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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 17 | April 29, 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.

Use of DNA Tests for Solving Crimes Has Backlash
It has made national headlines in the U.S. that DNA samples of collateral relatives helped solve a major 44-year-old series of crimes in California. Dubbed the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo committed at least 13 murders, 50 rapes, and more than 100 burglaries in California from 1974 through 1986. He was found using GEDmatch, the system where people volunteer their DNA results in the hope they can get matches with previously unknown relatives.

Now there is a backlash, cautioning people that using these services means “they have all our DNA.” A defense attorney who specializes in DNA cases alleges that “DNA tests are not foolproof.”

Comment: Note that law enforcement people did not go to testing services such as Ancestry, MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA for assistance. Instead they used GEDMatch where individuals volunteered to publicly display their DNA results. The DNA testing services have stated often that they would resist law enforcement agencies attempts to use their clients’ information.

Additional information can be found at Also, a defense attorney’s comments at

IAJGS Conference Committee Announces Preliminary Program and Meal Reservations
The preliminary program for the Warsaw Conference is now online at In addition, registrants now can sign up for luncheons/banquet. Organizations with planned luncheons include Austria/Czech SIG, Belarus SIG, German-Jewish SIG, JRI-Poland, Litvak SIG and Ukraine SIG. There is a kosher meal option at all events.

Early Bird Registration for Warsaw Conference Extended to May 5. Conference planners have announced that the Early Bird registration, which provides discounts, has been extended to May 5.

Who Do You Think You Are New Season Starts May 21
The U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are starts its 2018 season on May 21. Guest celebrity for the first show is Megan Mullally. The program is aired Mondays on TBS starting at 9pm ET. Other celebrities on the program for the 2018 season include Laverne Cox, Jon Cryer, Hillary Duff, Mollie Shanon and Jean Smart. Additional information, including biographies of the celebrities, is at

Recent Additions to the AJDC Names Index
The American Joint Distribution Committee has added to its Names Index departures from Europe covering the years 1947–1953. These lists are basically memoranda from JDC’s Emigration Service, which had offices throughout Europe.

After World War II, JDC’s Emigration Service assisted tens of thousands of Jews to emigrate to North and South America, Palestine/Israel, and Australia, or to resettle elsewhere within Europe. These new lists detail information on those who departed Europe, including the originating JDC office, name, destination, and ship name where relevant.

Additional information can be found at The Names Index can be searched at Results often include access to the original document.

JDC Dedicates New Archives Center in Jerusalem
Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) board members and staff gathered in Jerusalem on February 13 to attend the dedication of the Marshall M. Weinberg JDC Archives Center. The new Archives facilities hold a large collection including the records of JDC’s Jerusalem office, the records of MALBEN (a Hebrew acronym for Organization for the Care of Handicapped Immigrants), and the records of JDC overseas offices in Geneva, Istanbul, Stockholm, Cyprus, Rome, Vienna, Paris, and other locations.

The long-awaited opening was the result of many years of planning. The archival collections were previously stored in several warehouses lacking the required conditions for proper preservation and storage. In 2010, the JDC Archives began a lengthy search for a proper climate-controlled environment to house its holdings.

Additional information can be found at center-in-jerusalem/.

MyHeritage Blog: DNA Basics Chapter 5: HOW DNA Testing Works
In its continuing program to help the public understand DNA testing, MyHeritage has published its fifth essay on the topic titled, “DNA Basics Chapter 5: How DNA Testing Works.” The essay can be found at

JewishGen Providing Online Course on Using JewishGen
Want to learn how to navigate through the maze of JewishGen data collections? JewishGen is offering an online course titled, “JewishGen - The Essential Jewish Resource” from May 7–21. The course is a series of exercises that are a guided tour of the paths and byways that make up JewishGen's massive website. You will visit the links that connect the composite databases, projects, SIGs and open up the wonders of JewishGen.

Tuition is $18. This fee is waived if you qualify for JewishGen's Value Added Services, having made a $100 donation to JewishGen’s General Fund within the past 12 months. Additional information, including how to enroll is at

FamilySearch Adds 2 Billionth Image of Records
FamilySearch is in the process of digitizing their entire microfilm collection. They have recently announced that they now have reached the two billion mark for images in their collection. Digitized records are being added at the rate of more than 300 million new images a year. More than 300 mobile digitization teams with specialized cameras are filming genealogy documents on location at archives worldwide. FamilySearch also partners with libraries and societies to digitize their historical books and other relevant publications.

The complete announcement can be found at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 2.5 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 2.5 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 Brazil, Denmark, Florida, Italy, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Peru, South Africa(†), Washington and obituaries of Germans from Russia.

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 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.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669–2013
U.S. Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895–1960
New York, Sing Sing Prison Admission Registers, 1865–1939

New Jewish Genealogical Society in Albany, New York, Area
IAJGS has welcomed its 78th member, the newly formed Capital Region Jewish Genealogical Society. This comprises the area of New York State’s capitol: Albany. People interested in joining the group should contact Susan Kugler at The group already has been presenting programs since last fall and is continuing to work on the remainder of the current year's schedule.

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) was formed in 1980. It is an umbrella group that provides a common voice for issues of significance to its members, to advocate for and educate about our genealogical avocation, and to coordinate items such as the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. For more information on IAJGS, go to

A Letter from IAJGS About the Warsaw Conference
Ken Bravo, IAJGS president, and Robinn Magid, chair of the Warsaw conference,
issued the following letter to members of Jewish genealogical societies.

The IAJGS has a 38-year-long tradition of providing outstanding Jewish genealogy conferences. This year, August 5–10, 2018, we have the extraordinary opportunity to present a conference in Warsaw at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Centre. This is a landmark opportunity to visit the cities and former shtetlach of many of our ancestors and to investigate the cradle of Ashkenazic civilization which has so greatly influenced our world.

At this particular time, when world-wide anti-Semitism and populism is on the rise, it is particularly important for Jews around the world to appear in Poland - a land symbolic of our achievements and our heartache. We are already coming to Poland as 540 people from 24 different countries, but we need you!

Come join us in Warsaw and please send this message, along with a copy of a recent Avotaynu article (available here), to your JGS members by all means available to you.

There will never be a better time to visit these lands and say kaddish for our families. Kol Yisrael Areve Zeh v'Zeh - All Jews have a connection and responsibility to each other. Come be with us in Warsaw and register now by visiting: Looking forward to seeing you in Warsaw.

Ken Bravo, IAJGS President
Robinn Magid Warsaw, Conference Chair

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

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