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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 9 | March 4, 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.

German Project to Provide Biographies of Pre-war German Jews
A non-profit German organization, Tracing the Past e.V., is about to release biographies of about 406,000 people in their “Mapping the Lives” project. Most of them are German Jews whose information was taken from the German minority census of 1939.

Information in the database will be crowd sourced, that is, people outside the group will be able to add or correct information in the biographies. Because the information may be about living persons, the organization will honor requests that their information be deleted or parts of it redacted.

Persons will not only be able to be searched for by name but also by residential street address taken from the 1939 German Minority Census.

Their mission statement describes the purpose of the organization:
“As the collective memory of the Holocaust increases in terms of archival material and an ever-burgeoning mass of popular media, the firsthand memories are decreasing with the passing of time: fewer and fewer people remain alive who witnessed the atrocities of the Third Reich and its collaborators. Most younger people today have a grasp of the history basics in these matters, but relatively few seem to have any kind of known personal connection to these events. They often have little idea of their family’s possible personal involvement, nor do they have much of an idea who the people were who once lived in these neighborhoods, these streets, sometimes in their very home — nor are they aware of the fates of their neighbors once-removed.”

The website is at

Alexander Beider Writing Monthly Column on Jewish Names for Forward
Alexander Beider, possibly the world’s most knowledgeable person on Jewish names, is writing a monthly column for the Forward newspaper. His latest piece is titled “Why Do So Many Jewish Last Names Come from Women?” It can be found at Dr Beider already has planned seven additional articles for the Forward.

Previous columns written by him are (click on title to link to article):
   • Did Jews Buy Their Last Names?
   • Many ‘Sephardic’ Jews Aren’t Actually Sephardic
   • That Time Hebrew Disappeared For 300 Years
   • Ashkenazi Jews Are Not Khazars: Here’s the Proof
   • The Khazarian Hypothesis Is Not the Only Junk Science Origin Story Of Jews

“Are You Researching Genealogy's Biggest Clues Machine?”
The Ancestor Hunt has produced an essay about what it considers the most underused source of information about your family’s history: newspapers. Newspapers, it notes, have information about births, marriages and deaths. They also might include life events about an ancestor. Personally, I was able to track the events of the black sheep of my family—a first cousin of my father—as he was cited in newspapers going from one embezzlement situation to another. The Ancestor Hunt essay can be found at

The Ancestor Hunt also is the internet site that includes hundreds of links to newspapers. They can be found at Also at the website is a 13-part education program on how to do historical newspaper research. It can be found at

MyHeritage Makes Numerous Announcements
The publicity department of MyHeritage must have worked overtime this week to produce an unusual number of news release about MyHeritage activity.

MyHeritage Adds 325 Million Records to Its Collection. This brings the total number of global records available at MyHeritage to 8.8 billion. Added are 1939 Register of England & Wales, U.S. Yearbooks Name Index (1890–1979) and Canadian Obituaries.

The full announcement can be found at

FamilySearch Tree Sync. For the past 2½ years, MyHeritage and FamilySearch have been developing together a unique feature—FamilySearch Tree Sync—that allows members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to import a portion of their tree from FamilySearch into MyHeritage, and then keep their MyHeritage and FamilySearch trees synchronized. This feature is now released in a limited beta, and volunteers who are LDS members are invited to try it out.

This has potential importance because most major genealogy websites include the ability to post family trees. If they all got together and created a synchronization mechanism, it would be unnecessary to go to every site to look at the family trees posted at each site. Since MyHeritage acquired Geni they have provided matches between family trees on MyHeritage and trees at the Geni site. My personal experience is that it has been very helpful in filling missing information for people on my tree and allowed me to contact these Geni users. On the down side, since I previously submitted my tree data to both Geni and MyHeritage, I get matching results against myself.

Additional information about the project can be found at

DNA Quest: A program to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through DNA testing. As part of DNA Quest, MyHeritage is giving out 15,000 DNA kits—worth more than one million dollars—for free, with free shipping, to eligible participants.

Participation is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, or anyone looking for a family member who was placed for adoption. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing, and to those who apply first.

MyHeritage has set up an advisory board of experts in the fields of genetic genealogy and adoption to guide and support this initiative on a voluntary basis. The advisory board includes:
    • CeCe Moore, founder of The DNA Detectives
  • Blaine Bettinger, The Genetic Genealogist;
   • Richard Weiss of DNA Adoption
   • Richard Hill, DNA Testing Adviser
   • Katharine Tanya, founder of
   • Brianne Kirkpatrick, founder of Watershed DNA
   • Leah Larkin, The DNA Geek
   • Susan Friel-Williams, Vice President, American Adoption Congress

MyHeritage states it hopes to make this project a shining light for corporate philanthropy and an example to be followed by other commercial companies in their own lines of expertise, to help make our world a better place.

The full announcement can be found at

Announce Keynote Speakers for Conference (Not Really)
April Fools Day is still a month from now, but Dan Oren of the IAJGS conference planning committee leaked the keynote speakers in a tongue-in-cheek posting to Facebook. Noting that many people are anxious to see the program schedule, he posted the following:

Keynote Lecture 1: “Figuring Out Family Relationships in Chełm: The Town Where Every Jewish Man Was Named Gimpel Puppik and Every Jewish Woman Was Named Yenta Yenta Yenta,” lecture by Gimpel Puppik, President of JRU-Poland (Jokes-R-Us-Poland) and commentary by Yenta Yenta Yenta, IAJGS communications chair, 11:30 pm, Sunday August 5, 2018, Room 1313, Hilton Hotel & Conference Center, Warsaw.

Keynote Lecture 2: “Using to Disown Unpleasant Relatives,” lecture by A. Random Showstopper, the Ryan Reynolds Professor Emeritus of Film at FarKlimt University, 4:00 am, Monday, August 6, 2018, Room 1313, Kraków JCC, Kraków.

Keynote Lecture 3: “Polish-Abyssinian Relations Today and Why This Topic Is of No Interest to Anyone Attending the IAJGS Conference”, lecture by my fifth cousin four times removed, Shaul Chaim Mikhel Dovid Smith, the Oyveyzmeer Rebbe, and Chief Rabbit of Abyssinia, 6:13 pm, Tuesday, August 7, 2018, Room 1313, aka the Stanley Jewel Room, Polish Embassy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Keynote Lecture 4: “Understanding the Difference Between 0.02% and 0.03% DNA Overlaps and What That Means for Determining Family Relationships Using the 120andMe Genetic Database,” lecture by Isabel Picolomene, Chief Scientist of the Cloning Division of the Ishmael Defence Forces. 23:00 pm, Wednesday, August 8, 2018, Room 1313, the Presidential Suite, 6 Złoty Budget Hotel, Łodz, Poland.

Keynote Lecture 5: “How to Make a Hotel Reservation,” lecture by Bubbameises Sogood, co-chair without a co-chair of the Warsaw IAJGS Conference, Thursday, August 9, 2018, room and time to be determined.

Additional information about the conference can be found at

Attend the 38th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Registration and additional information at

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