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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 13 | March 26, 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.

IAJGS 2017 Conference Program Now Online
The program schedule of the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is now online at program_schedule.cfm. It contains information on 310 events presented by more than 150 experts in just about every field relevant to Jewish genealogy. The full schedule of lectures, panels, breakfasts, computer workshops, films, evening keynote lectures, and numerous mentoring opportunities will run from 9am on Sunday, July 23 through noon on Friday, July 28.

Register now! Early registration, which ends on April 16, includes a discount. Book your hotel room now! Last year’s conference ran out of available hotel rooms. Register and book your room from the conference home page at Note there are tabs identified as “Registration” and “Hotel Reservations” toward the top of the page.

The published schedule is an interactive listing that allows scrolling from beginning to end for a full view of the conference programs, or it is possible to search by title, keyword, speaker’s name and session date.

There are optional offerings that may require additional fees. These include catered Special Interest Group luncheons, computer workshops and the Thursday evening banquet.

Soon there will be a conference app for smartphones that will permit browsing the program and the ability to create a personal daily schedule, get in touch with other conference-goers and receive updates about new developments and schedule changes.

The schedule is preliminary, and changes and additions are very likely during the next few months–even up to the day of the event–so be sure to sign up for the conference blog, Facebook page and Twitter accounts at the bottom of the home page.

I have attended 33 of the past 36 conferences and have seen them grow into remarkable events. The ability to learn, network with other genealogists, meet the experts and enjoy the hotel’s fine surroundings make for a rewarding experience.

New Book: Unbroken Chain – Third Edition – Volume 1
Author Neil Rosenstein has devoted the past 27 years to updating and improving his landmark work The Unbroken Chain and now is in the process of publishing its Third Edition, a multi-volume work. Volume 1 has just been published and future volumes will be in print over the next 12 months. The new edition is a major improvement to the previous edition both in number of persons and quality of the work.

Second Edition (1990)                 Third Edition (2017)
Two volumes, 1,350 pages             Five volumes, 3,500 pages
20,000 names                                   42,000 names
Surname-only index                          Full name index
No illustrations                                   300 illustrations (Vol 1 alone)
1,600 footnotes                                 1,000 footnotes (Vol. 1 alone)
Up to 16 generations                        Up to 22 generations

The Unbroken Chain documents the descendants of Rabbi Meir Katzenellenbogen (MaHaRaM) of Padua (1482–1565) and Rabbi Judah Lowe (MaHaRaL) of Prague through 22 generations. Among the descendants of these two Torah giants are numerous famous persons including Martin Buber, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, Karl Marx, Moses and Felix Mendelssohn, Yehudi Menuhin, Moses Montefiore, Helena Rubinstein and Judge Judy Sheindlin. A high proportion of genealogies are those of the leading Hassidic dynasties: Levi Isaac of Berdichev, Halberstam, Horowitz, Rabinowitz, Rokeach, Shapiro, Spira, Teitelbaum, Twersky and others.

Specifications for Volume 1: 8½" x 11" 862 pp. hardcover $89.00+shipping

Ordering information is at The site includes a complete list of names in volume 1 as well as a Table of Contents.

Special offer on the Second Edition. For a limited time—as long as supplies last—the 1990 edition of The Unbroken Chain can be bought for immediate reference and as a collector’s piece at a significant reduction (more than 50% discount) for “twice Chai” - $36.00 plus $6.00 shipping in U.S. (request quote for shipping outside U.S.). Click here to order Second Edition.

Warsaw Jewish Historical Institute Digitizing Their Collection
The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw is in the process of digitizing and abstracting individual items in their collection. There are already more than 62,000 documents online with a search engine. Called the Central Jewish Library, it includes the Ringelblum Archive which is registered by UNESCO as a part of the Memory of the World Program. Also included are numerous Holocaust-era “Death Cards” and documents that include photographs of individuals. The institute claims they have the largest collection of documents regarding Polish Jews in the 20th century in Poland.

The extraction, which is used by the search engine, is not merely names that appear on the documents, but street addresses and places of birth. For example, searching for the surname “Mokotowski” produced no results for persons with that surname, but did include people who lived on Mokotowska Street in Warsaw. Searching for the city of “Krakow” included results for people born in Krakow.

The site is located at It can be viewed in Polish or English.

Yiddish Digital Library Online
Since 2009, the Yiddish Book Center has made more than 12,000 titles available online in its Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library. The comprehensive collection includes works of fiction, memoirs, poetry, plays, short stories, science manuals, cookbooks, primers, and more by the most renowned Yiddish authors and lesser-known writers alike.

There is a search engine which allows you to locate and download books. The book title can be searched in Yiddish or Yiddish transliterated into the Roman alphabet. When I searched for the Mokotow family ancestral town of Warka, there were no results. Searching for the Yiddish transliteration of the town name–Vurke—demonstrated they had online the Warka yizkor book. The portal to the collection is at

Have You Renewed Your Subscription to AVOTAYNU?
Discount Deadline is March 30 for U.S. Subscribers
Just a friendly reminder to AVOTAYNU subscribers whose subscription expired with the Winter issue to be sure to renew now to take advantage of the renewal discount. Your subscription expired if there was a yellow renewal sheet with your copy of the Winter issue. Non-U.S. subscribers may not yet have received their copy of the Winter issue. Their deadline is April 30. The renewal offer is at

Renew now and be part of a drawing that has valuable prizes. We will be awarding a copy of any book published by Avotaynu to three winners of a drawing to be held on May 15, 2017. Consider owning a copy of Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy or Alexander Beider's landmark A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition.

If you are not a AVOTAYNU subscriber, you can sign up for the 2017 issues at

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 6.5 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 6.5 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Canada (Ontario), Ecuador, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Peru, Sweden and the U.S. states of Alaska, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.

Most notable for persons with Jewish family history are 2.5M indexes to Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records; 3.4M indexes to FindAGrave; 19K index records to Alaska, Vital Records, 1816–1959;and 61.5K indexes to Pennsylvania, Eastern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1795–1931.

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.

FindMyPast Adds Manitoba (Canada) Probate Records and Victoria (Australia) Cemetery Records
FindMyPast has added the following this past week to its collection.

Manitoba, Canada. A collection of 802,000 images of Manitoba probate records which include original estate files and application books that span the years from 1871 to 1930. Eight judicial districts are represented: Central, Dauphin, Eastern, Manitoba, Northern, Southern, St Boniface, and Western. The collection is located at manitoba-probate-records-1871-1930-browse.

Victoria, Australia. A collection of cemetery records from the state of Victoria. The 250,000 records in this collection come from the following cemeteries: Boroondara, Coburg, Footscray, Lilydale and St Kilda. The records span the years from 1856 to 2005. The collection is located at

New Collections from Ancestry
Collections added this week at include:
   • Idaho, Obituary Collection, 1868–2013
   • Update to Indiana, Marion Public Library Marriage Index, 1831–2008

FamilySearch Webinars for April
FamilySearch has announced its webinars for April. British, Portuguese, Finnish, Scottish, French, Chinese, Dutch, and US records-related classes are on the schedule. Many are classified for people who are beginners on the subject covered. There are 25 webinars planned. Among the topics are:
   • Overview of
   • Tips and Tricks for Using FamilySearch’s Historical Records
   • Genetic Genealogy: An Introduction to DNA
   • New York City Passenger Arrivals

The list can be found at and-webinars-for-april-2017.

Reminder: “Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE” April 6–8
One of the largest genealogy conferences in the world, “Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE,” will occur on April 6–8 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, England. The event does not feature lectures but instead visitors will have the opportunity to discuss their research with up to 133 exhibitors.

There are two workshops. The DNA Workshop is run by Family Tree DNA, and is organized by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy. TheGenealogist will present a series of lectures on several topics at their booth throughout the show.

Additional information, including how to get tickets, is at who-do-you-think-you-are-live.

UK Archives Webinars in April
The UK National Archives will hold a series of webinars the first week in April. All are from 13:00–14:00 GMT.
   • April 3 – Census Records
   • April 4 - Using Discovery, Our Online Catalogue
   • April 5 – Criminal Ancestors
   • April 6 – Emigration Records
   • April 7 – First World War Army Ancestors

Additional information is at

British Newspaper Archive Now Includes Every County in England
British Newspaper Archive at has reached a new milestone in its plan to digitize up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library’s collection of historic British and Irish newspapers. Following the addition of a newspaper from the country’s smallest county, Rutland, the Archive now covers every corner of England as, for the first time, at least one title from each of the country’s 48 counties is now available to search. They have added 3,968 pages from the Rutland Echo and Leicestershire Advertiser.

The British Newspaper Archive now contains more than 18.7 million pages from 747 titles from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and spans nearly 300 (1709–2003) years of local, national and world history.

Additional information is at

Learn Yiddish in One of the (pre-Holocaust) Jewish Capitals of the World
The Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius (Lithuania) University has announced a summer program of Yiddish language and literature that will be held from July 17 to August 11. They are offering four levels of intensive language instruction: beginner, intermediate, higher intermediate and advanced. The cultural programs (afternoons, evenings, Sundays) offer a broad array of activities designed to acquaint participants with modern Yiddish civilization. The application deadline is May 1. For more information and an application form, visit scholarship-aid/.

Plan for New York to Have a “Right to Be Forgotten” Law Is Dead
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that plans to have a “Right to Be Forgotten” law in New York State is dead. The senator who proposed the bill removed the enacting clause from his bill which, Allen states, effectively kills the bill.

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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