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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 44 | November 19, 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.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Avotaynu Joins Black Friday Madness–
40–74% Discount on Selected Books
Avotaynu has decided to join the Black Friday season madness by offering certain of our books at deep discounts. The sale will be available from Sunday, November 19, to Monday November 27. For lack of a better term, we are calling it a Black Friday sale.

In the early days of our publishing history, before the advent of Print-on-Demand technology, Avotaynu had to guess how many books had to be printed for the anticipated life of the book. It was better to estimated high than low, because if we ran out of stock, it was very expensive to have a second printing. The consequence is that we are overstocked on selected books and we would like to get them out of the warehouse and into the hands of people who can find these books valuable. All the books are reference works; therefore, they are as valid today as when they were first printed.

Order now. We are in short supply of some books, and when a book goes out of print, it will not be reprinted.  

Go to and purchase books from that page only. Important note: If you order from any other page, you will pay full price. The page includes a link to more detailed information about a specific book.

Books on Black Friday sale:
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. Written by more than 60 authors, each an expert in his/her own field. It has more than 100 chapters on virtually every aspect of Jewish family history research. A must for any serious genealogist. $85.00 Now only $49.00, a 43% discount.

Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names. This magnum opus describes origin and evolution of 15,000 given names. The 100-page introduction was Dr. Alexander Beider’s doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne. $85.00 Now only $49.00, a 43% discount.

Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Identifies 35,000 surnames from Galicia. The introductory section describes how Jews from the region acquired hereditary surnames and dispels many myths including derogatory surnames. $85.00 Now only $49.00, a 43% discount.

A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition.  Comprehensive collection of Jewish surnames from Czarist Russia—74,000 in total. Its 200-page introductory discusses the origin and evolution of Jewish surnames in Eastern Europe. Two vols. $118.00 Now only $59.00, a 50% discount.

Jewish Personal Names. Roots of more than 1,200 Jewish given names showing Yiddish/Hebrew variants with English transliteration. $15.00 Now only $9.00, a 40% discount.

A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames. More than 13,000 surnames from pre-World War I Germany. $89.00 Now only $49.00, a 45% discount.

Russian-Jewish Given Names: Their Origins and Variants. Comprehensive collection of Jewish given names from czarist Russia. $35.00 Now only 19.00, a 46% discount.

Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition. Award-winning gazetteer of Central
and Eastern Europe. Mostly replaced by JewishGen’s Communities Database, but still has value in providing Jewish population before the Holocaust and cites as many as 50 books that reference the town. Also advantages of a book vs. computer screen. $85.00 Now only $35.00, a 59% discount.

A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries. A comprehensive guide to Jewish cemeteries and Jewish burial customs. How to read tombstones. Also identifies famous cemeteries and burial sites of famous Jews. $39.00 Now only $22.00, a 44% discount.

Every Family Has a Story. Human interest stories published in AVOTAYNU in the past 20 years—72 in all—about how genealogy affected people's lives. $37.00 Now only $22.00, a 40% discount.

Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Jewry: 1909–1914. Births, bar mitzvahs, marriages, deaths and other records of Canadian Jewry. $35.00 $15.00, a $58% discount.

Library Resources for German-Jewish Genealogy. Concise directory of library sources in Germany and the Internet. $20.00 Now only $9.00, a 55% discount.

Jewish Vital Records, Revision Lists in the Lithuanian Archives. Inventory of Jewish records in the Lithuanian State Archives. $35.00 Now only 9.00, a 74% discount.

Eliyahu's Branches. More than 20,000 descendants of the Vilna Gaon with analysis of the early descendants of this great scholar. $69.50 Now only $35.00, a 49% discount.

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this week. The lead article is by Dr. Alexander Beider about “Pseudo-Sephardic Surnames from Italy.” Dr. Beider has spent the past 25 years dispelling many myths about Jewish surnames. This topic can be added to the list. The second article is a rigorous eight-page discussion of “How to Get the Most Out of Post-1892 U.S. Passenger Manifests.” Werner Frank may have invented two new family history terms: push genealogy and pull genealogy. In his article “Push and Pull Genealogy: A Methodology for Finding Deeper Roots” he explains these two methodologies.

All told, there are 11 articles in the issue plus the usual columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Book Review and From Our Mailbox.

The complete Table of Contents is at You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

FamilySearch to Require Logging In
Beginning December 13, 2017, patrons visiting will have to register for a free FamilySearch account or sign in to their existing account. FamilySearch has stated, “In order to accommodate continued growth of these and future free services, FamilySearch must assure all its partners that its content is offered in a safe and secure online environment. Patrons creating a free account and signing in fulfills that need.”

The organization added that signing in will also enable FamilySearch to satisfy the ongoing need for user authentication. This authentication can deliver rich, personalized discovery, collaboration, and helpful experiences. Simply put, signed-in visitors can access more searchable content and enjoy more personalized services.

There are still many things that can be done without signing in. This includes searching the catalog, digitized books, genealogies, the Wiki, and the learning center. You can also view user-contributed photos and stories. The complete announcement can be found at familysearch-signin-benefits/.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 28 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 28 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. They include records from BillionGraves, Canada, Croatia†, Czech Republic†, Denmark, Ecuador†, England†, France, Germany†, Honduras, Italy, Namibia†, Netherlands, Peru, Poland†, Slovakia, South Africa†, Sweden†, as well as more from the states of Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington.

Numerous collections summarized above may be of benefit to those searching their Jewish family history, and the complete list should be consulted.

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 Adds New York City Marriage License Index and New York Newspapers
MyHeritage has added New York City Marriage License Index (1908–1929) and New York State Newspapers (1806–2007) to their online collection. The latter collection includes more than 1.9 million pages of 56 newspapers published in different cities and towns in New York State. The former includes more than 1.5 million marriage license records. Note the dates on the marriage licenses can be several days before the actual wedding took place.

These databases will be included in SuperSearch™ which means family trees online with MyHeritage will be matched against your tree looking for matches. SuperSearch now has more than 8.3 billion records.

FindMyPast Adds More British WWI Records

FindMyPast has added 212,000 World War I British army medical records to its site. These are records for soldiers who were wounded and treated during the war. The collection can be found at

Also added are some 14,000 records related to exemptions from military service sought by residents of Portsmouth, Hampshire (England) in World War I. The collection can be found at

Internet Site Valuable for One-Name Research?
Are you doing one-name research, that is, researching all persons with a given surname? There is a website that identifies persons they have found with a given surname. The site acquires the names by using from public databases or websites. Most seem to come from Facebook possibly because most people do not have their name on the internet other than on Facebook. In addition to naming individuals, a list of possible misspellings of the name is provided.

Even if their source is only Facebook, I found their presentation as a list easier to use than browsing through Facebook. This site uncovered a man named Mokotoff whose portrait on Facebook demonstrates he is clearly from India. I also found there are a substantial number on non-Jewish Poles whose surname is Mokotowski.

The site is located at

Family Tree DNA Lowers Prices on Various Products
Family Tree DNA has lowered prices on various products. There is no indication how long these offers will last.
   • Family Finder $59, usually $89
   • Y-DNA $129, usually $169
   • mt-DNA $169, usually $199
   • Big Y $475 (includes Y-DNA test for 111 markers)

Family Tree DNA is located at

New York City Hearing on Public Access to Birth and Marriage Records Now on Internet
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, indicates that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has placed all the written and oral comments submitted for their recent hearing on transferring the birth and death records to New York City Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) after 125 years from date of birth and 75 years from date of death. Allen notes that the more than 1,300 pages of written comments alone is a testament to the genealogical community's outpouring about the impact their proposed rule has on the genealogical community—not only in New York City but across the United States and worldwide. The comments include those submitted by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society's (NYGBS) petition which was on their landing page, with the petition and model letters.

To access the comments, go to By accessing the above referenced website and clicking on Public Meetings Archive, you can watch the video of the hearing which runs 2 hours 17 minutes. The date of the hearing was October 24, 2017.

Statistics Canada Wants Feedback on 2021 Census
Before each census, Statistics Canada initiates an extensive consultation program that allows data users and interested parties across Canada to share their views on how they use census data and the type of information they believe should be available from the census. Statistics Canada is also seeking ideas for new or modified census content, as well as data sources that could be used to supplement or replace current content, to ensure that census information remains relevant for the people and organizations that use it.

Interested parties should fill out a questionnaire at consultation/index-eng.cfm. The deadline for completing the questionnaire is December 8.

About the American Battle Monuments Commission
Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who were killed during World Wars I and II are buried in cemeteries outside the United States. Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission has online at information about more than 218,000 of these individuals. Information provided is service number, rank, military unit, state individual entered service from, date of death and burial location. Each entry has a link to a page which has a description of the cemetery including hours of operation.

IIJG Plans International Conference on Genealogy and the Sciences–
Announces Results of Study on Scottish Jewry
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) is planning an International Conference on Genealogy and the Sciences in 2018 to be held at a major scientific institution in Israel. The conference will explore the relationships between the sciences and genealogy. Details will be published as the project evolves.
200 Years of Scottish Jewry (1817–2017). The Institute’s pioneering demographic and genealogical project, focusing on a national Jewry of Scotland in its entirety, has come to fruition. The results of the research have been translated into five outputs, aimed at different audiences:
   • A book by Kenneth Collins, entitled The Jewish Experience in Scotland: From Immigration to Integration (Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, Glasgow, 2016).
   • A Teacher’s Guide for educators at the high school and ongoing education levels using the Collins book as the basis for courses on Jews and Jewish life in Scotland over the last two centuries.
   • A mobile exhibition, also entitled “The Jewish Experience in Scotland: From Immigration to Integration,” designed to take the story of Scottish Jewry to wider audiences throughout Scotland and beyond.
   • A scholarly volume, entitled Two Hundred Years of Scottish Jewry (due for publication in January 2018), presenting the results of the project’s research, including statistical data, and accompanied by a series of relevant articles.
   • A computerized “Family Tree of Scottish Jewry,” available for consultation at the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre in Glasgow.

Additional information is at

Dr. Michaël Gasperoni of the Ecole française de Rome has recently concluded his study entitled “Reconstructing and Analyzing a Jewish Genealogical Network: The Case of the Roman Ghetto (17th–18th century)”. The project was funded by an IIJG research grant. Additional information is at

Instructions on how to donate to the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy are 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.
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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