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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 2 | January 14, 2018

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.

Yet Another Genealogical Search Engine Worth Using
I have been using the Genealogy in Time website for many years as one of the more than 50 sources to glean news items for Nu? What’s New?. Until recently, I did not notice they have a search engine which is limited to searching sites they have determined are relevant to genealogy. This is yet another search engine worth using at least once because it takes a fresh look at websites you think you have harvested before.

Sites their search engine visits include JewishGen, Genealogical Indexer and FindAGrave, to name a few. It uses a customized Google search engine, so all the power of searching using Google is available.

Spending just 15 minutes using the search engine, I uncovered a photograph in the Garwolin yizkor book that included Leibel Mokotow. The source was the yizkor book database on JewishGen. This was new to me even though:
   • I have looked at the Garwolin yizkor book a number of times but never noticed the picture. The reason is Leibel is in a group photo and when reading the caption, I inadvertently skipped over his name.
   • I once visited the Garwolin yizkor book site on JewishGen but never noticed at the bottom of the rather lengthy page a link to a webpage that includes all the photographs in the book, with captions.
   • JewishGen has a surname search engine on its home page which I use from time to time, but it apparently does not include the JewishGen pages for yizkor books.

The Genealogy in Time search engine can be found at

“Ashkenazic Jews Are Not Khazars: Here Is the Proof”
“Many Sephardic Jews Aren’t Sephardic”
Alexander Beider is finally publishing articles for the public about his views on Jewish history based on the knowledge he gained through his study of Jewish onomastics and linguists. At the IAJGS conference in Orlando, he attacked the assertion that today’s Ashkenazic Jews are not descended from Biblical Jews. In the last issue of AVOTAYNU, he wrote about “Pseudo-Sephardic Surnames from Italy.” In the forthcoming Winter issue of AVOTAYNU, he writes about “Exceptional Ashkenazic Families of Sephardic Origin.”

Dr. Beider also has written two articles for the Forward:
   • Ashkenazic Jews Are Not Khazars: Here Is the Proof
   • Many Sephardic Jews Aren’t Sephardic

It is good to see he is contributing to the public realm as well as to the scholarly realm. He has established himself as the authority on the origin and evolution of Jewish surnames and given names through four books published by Avotaynu. He recently published a book through Oxford University Press titled Origins of Yiddish Dialects which presents a new outlook into the origin of Yiddish.

Good News from Reclaim The Records: They Just Sued New York City Again
Reclaim The Records (RTR) submitted a new Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the New York City Clerk’s Office asking for the index to New York City’s marriages from 1996–2016. The Clerk’s Office rejected the request, so on January 10, RTR filed a suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, for the records. What is strange is that RTR previously won a court case against the Clerk’s Office for earlier years of the marriage index. They not only won the case but were awarded attorney fees.

To date, RTR has made more than 20 million records available. Additional information about this FOIL request can be found at

MyHeritage Announces Updates and Improvements to Their DNA Matching
MyHeritage has announced updates and improvements to their DNA Matching system. They state the new system will provide more accurate DNA Matches, more plentiful matches (about 10x more), fewer false positives, more specific and more accurate relationship estimates, and indications on lower confidence DNA Matches to help focus research efforts. They have also added a Chromosome Browser feature which was requested by a number of users.

MyHeritage indicates they have more than one million people in the DNA database.

A detailed description of how they perform DNA matching can be found in the announcement at

MyHeritage Adds New York Newspapers (1806–2007) and
New York City Marriage License Index (1908–1929)
MyHeritage has added New York Newspapers (1806–2007) to their collection. Includes more than 1.9 million pages from 56 newspapers published in New York State’s various cities and towns. It appears that no New York City newspapers are included. Search exclusively the collection at

MyHeritage has added New York Newspapers (1806–2007) and New York City Marriage License Index (1908–1929) to their collection. The images in this collection were obtained through the work and efforts of Reclaim the Records. The collection can be searched at

The full announcement can be found at

FindMyPast Adds “Hints” Feature
FindMyPast has added a feature that matches their record collection against a family tree placed at their website. It provides similar functionality to MyHeritage’s SuperSearch feature.

Hints appear as little orange bubbles next to people on the family tree. The number in the bubble represents how many potential record matches have been found. Clicking the bubble allows the user to view the hints. Alternatively, there is a “My Hints” button at the top right of the family tree page. Clicking it allows the user to see all unviewed hints. There is a mechanism to add the information from that record to the person on the tree.

I created a tree with only my name and immediately it suggested a record in the 1940 U.S. census that, indeed, was me. What was impressive is that my given name is misspelled in the census as “Garry.” This means the FindMyPast search is something more than an exact search.

Additional information can be found at

FamilySearch Adds 3 Million Plus Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 3 million plus records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those American Samoa, BillionGraves, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden(†), identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. They include records from Philippines, Portugal(†) and Venezuela(†). In addition, 200,000 records were added to the BillionGraves collection and 36M indexes to the collection Sweden, Household Examination Books (1880–1920). No U.S. collections were added or updated this week.

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.

FamilySearch Year-End Report of Their Accomplishments in 2017
Some of the accomplishments of FamilySearch in 2017 were:
   • 5.9 billion records are now online with more than 4.2 billion indexed.
   • More than 1.2 billion people are now in the FamilySearch Family Tree from more than 4 million contributors
   • RootsTech 2017 had 26,000 attendees with an additional 100,000 attending online

A more detailed description of their accomplishments can be found at

New at
Ancestry has added/updated 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.

New Collections
Montana, Birth Records, 1897–1919

Updated Collections
1860 United States Federal Census
1870 United States Federal Census
Carroll County, Missouri Marriages, 1833–1856

In addition, there were updates to a number of U.S. military record collections dating from the Civil War and before.

IIJG Announces Two Prizes for Jewish Genealogical Research
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) has announced the launching of two commemorative prizes in the field of Jewish genealogy. The first, in memory of Harvey Krueger, is an “ignition grant” of $2,500 to young researchers about to embark on, or already preparing, master’s or doctoral theses on any aspect of Jewish genealogy.

The second, in memory of Chava Agmon, is a prize of $1,500 for completed but unpublished research work in Jewish genealogy. Entries for both prizes will be judged by their originality and the extent to which they expand the horizons of Jewish genealogical research in the humanities and/or the exact sciences.

Submissions, in the form of a thesis proposal or a completed study, should be submitted by March 31, 2018. Full details about the prizes, including instructions to applicants are found 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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