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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 3 | January 21, 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.

Sophie Caplan OAM z"l
Sophie Caplan died this past week after being in declining health for several years. She was founding president of the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society, creator of their newsletter Kosher Koala, past president of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, part of the Founding COmmittee of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and AVOTAYNU's Contributing Editor for Australia for nearly 30 years. In 2000, the Australian government awarded her the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her contribution to Australian history and genealogy.

A child Holocaust survivor, her parents fled with her from Germany to France just before the outbreak of World War II after failing to receive their Australian landing permit. Sophie migrated with her family to Sydney after the war.

She married the late Leslie Caplan, who served as a leader of Sydney and Australian Jewry. He was a two-time president of the Executive Council for Australian Jewry, a life governor of Sydney's Jewish Communal Appeal (JCA), former president of North Shore Synagogue, a founder and president of Masada College and president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. He, too, was awarded an Order of Australia in 1984 for services to the community.

Most important of all, Sophie was a delightful person to know. May her memory be a blessing.

Detailed Guide to Family Tree Software: Top Six Choices
 Family History Daily has produced an article, “Looking for a New Family Tree Program? A Detailed Guide to the Top 6 Choices” which provides a comparison of family tree software from Ancestry, FamilySearch, Family Tree Maker, MyHeritage, RootsMagic and Wikitree. Included is a chart showing the features and cost for each system.

The article can be found at and-how-to/best-family-tree-software.

MyHeritage DNA Sale…Again
MyHeritage has extended its Black Friday/Chanukah/Christmas DNA test discount into the new year. Until tomorrow, Monday, January 22, their DNA test is available for $59 instead of $99. The offer is at

In addition to receiving results showing your ethnicity, the results will be compared with the DNA data of others who have contributed to the program. You then will be informed of shared genetic sequences that indicate a possible family relationship.

Articles about DNA. MyHeritage is producing a series of articles about DNA and family history. Chapter 1, an introductory chapter, appeared last November. It can be found at They have just published Chapter 2, “The Structure of DNA.” It is located at dna-basics-chapter-2-the-structure-of-dna/.

USCIS Webinar on 1940 Alien Registration Forms
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will hold a webinar on “1940 Alien Registration Forms” on January 23 at 1:00pm Eastern. The webinar will not be recorded for future viewing.

Anticipating involvement in World War II, the U.S. government in 1940 required all aliens aged 14 or older to register. Many immigrants who came before 1940 and never bothered to become citizens registered but also rushed to become citizens.

The webinar will cover a variety of subjects including:
   • Examining various registration forms, including information collected and how these records can help break through research roadblocks;
   • Indexing of the forms and ways to identify an early alien registration number (A-Number);
   • Where to find alien registration forms today, and how to request them.

Register at and click on the January 23 webinar.

New Jewish Genealogical Society: Mercer County (New Jersey) JGS
Ken Bravo, president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), has announced a new member: Mercer County Jewish Genealogy Society. The group meets at the Beth El synagogue in East Windsor, New Jersey. Additional information about the new group can be found at their website:

Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Kansas City Forming. A new society is forming in the Kansas City area. They will hold their first meeting January 22 at 6:30pm in the Johnson County Central Resource Library (Logan Room); 9875 W. 87th Street; Overland Park, Kansas. For additional information, write to Ronald Doctor at

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies is the umbrella group of more than 70 societies in 14 countries throughout the world. It provides a common voice for issues of significance to its members, to advocate for and educate about their genealogical avocation, and to coordinate items such as the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy which will be held in Warsaw, Poland, this year and Cleveland, Ohio, in 2019. Information about the organization can be found at

UK Prisoner of War Collection Now Available to the Public
In December 2014, the UK Ministry of Defence transferred to the National Archives a collection of about 190,000 records of individuals captured in German-occupied territory during the World War II. The records are primarily for Allied service men (including Canadians, South Africans, Australians and New Zealanders), but also include several hundred British and Allied civilians and a few nurses. The series also includes several thousand records relating to deceased Allied airmen, whose bodies were found by or near to their aircrafts which had been shot down.

The collection may contain information about living individuals; therefore, the Archives is allowing public access to the individual him/herself, or for persons born more than 100 years ago or where the requester shows proof of death.

Additional information is at opening-prisoner-war-collection.

Scotland Releases Another Year of Birth, Marriage and Death Records
 Who Do You Think You Are? magazine reports that ScotlandsPeople, the official records website for the Scottish government, has released to the public records for 106,469 births from 1917; 47,514 marriages from 1942; and 59,729 deaths from 1967. This is an annual ritual based on Scotland’s privacy laws. The website is located at

GRO Pilot Project for Ordering Records in PDF Format a Success. The magazine also reports that the UK’s General Register Office (GRO) pilot program where people can order birth and death records as PDF files rather than a paper version has been a success. This project was previously reported in the October 22, 2017, issue of Nu? What’s New?. More than 79,600 PDF applications were processed since last October. The project has been extended past the pilot period. The project applies to births 1837–1916 and deaths 1837–1957. It excludes marriage records.

The magazine article can be found at

February Education Classes by JewishGen
JewishGen will be offering two classes during February:
   • Basic 2: Search Strategies - Using Google for Genealogy, January 29 - February 11. Tuition is $18; no charge for persons who donated at least $100 to the JewishGen General Fund in past 12 months.
   • Independent Study Program, February 9 - March 1. Work one-on-one with a mentor on one of your research problems. The mentor will analyze your data and help you set goals and objectives for solutions and success. Tuition is $200.
Additional information as well as registration is at

Joint Distribution Committee Case Study Featured on PBS Series “We’ll Meet Again”
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is presenting a new series, “We’ll Meet Again,” starting January 23. The six-part series focuses on reunions of people who experienced major historical events together such as the Vietnam War and 9-11. Part of the initial episode airing on January 23 includes the story of a survivor of the Shanghai ghetto being reunited with a childhood family friend with the help of the Joint Distribution Committee.

A meeting between JDC’s Global Archives Director, Linda Levi, and the survivor, Peter Engler, was filmed at the JDC offices. The episode includes historical documents, photos and a video. A preview of this meeting can be found at well-meet-again/peters-search-records-orguaz/.

Check local PBS listings for time and date.

January 27 Is International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Several years ago, the United Nations passed a resolution declaring January 27 an International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust: Jews, Roma, mentally and physically disabled people, and homosexual men. That day is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. Every year, the UN urges its member states to develop educational programs to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again.

The UN states that the Holocaust was a turning point in history, which prompted the world to say “never again.” The significance of resolution, it states, is that it calls for a remembrance of past crimes with an eye towards preventing them in the future. Additional information can be found at

Make sure the members of your family who were murdered in the Holocaust are not  forgotten. Submit a Page of Testimony in thier memory to The Shoah Victims' Name Recovefr Project. Go to Click the words "Submit Pages of Testimony Online" or “Download Page of Testimony Forms.”

Pages of Testimony are special forms created by Yad Vashem to restore the personal identities and to record the brief life stories of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices. These one-page forms, containing the names, biographical details and, when available, photographs, of each individual victim are essentially symbolic "tombstones". Since its inception Yad Vashem has worked tirelessly to fulfill our moral imperative to remember every single victim as a human being, and not merely a number.  To date there are some two million seven hundred thousand names recorded on Pages of Testimony, written in more than twenty languages, stored for perpetuity in the circular repository around the outer edge of the Hall of Names. Many shelves remain empty bearing witness to the millions of individuals who have yet to be memorialized.

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