuals with converso family history explore whether classic genealogical resources and tools can help link them from the present day back to Spain’s Golden Age.

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, host of the popular PBS television show Finding Your Roots will address the Thursday evening annual awards banquet with a talk on "Genealogy and Genetics in America.” On Sunday evening, Professor Robert Watson will talk about our Nevis-born U.S. founding father entitled “Alexander Hamilton, the Jews, and the American Revolution.” On Tuesday evening, Professor Hasia Diner will commemorate the centennial of America’s entry into WWI in her talk entitled “1917: A Turning Point in American Jewish History”.

All week long, the acclaimed IAJGS Film Festival will return with a full schedule of offerings on Jewish cultural and historical topics.

The conference is co-sponsored by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Orlando.

For further information about the conference, visit the conference website at and contact the conference organizers at

Which Service Is Best: Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch or MyHeritage?
There was a very interesting lecture at the recent RootsTech conference held annually in Salt Lake City. The title of the lecture was “Big 4: Comparing Ancestry, FindMyPast, FamilySearch and MyHeritage.”

Topics covered include cost, record types, geographic coverage, genetic testing, DNA matching, search flexibility, languages supported, mobile-friendly, automated matching, and others. Needless to say, no one service came out on top, but the one-hour lecture provided an excellent comparison between the four providers.

The lecture can be accessed at

Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU
AVOTAYNU is now accepting articles for its Spring issue. They may be about any topic that is useful to Jewish genealogists. Send to Deadline is March 15. As an example of articles that appeared in recent issues, see the Tables of Contents for the four issues of 2016: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

Recent Additions to Collection
The following collections have been updated by this week:
   • U.S. Passport Applications, 1795–1925
   • South Carolina, Death Records, 1821–1965
   • U.S., Obituary Collection, 1930–2016

Note that these collections may not be complete for the dates specified and additional records may be added at some later date.

Lithuanian Jewish Museum Planned
Jewish Heritage Europe reports that a Jewish museum is planned for the Lithuanian town of Seduva. It will be part of the “Lost Shtetl” memorial complex which was created in the town in 2015. The complex includes memorials at three sites of Holocaust mass executions and burials and a symbolic sculpture in the middle of the town. The Seduva museum is designed by the same architects who did the POLIN museum in Warsaw. The museum, which will open in 2019, is privately funded.

Additional information can be found at

L’viv Vital Records Transcription Project Completed
The power of volunteerism was recently demonstrated with the completion of the L’viv Jewish vital records transcription project. Over a period of 9 years, a total of 40 volunteers from 7 different countries transcribed 149,957 records. The information covers births, 1805
1872; deaths, 18051880; and marriages, 18011866. Portions are already on the All Galicia Database (AGD) at The final update will be added to the AGD in about six months. Images of the original records can be found on the various FamilySearch microfilms cited as sources for each record found in the AGD.

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
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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