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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 42 | October 28, 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.

MyHeritage Oslo Conference to Be Live Streamed
I do not like to publish announcements from for-profit corporations whose sole purpose is to promote their company’s existing products, but I personally feel that MyHeritage is the company most clearly at the cutting edge of providing functionality and services to its subscribers. From November 2–4, MyHeritage will be holding a conference in Oslo, Norway, whose purpose is to tout their own products. Interested persons who do not plan to go to Oslo can attend the lectures that will be live streamed all over the world.

There will be a genealogy track, a DNA track and hands-on workshops. Obviously only the first two tracks will be live streamed. Learn how to use the tremendous functionality of MyHeritage.

Lectures start at 9:00 a.m. Oslo time on November 3. Calculate the time difference to your local time zone at The full schedule is at

New Jersey Jewish News Digitized and Online
The Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey has launched a project to digitize and place online editions of the New Jersey Jewish News. More than 200,000 pages of the newspaper which spans 70 years will be accessible.

For 70 years the New Jersey Jewish News was the newspaper of record for New Jersey’s Jewish community. The paper chronicled the social, religious, personal and business developments of the community. In addition to these local issues, its pages included national and world events affecting the community; Jewish culture and the arts; and Jewish holidays, celebrations, and other topics of interest.

The search engine can be found at At present it contains 1,190 items comprising 38,479 images.

Second Call–Wanted: Human Interest Stories for Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU should go to the printer by the end of this week. We are now looking ahead to the Winter issue which is special in two ways. For the past 31 years, AVOTAYNU has devoted a portion of each Winter issue to genealogy human interest stories. Stories are typically about how genealogy affected people’s lives, whether it be the researcher or the people they are researching.

If you would like to share such a story with AVOTAYNU subscribers, submit it by e-mail to When possible, illustrations should accompany the article. Deadline for submission this year is December 1, 2018.

I have made numerous contributions to previous Winter issues shown below. It may give you an idea for a story worth sharing.
   • The story of my father’s first cousin, Max, who was married six times; four times consecutively, twice concurrently.
   • How I helped a child survivor of the Holocaust find family.
   • Why a Polish Catholic man changed his name to Mokotowski, not knowing it was a uniquely Jewish surname.
   • The real story behind the legend of Sean Ferguson.
   • The story of a German-Jewish boy who was sent by his parents to England for safe keeping during World War II.
   • How preponderance of evidence can lead to wrong conclusions.
   • “Is There Such a Thing As Luck” (in genealogical research).

A sample story that originally appeared in the Winter 1998 issue of AVOTAYNU can be read at

New Family Histories In Print. Also in the Winter issue, AVOTAYNU lists Jewish genealogical family histories that have been published in the preceding 12 months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported. Please present information about the book in a specific format: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Submit the information by e-mail to The deadline date is also December 1.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Practicing Safe Computing #37: Facebook Tokens
Hal Bookbinder has produced his 37th article in his series Practicing Safe Computing. It is titled Facebook Tokens. In September, Facebook reported a breach in which hackers obtained the tokens for 30 million Facebook users and with these tokens were able to obtain personal information and recent activity for these users. The article describes what tokens are, how they are used and what you can do to reduce the possibility of token misuse.

The article, as well as the previous 36 articles can be found at

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 3.6 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 3.6 million indexed records, 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 Chile, Colombia(†), France, French Polynesia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain(†), and the States of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, and Ohio.

Major additions to indexes are:
   • France, Vienne, Census, 1896, 365,772 index records
   • Germany, Hesse-Nassau, Civil Registers and Church Books, 1701–1875, 299,779 index records
   • Kansas State Census, 1915, 1,609,914 index records
   • United States Western States Marriage Index, 913,552
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.

Swiss Federal Archives to Provide Online Access to Its Archival Records
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the Swiss Federal Archives is implementing a digitization project to provide online access to its archival records. The project is in two phases: the web portal and infrastructure to digitize analogue dossiers when they are ordered. By the end of 2018 they expect the completion of the development work on the web portal with pilot projects due in early 2019 and online access available to all by the Autumn of 2019. The infrastructure will be finalized in 2021.

Additional information is at

Planned U.S. Television Program: Family History
ABC television will produce a pilot episode of a new drama titled Family History. The hour-long fictional family drama is inspired by the recent explosion in genetic genealogy testing. It follows a young tech reporter in the San Francisco Bay area whose life changes when she discovers a family secret via a DNA-testing website. The show explores nature versus nurture and how technology has caught up to our secrets. The news article notes, “We may be the last generation to have secrets.”

The date of the airing of the pilot has not been announced. Additional information can be found at

How to Do Italian Genealogical Research
The FamilySearch blog includes an article about the basics of doing Italian genealogical research. Topics covered are:
   • Italian Civil Records
   • Italian Catholic Church Records
   • Other Useful Resources for Italian Records Research

The article is at

Shanghai Address and Business Directory of Jewish Refugees Is Online
Genealogy Indexer has added to its collection the Shanghai Address and Business Directory of Jewish Refugees. Shanghai was an important stepping stone in the escape of many Jews from Nazi Germany and other places in Europe. The directory can be viewed at

It has been indexed and is part of the Genealogical Indexer main search engine at At the site you can search:
   • 1,832,000 pages of 3,157 historical directories
   • 148,000 pages of 326 yizkor books
   • 32,000 pages of military lists
   • 45,000 pages of community and personal histories
   • 24,000 pages of school sources

Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy: 2018 Edition
More a getting started guide than a beginner’s guide, it is meant to convince the reader that tracing one’s Jewish ancestry can be done. The resources described are primarily Internet resources. The Internet has revolutionized family history research. What used to take days or weeks now takes minutes or hours because of the wealth of resources on the Internet. It describes in detail such resources as JewishGen, Morse One-Step site, FamilySearch,, MyHeritage and many more sites. It alerts the readers to what types of documents of their ancestors will aid in their research—such records as birth, marriage, death, Immigration, census and naturalization records.

Cost is only $16.50 plus shippng. Addtional informaton, including the Table of Contents, can be found at

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