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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 29 | August 6, 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.

JewishGen Plans to Issue Grants
JewishGen and its parent, the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, plan to initiate grant opportunities to support the inception and/or completion of Jewish genealogy projects that expand records available to family historians. They will be offering ignition grants up to $5,000 and signature grants of up to $25,000 for exceptional applications.

The purpose of this initiative is to assist Jewish genealogical and historical societies, and other community based organizations, to undertake and complete research projects which are delayed or cannot be initiated due to lack of funding. All Jewish genealogical and historical societies, as well as any community based organizations, such as a synagogues, schools and libraries are encouraged to apply.

The application process opens on August 15. Additional information is at

Finding You Roots New Season Begins October 3
A new season of Finding Your Roots will begin on October 3 on the Public Broadcasting System network. Host is Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who was the banquet speaker at the recently completed IAJGS 37th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

There appears to be no complete list of celebrities who will appear in the upcoming season. Likely included are Aziz Ansari, Ted Danson, Larry David, Ava DuVernay, Bryant Gumbel, Gaby Hoffmann, Scarlett Johansson, Garrison Keillor, Tea Leoni, William H. Macy, Ana Navarro, Amy Schumer, Carly Simon, Mary Steenburgen and Christopher Walken.

Additional information is at pbs-announces-fall-2017-schedule.html.

Awards Recognized Service to Jewish Genealogy
IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award. In recognition of many years of service to genealogy, both Jewish and beyond, IAJGS presented their 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Jan Meisels Allen. Jan is the founding president of the JGS of Conejo Valley, presently its programming chair, and she has been the program chair of the JGS of Los Angeles. She has served as board member and vice president of the IAJGS and chairs its Public Records Access Monitoring Committee. Jan writes almost daily posts for the IAJGS Leadership List that keep the genealogical community well informed of current items of interest.

IAJGS Volunteer of the Year. This year’s IAJGS Volunteer of the Year Award honors Rose Avigael Feldman’s dedication, encouragement, creativity, and achievements in the world of Jewish genealogy. Rose was an active volunteer in the organization of two past IAJGS conferences. As a result of contributing her time and energy to a records scanning project, documents from Israeli archives will be accessible to researchers worldwide.

IAJGS Outstanding Project. This year’s IAJGS Outstanding Project Award is given to Reclaim the Records. Under the leadership of Brooke Schreier Ganz this group has advocated for governmental agencies to release public data into the public domain. Using Freedom of Information laws (FOIL) and Open Data initiatives, in just a brief time, the organization has secured the release of thousands of vital records indices and voters lists, with continued efforts ongoing for records throughout the U.S.

JewishGen Volunteer of the Year Award. Janette Silverman, coordinator of the JewishGen Ukraine SIG, is the recipient of this year’s award. Over the years, Janette has devoted an enormous amount of time to JewishGen's important work. In addition to serving as the coordinator for the JewishGen Ukraine SIG, she serves as a moderator for the JewishGen Discussion Groups, has previously served on our operations committee, and is someone who consistently tries to help in any way that she can. The results of her hard work are readily apparent to users, and her organizational skills are admired by her many co-volunteers.

Family Tree Magazine Announces its Free 101 Best Websites for 2017
The 101 best websites for 2017 as judged by Family Tree Magazine includes only sites that do not charge a subscription or pay-per-view fee. Included are JewishGen and GenealogyIndexer. Absent are JRI-Poland and other independent Jewish Special Interest Groups. To access the list, go to

Cincinnati Funeral Home Records Online
Hamilton County Genealogical Society (HCGS) has placed online index cards of the Weil Funeral Home of Cincinnati–some 28,000 records. The range of years is 1913–2015. According to the society’s Jewish Interest Group leader, Rick Cauthen, this funeral home has been nearly the sole resource for Jewish funerals for Greater Cincinnati as well as Hamilton, Butler, and Warren counties for more than 100 years.

A typical index card includes name; address; dates of birth, death, burial; places of death and burial; and name of informant.

Access to the collection requires membership in HCGS, which costs $15 per year. Additional information can be found at

FindMyPast Adds California and Nevada Marriage Records
FindMyPast has added to its collection more than 4.3 million new marriage records covering California and Nevada. The company claims that the new additions have never before been released online and mark the latest phase of their effort to create the single largest online collection of U.S. marriage records in history. Covering 360 years of marriages from 1650–2010, when complete the collection will contain at least 100M records and more than 450M names from 2,800 counties across America.

Additional information is at

FamilySearch Adds 6 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 6 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, The Netherlands, Paraguay and the U.S. states of California, Idaho, South Dakota and Utah.

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.

New at
Ancestry has added the following record groups at their site. Note that they do not indicate how many entries have been added. Announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.

Updated Collections (No New Collections)
Idaho, Marriage Records, 1863–1966
Michigan, Death Records, 1897–1929
U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s–current
South Carolina, Death Records, 1821–1965

Latvia Map Identifies Holocaust Memorial Sites
Jewish Heritage Europe reports there is now an online database and interactive map that locates Holocaust memorial sites in Latvia. The database, Holocaust Memorial Places in Latvia, contains a map of the Jewish killing sites and structured information for each site: a brief history, location, characteristics and a reference to the related names of Jews. It also includes a list of links to other sources of information, including databases on Jewish history in Latvia.

The map can be found at It is part of a website created by the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia.

ITS Receives Grant to Preserve its Child Search Branch Files
The International Tracing Service (ITS) has been granted 100,000 euros from the 2017 Special Program of the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) for the preservation of written cultural heritage. The service will use the funds for the deacidification and restoration of Child Search Branch files dating from the period 1947–1950.

In the years following World War II, the Child Search Branch worked under the administration of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) to determine the whereabouts of children reported missing after their persecution by the Nazis. It also attended to the needs of surviving children and teens. The digitized Child Search Branch holdings of files of children identified by name are among the original documents in the ITS archives, which has been awarded the status of “World Documentary Heritage” by the UNESCO. The fates of 100,000 children is documented in more than 56,000 files, in part with photos.

Additional information is at

Planning to Go to RootsTech? Book Your Hotel Room Now!
Four hotels are now taking reservations for RootsTech 2018, which will take place from February 28–March 3, 2018, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are Hilton Salt Lake City Center, Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, Salt Lake Plaza Hotel and Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown. Additional information about hotel arrangements can be found at

RootsTech is the largest genealogical conference in the world, attracting tens of thousands of people each year.

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By virtue of its focus on the in-depth reporting of specific subjects, Avotaynu Online will be entirely distinct from the existing print journal, AVOTAYNU, which for over three decades has covered the broad spectrum of Jewish family history research, and from the weekly Nu? What’s New?, which reports breaking stories in the world of genealogy.

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