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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 15 | April 15, 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.

New Group to Fight Planned Bans on Access to New York City Birth and Death Records
Despite more than 5,000 comments in opposition and only two in favor, the New York City Department of Health went forth with their original proposed rule to ban public access to birth records for 125 years and ban access to death records for 75 years. Existing records that were previously transferred to Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) are not affected. The two in favor of the plan were the New York State Department of Health and the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Services.

The genealogical/historical community has not given up the fight. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYGBS) has taken the leadership role in organizing various genealogical groups into a new group to oppose the embargo periods. It is called the New York Records Access and Preservation Committee (NYRPAC). Members of the new group include the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), Italian Genealogy Group, Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island, New York Genealogical Society and Biographical Society, Reclaim the Records and the Records Preservation and Access Committee. The NYRPAC website is at

NYRPAC wants members of the genealogical community to participate in its efforts by providing specific stories on how changes to the accessibility of New York’s records will impact them. I have already submitted my story about how I helped a child survivor of the Holocaust find family. An important part of the trail of events to find the family was acquiring the New York City death certificate of an uncle who died in 1964. This led me to the cemetery where he was buried and eventually locating a daughter of the man.

If you would be impacted by this new rule, submit your story at Deadline is April 22. A new hearing is being held on April 23.

This article is based on a report by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee. Her complete report can be found at Scroll down the page until you find the report.

MyHeritage Adoptees Assistance Program Goes Worldwide
Last month, MyHeritage launched DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. The initiative was launched initially for U.S. adoptees only. The company has now announced they are now taking applications worldwide. More than 10,000 applications were submitted so far to receive free DNA kits, from the quota of 15,000 DNA kits pledged by MyHeritage, worth more than one million dollars.

Deadline for submissions is April 30. Additional information, including how to apply can be found

GenealogyIndexer Adds Hundreds More Directories
GenealogyIndexer has added hundreds of new address and business directories from Germany, Latvia/Estonia and Poland. The complete list can be found at

Yad Vashem Adds Feature to Shoah Victims’ Names Database
Since it inception, the Shoah Victims’ Names Database has had the ability to search Pages of Testimony by submitter name. It is one of the Advanced Search features. Now the system has made it more convenient to search by submitter name. Each Page of Testimony display includes the submitter’s name with a link directly to the display of all Pages of Testimony created by the person.

The database can be searched at

Early Bird Registration for Annual Conference Ends on April 28
Early bird discount registration for the 38th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy ends April 28. The conference will be held at the Warsaw (Poland) Hilton from August 5–10. It is co-hosted by the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw, in cooperation with the Polish State Archives.

Additional information about the conference, including the registration process can be found at

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 5 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 5 million indexed records and images, can be found at 040918. This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records.

Nearly half the records are a new index collection: France, Brittany, Church and Civil Records (1521-1896). They remaining records are from Peru, Ecuador(†), Sweden(†), Germany(†), Chile, The Netherlands, 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;
Has Ancestry Switched Its Focus to DNA Testing?
Ancestry has updated the following record group at their site: Montana, County Marriage Records (1865–1993). 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.

Observation. Additions to the Ancestry collections worldwide have been minimal for many months. Perhaps the company has switched its emphasis from record acquisition to its new gold mine: DNA testing. Advertising on U.S. television by Ancestry is primarily about DNA testing and less about their family history services.

New Book! On Oldness: How to Successfullyl Navigate Old Age
Sallyann Amdur Sack, Avotaynu co-owner and a clinical psychologist, has written a wonderfully useful book, On Oldness: How to Successfully Navigate Old Age, based mnon first-hand experiences in growing older. Now an octogenarian, she offers a simple guide to effectively managing the challenges specific to old age. She argues that with attention and planning—plus a significant dose of health and good luck—old age can be a delightful, rewarding and pleasurable final stage of life. She challenges the assumption that the progress of life is one long, slow stage to oblivion. 

Cost is only $19.00 plus shipping. Additional information, including a complete Table of Contents can be found at books/On-Oldness.html.

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