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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 12 | March 25, 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.

GoFundMe Account Set Up to Purchase Scanners for Ukrainian Archives
Brooke Schreier Ganz should be given the nickname “Snowball Queen of Genealogy.” Every minor project she starts snowballs into something bigger and greater. Ganz is founder of Reclaim the Records, which had its genesis when she wanted to receive a personal copy of the New York City Marriage License Index. Reclaim the Records has snowballed this project into twelve additional ones with 70 other potential projects listed at their website:

Now Ganz is off on another venture: Donating scanners to Ukrainian archives. It all started when she linked up with a distant cousin, Alex Krakovsky, who lives in Ukraine and is an activist for open records. Krakovsky told Ganz that the archive he uses lacked a digital scanner to copy documents. So she set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the scanner. Within 24 hours of announcing the project, the account had more than $1,000.

Directors of two other Ukrainian archives branches—Kirovograd and Nikolaev— heard about the project and shouted “Me too.” The project has now escalated to provide scanners for many other Ukrainian archives. These archives must promise to abide by the two conditions: (1) the scanners have to be used constantly, and (2) all the material that gets scanned must go online at no charge to users and no copyright or usage restrictions.

The new goal is to raise $3,000. As of this weekend, more than $2,100 has been raised. The account is located at

HIAS Is No Longer “Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society”
HIAS is no longer the acronym for “Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.” The organization has changed its name to “HIAS” apparently because its focus is no longer aiding only Jewish immigrants but immigrants of other groups. This is evident when you look at their website where there are photographs of the people they help. Their mission statement now says “HIAS rescues people whose lives are in danger for being who they are.”

Additional information can be found in an article at The HIAS mission is stated at

Israeli-Polish Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony Cancelled Because of New Polish Law
A joint Israeli-Polish Holocaust remembrance ceremony that was to be held in Radomsko, Poland, was cancelled after Polish authorities tried to censor the speech of an Israeli mayor. Kiryat Bialik mayor Eli Dukorsky was set to address a delegation of students from his city who were visiting Poland. His speech included personal accounts of the Holocaust and references to Polish bystanders and collaborators, as well as Righteous Among the Nations. A Polish authority insisted the references to Polish collaborators be deleted, and Dukorsky refused. The ceremony was cancelled.

A report on the incident can be found at

Meanwhile, the Polish attorney general’s office described as partly unconstitutional the law passed last month that criminalizes blaming Poland for Nazi crimes. The office said that penalizing acts committed abroad independent of the laws in place in Poland was against the Constitution, which opposes “excessive interference.” It added that the law was “dysfunctional,” could have “opposite results than those intended” and could “undermine the Polish state’s authority.”

That comment can be found at

Getting Started Shipments Backlogged
The response to the new book Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy: 2018 Edition was so overwhelming that orders are backlogged. Hopefully, we will have more copies by the end of the week. Part of the reason for the overwhelming response is that it was the first time a new Avotaynu book was announced on Facebook.

New additions to the 2018 version include a section on Facebook groups for Jewish genealogy and an expansion of the section on DNA testing. Also, statistical data about sizes of the numerous databases mentioned have been updated.

The book is only 104 pages, making it quick reading, yet it holds a wealth of information. An appendix includes a case study to demonstrate that tracing your Jewish ancestry can be done. The appendix documents how the book’s author traced the ancestry of the notorious Bernie Madoff back six generations using only internet resources. It included the challenge that the name was changed to Madoff “at Ellis Island.” Additional information, including the Table of Contents, is available at The price is $16.50 plus shipping.

Have You Renewed Your Subscription to AVOTAYNU?
Renewal Discount for U.S. Subscribers Ends Saturday
Just yet another friendly reminder to AVOTAYNU subscribers whose subscription expired with the Winter issue to be sure to renew now to take advantage of the renewal discount offer. Your subscription expired if there was a yellow renewal sheet with your copy of the Winter issue. Non-U.S. subscribers are just starting to receive the Winter issue. Their deadline is April 30. The renewal offer is at

In addition to the renewal discount offer, you will be part of a drawing to be held in early May where three persons will win any of the books Avotaynu has published. How would you like a copy of Dr. Alexander Beider’s landmark work, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, or Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. Resubscribe for three years and you will have three chances to win. If you are not an AVOTAYNU subscriber, sign up for a special discounted offer of the Winter issue and all four issues in 2018 at

My Heritage Produces Glossary of Terms Associated with DNA Testing
As Chapter 4 of MyHeritage’s series on DNA Basics, the firm has produced a glossary of terms associated with DNA testing. Learn the meaning of allele, centimorgans, codon, genomic location, nucleotides and tens of other words. The Chapter is at MyHeritage has also created a 1½ minute film showing their laboratory in operation. It is at

Webinar. MyHeritage and Legacy Family Tree Webinars recently broadcast a webinar about DNA and genetic genealogy. It can be found at

Genealogical Indexer Adds More Than 300 Directories
Genealogical Indexer has added more than 300 directories to its online collection. They come from Austria, Germany and Poland, with the majority from Germany. The complete list can be found at

Search the new directories as well as thousands of other directories; yizkor books; military, history and school records at

USCIS Webinar on “Married at Ellis Island: Single Women and Immigration 1892–1924”
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will hold a webinar on March 27 at 1:00pm Eastern Time on “Married at Ellis Island: Single Women and Immigration 1892–1924.” During Ellis Island’s peak years, unmarried immigrant women faced extra scrutiny when entering the United States. Women who traveled with companions to whom they were not married were deemed susceptible to “immoral” activities. Single women who travelled alone and had no relatives to meet them were often seen as “likely to become a public charge.” If the women married, however, they became admissible immigrants. As a result, hundreds of immigrants were married on Ellis Island.

This webinar uses real case files to explore Ellis Island marriages in the context of the era’s immigration policies. The webinar will not be recorded, therefore, the only opportunity to hear this is when it is broadcast live. To receive a reminder, go to Click on the March 27 webinar notification and when a box opens, click the “Attend Session” button.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 2 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 2 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 Bolivia(†), Chile, Find a Grave, Honduras, Hungary, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mexico, New York, New Zealand, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Poland(†), and Ukraine(†).

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/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.

USA New Collections
New York, Orphans Placed in the New York Foundling Hospital and Children’s Aid Society, 1855–1925

USA Updated
Georgia, Deaths Index, 1914–1940

Canada New Collections
Canada, Obituary Collection, 1898–2017

Canada Updated
1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta
Canada, Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621–1968
Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865–1935

EHRI Project Shows Example of How to Do Holocaust Research
European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) has published on its website an article about how a person researched a family that perished in the Holocaust. It is a good description of the methodology for doing Holocaust research. The first step was to understand the events surrounding the town where the family lived. The following steps show the institutions the author used to find information about the family.

The article appears at

Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
 All back issues of our journal AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

Number of articles in Anthology by topic:

Algeria 8
Argentina 21
Australia 36
Austria 17
Austro-Hungary 7**
Belarus* 26
Belgium 24
Bermuda 1
Book Reviews 289
Brazil 25
Bulgaria 5
Burma 1
Canada 94
Caribbean 9
Cuba 3

China 10

Computers 21
Conferences 52
Costa Rica 1
Croatia 3
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 33
Denmark 2
DNA 25
East Europe– Gen’l
Egypt 11
England 125
Estonia* 5
Europe-General 25
Finland 1

France 102
Galicia 20
General 233
Germany 173
Gibraltar 1
Greece 12
Holland 83
Holocaust 177
Hungary 46
India 6
Iraq 3
Iran 5
Ireland 2
Israel 125
Italy 14 
Latvia* 26

LDS 29
Libya 1
Lithuania* 71
Methodology 84
Moldova* 5
Morocco 18
New Zealand 13
North Africa 2
Poland 118
Portugal 21
Rabbinic 57
Romania 33
Russia 46** 
Scotland 27
Sephardic 42
Serbia 2

Slovakia 1
South Africa 22
South America 1
Spain 13
Sudan 1
Sweden 5
Switzerland 27
Syria 3
Tunisia 3
Turkey 22
Ukraine* 57
United States   227
USSR 92**
Venezuela 1
Zimbabwe 1

* Also see Russia and USSR ** Also see individual countries
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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