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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 16 | April 22, 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.

DNA Testing Discounts Abound in Honor of National DNA Day
April 25 is National DNA Day and, needless to say, all major DNA testing services are offering substantial discounts on their products.
   • MyHeritage. Through April 25, MyHeritage is offering their test for $69. Order a kit at
   • Ancestry. Through April 29, Ancestry is offering their test for $59. Order a kit at
   • FamilyTreeDNA. Through April 28, FamilyTreeDNA is offering their Family Finder test for $49. Order a kit at The company offers other tests which are being discounted that are not offered by the other companies. These include Y-DNA tests (proving/disproving paternal line relatives); mtDNA test (proving/disproving maternal line relatives); and others. There are also “bundles” discount for ordering more than one test at a time.
   • 23andme. Through April 25, 23andme is offering their Ancestry Service test for $69. Order a kit at The company also offers a Health + Ancestry service discounted to $139.

Which to choose? Probably all of them. Each will provide you with matches with other persons who used their test. I have been particularly successful with Ancestry matches. It has helped me recontact distant cousins I have not contacted in more than 20 years.

Another perspective on all these sales can be found at

You Had Your DNA Tested, Now What?
Join the GEDmatch program. This program attempts to solve the problem that persons with DNA matches may not have used the same service as you used, yet they are a close match to your results. You upload your DNA results and they are matched against other persons’ results who are part of the GEDmatch program. The basic service is free.

GEDmatch accepts results from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage DNA, Living DNA, or tested for health purposes at WeGene, GenetiConcept or Genes for Good.

Read the article at for a step-by-step description of how to use the system.

DNA Testing for Genealogical Purposes Is Banned in France
DNA testing for genealogical purposes is banned in France, reports Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee. The justification is that it could be a violation of bioethics. Testing has been illegal in France since “the law of bioethics” was passed in 1994. The history of France being under the Nazi regime in World War II and the Nazi horrors are the supposed rationale for the ban, thinking that genetic testing can be close to the creation of a mass of data about citizens’ racial backgrounds that could evolve to the same issues.

As the test is usually via kit in the post, a foreign DNA company may “circumvent” the law, and many French citizens have used this “loop hole.” The law of bioethics was enacted before the advent of genetic genealogy that uses DNA to find family members previously unknown.

A petition to the members of the French Parliament was launched in 2017 asking Parliament to review and change the restriction. The petition asks the following:
   • Permit genealogical DNA testing to find relatives and predict genetically-inherited diseases.
   • Reliable information on future clients with clear explanations of the results must be included in any new law.
   • Law must impose on future French operators transparency as to the use of each other’s genetic data and allow customers to easily manage their genetic information.

Read more about the issue at

Webinar on Warsaw Conference
The Israel Genealogy Research Association has made available a lecture on “Polish Research and Preview of Warsaw Conference” given by Matan Shefi, co-chair of the upcoming annual IAJGS conference in Warsaw. Shefi lectured about records and archives available in Poland, including records at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. He also gave a preview of the upcoming IAJGS annual conference in Warsaw this summer.

Shefi works at the Family Heritage and Jewish Genealogy Center in the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland. The lecture, which is in English, can be found at

Reminder to AVOTAYNU Resubscribers: Renewal Deadline April 30
If you are a subscriber to AVOTAYNU and received a yellow slip with the Winter issue, it means your subscription expired with that issue. Subscribers outside the United States can still get the discounted resubscription offer until April 30. The offer to U.S. subscribers expired March 30.

In both cases, persons who renew will be entered in a drawing that awards to the winner a copy of any book published by Avotaynu. There will be three winners of the drawing to be held on May 7. Winners will be announced in the issue of Nu? What's New? that appears after the drawing, and also will be notified by postal mail. Consider the advantage of owning a copy of Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy ($85 value) or Alexander Beider's landmark A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition ($118 value). Renew for two years and you will receive two opportunities to win; renew for three years and receive three opportunities to win. Renew at If you do not subscribe to AVOTAYNU, you can do so at

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 6 Million Index Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 6 million indexed records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. More than 3.4 million records are an index to Oklahoma, School Records (1895–1936). Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. Other records are from Costa Rica, Italy, Lesotho, Ireland, Georgia, Germany(†), Lesotho(†), Peru, Poland(†), Quebec, and Texas.

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 Collections 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 Collection:
Poland, Modliborzyce Ghetto Register Books, 1939–1944 (USHMM)

Updated Collection:
New Zealand, World War I Service Records, 1914–1920

Ancestry Announces New Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Ancestry has announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Margo Georgiadis as its new Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors. Georgiadis will join the company on May 10. Most recently she served as Chief Executive Officer of the toy manufacturer, Mattel. As her first act as Ancestry CEO, she plans to offer a free Barbie doll with every DNA kit [not really].

The announcement can be found at

Library and Archives Canada Introducing Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing has arrived at Library and Archives Canada (LAC). You can now transcribe, add keywords and image tags, translate content from an image or document and add descriptions to digitized images using an online system called Co-Lab.

LAC will also launch “challenges”. These challenges are content put together under a theme. For example, one of their first challenges is to transcribe the diary and describe the photographs the Arctic travels of Rosemary Gilliat (Eaton). Another challenge is to transcribe the love letters from Sir Wilfred Laurier to his sweetheart and future wife, Zoé.

If you want to participate in the project, additional information can be found at

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 on 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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