Nu? What's New?

Nu? What's New is a bi-weekly Internet magazine published by Avotaynu providing information of interest to persons tracing their Jewish family history.

To be added or removed from the Nu? What's New? mailing list,
go on the Internet to

Vol. 3, No. 24 - December 8, 2002

Hadassah Lieberman to Be Banquet Speaker at Annual Conference

Hadassah Freilich Lieberman. wife of Senator Joseph Lieberman, will be the banquet speaker at the 23rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Washington, D.C, next July. Mrs. Lieberman was thrust into the national spotlight as wife and campaign partner of Senator Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in the 2000 presidential election. She will address the conference on genealogical, not political, themes. Mrs. Lieberman, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, will provide a firsthand account of her family's experiences in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust and as immigrants starting a new life in America. Her father, who was a rabbi, survived a slave labor camp; her mother survived Dachau and Auschwitz. The family fled Eastern Europe in 1950, settling in Massachusetts where her father continued his role as a community rabbi.

Additional information about the conference can be found at

More Name-Change Internet Sites

In the last issue of "Nu? What's New", I identified a number of sites on the Internet that provided name changes for towns in Central and Eastern Europe. Since then, a number of subscribers to this e-zine provided additional sites. If you know of other sites make me aware of them. I will collect URLs and create a page at the Avotaynu Internet site that includes all the links. German-Polish and Polish-German names for town in Poland and Russia. (Courtesy of David Lewin) towns in Alsace and the Moselle region showing both the French and German names. (Courtesy of Rosanne Leeson) Rusyn-Hungarian-Slovak list--partial for Zemplen County 1869 Census. (Courtesy of Steve Stein)

Another Way of Showing Family Trees on the Internet

In previous editions of "Nu? What's New?" I have addressed the problem of placing family trees on the Internet. If these trees include information about living persons, placing the information as text on the Internet with a program such as GED2HTML means a search engine can index the site and make the information available to anyone in the world. The solution is not to place the data on the Internet as text but as a database which a program must process to display information.

In Volume 3, No. 18, I described how DoroTree, the Israeli-developed genealogical software system, has created a way to display family trees on the Internet that cannot be indexed by a search engine. Miriam Weiner has made me aware of another system, developed in the UK, which has a similar safeguard. It is called "Dynamic Family Tree Compiler" (DFT) and is located as DFT converts a GEDCOM file to a series of files which, when placed on the Internet, display a family tree in a pedigree chart format.

When your mouse pointer touches (without clicking) a person on the tree, a window opens displaying all the information about the individual such as birth, marriage and death dates and places. If there are notes or a picture of the person, a button is available which, when clicked, provides the information. It is possible to browse up and down the tree.

It will make a lot of "Nu? What's New?" readers happy to know that the software is free.

Pilot Project Evaluates Ordering Vital Records from Polish State Archives Online

For a number of years the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland project has been indexing the vital records of the Jews of Poland making the index available at their site at To date there have been more than 1.6 million records indexed.

The actual records can then be retrieved from Mormon microfilms or by ordering them directly from the Polish State Archives if they have not been microfilmed. The next logical step is now part of a pilot project: online ordering of the records.

For the regional branches of the Polish State Archives in Bialystok and Lomza, when you retrieve an index item at the JRI-P site, there is a new column at the extreme left of each entry: "Order?" Click the entry, and the request for the record is added to a request list that resembles the shopping cart design that exists at most Internet sites where you order products or services. After identifying all the records desired, you complete the order in the same manner as any online shopping cart system.

At present you must print and snail mail the order(s) to a central processing center with payment by credit card, personal check (drawn on a U.S. bank), or international money order (in U.S. dollars cleared through a bank in the US). Undoubtedly, in the foreseeable future, a totally online ordering system will be developed where you can pay by credit card, and your order will be processed electronically.

Jewish Genealogy Month to Be April 3 - May 2

Each year Avotaynu sponsors Jewish Genealogy Month, a time to put extra emphasis on promoting family history research among Jews. In 2003, Jewish Genealogy Month will be April 3 - May 2. As always, it coincides with the Hebrew month of Nisan, the month that includes the family-oriented holiday period of Passover. Avotaynu will again prepare a poster to be distributed to all Jewish genealogical societies worldwide and to be placed in Jewish institutions to promote genealogy. This year's theme will be "Where Once We Walked." It will symbolically depict the areas of the world where Jews once walked, but few Jews walk today.

Further information about the poster will appear in future issues of "Nu? What's New?" Previous posters can be viewed at

Publish Lists of Prisoners in the Siauliai Ghetto

The Vilna Gaon State Museum has published a new book which lists Jews confined to the Siauliai, Lithuania, ghetto during the Holocaust. Apart from the actual lists, which were compiled from the census of the ghetto in May 1942, there are a number of articles on Siauliai, the work camps and surrounding towns. The price of the book is $50. Send inquiries to:

Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum
Pamenkalnio 12
Publishing Department
Vilnius 2001 LITHUANIA

Every-name Index of the 1930 Census
========================== has now indexed additional states and territories in the 1930 census. The states currently indexed include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii Territory, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Panama Canal Zone, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Washington State. They can be retrieved at

WOWW Is Shipping

Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition has been received from the printer, and we are currently mailing out copies to those who presubscribed to the book. Ordering information can be found at

Vol. 3, No. 25 - December 22, 2002

Pressure Mounts to Release Canadian Census Data

Statistics Canada, the department of the Canadian government that is in possession of the Canadian census data for the 20th century has refused to release the information to the public. They claim that these censuses were taken with the understanding that the information disclosed was confidential and would never be released to the public. Just about every other Canadian organization disagrees. The more you read about this controversy, the more you realize the StatCan position is an invention and is a sad example of a bureaucracy refusing to service its public.

There is little doubt that this controversy will end shortly because there is mounting pressure for release of the data.

* Another government department, Information Canada has examined the issue and concluded there is no basis for refusing public access. This department investigates complaints from people who believe they have been denied rights under the Access to Information Act, Canada's freedom of information legislation. The director of Statistics Canada says he disagrees with the conclusion of Information Canada.

* Information Canada Commissioner John Reid feels so strongly about this matter that he has indicated he is ready to take Statistics Canada to court over their refusal to release the census information to the public.

* Public meetings have demonstrated the Canadian people want the information released.

* A bill will be introduced in the Canadian Parliament to cause release of the information.

Additional information about the Canadian controversy can be found at

Meanwhile, the British government reports that in the utilization of their recently released 1901 census on the Internet, there have been 17 million uses of the free service portion of the system, and 2.3 million paid services. It is located at

In the United States, the 1930 census was released last April and a full-name index has been created by that is more than 50% completed. The states currently indexed include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii Territory, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Panama Canal Zone, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Washington State. The index is located at

New York City Marriage Indexes Released

The New York City Department of Records and Information Services has microfilmed and made available to the public the City Clerk Marriage Indexes from 1908-1951. They can be viewed at the Municipal Archives. The LDS (Mormon) Family History Library plans to acquire a copy of the microfilm in 2003. There are both bride and groom indexes.

From 1908 to 1937 the City of New York had two sets of marriage records: Department of Health and City Clerk. In 1937 the Department of Health discontinued marrying people so the only agency responsible for marriages in New York City was the City Clerk. The Department of Health marriage records were microfilmed a number of years ago (1866 to 1937) and are available at the New York Municipal Archives and also through the Family History Library.

The indexes are arranged by borough (there are five in New York City) for each year with multiple volumes for a given year arranged by groups of months (i.e., Jan-Feb-Mar) with separate indexes for brides and grooms within the divisions for months. After the date and marriage license number is found in the indexes, the actual record must be obtained from the City Clerk office by mail or in person for a fee of $10 per record. (Description of New York City marriage data provided by Eileen Polakoff.)

The Problem That Won't Go Away -- The Sequel

Last June, I reported in
Nu? What's New? (Vol. 3, No. 10) that the problem of Mormons posthumously baptizing Jews had once again come to the forefront because of the efforts of an ex-Mormon named Helen Radkey who claimed the Church was violating its 1995 agreement with the Jewish community to no longer baptize Jews who were not direct ancestors of Mormons.

It apparently took until now for the matter to reach the news media. The principal article was written by Bill Gladstone who writes for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Gladstone, a former president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto), was the person who wrote the article in 1994 that appeared in the New York
Forward which started the wheels rolling that eventually led to the historic agreement between the Mormon Church and the Jewish community. (I call it historic because it is the only time I know of in history that a religion modified its practices based on the wishes of non-believers.)

The Mormon Church lists the names of all persons they have posthumously baptized in a public database called the International Genealogical Index (IGI) which can be searched at It contains some quarter-of-a-billion names. Each time complaints about the Mormon practice goesw public, the publicity always includes names of notables such as Albert Einstein, Menachem Begin and David Ben Gurion. Yes, Albert Einstein is in the IGI. He was posthumously baptized before the agreement was signed. Menachem (misspelled Menachiem) Begin is in the IGI. I was not able to determine when he was baptized, but he died in 1993, and it is reasonable to assume that some Mormon would submit his name for posthumous baptism shortly after his death, and therefore before the agreement.

That Rashi and other famous rabbis that lived centuries ago are in the IGI is understandable because the agreement allows Mormons to practice their religion by posthumously baptizing their direct ancestors. Certainly, some Mormon has these distinguished rabbis as ancestors. Go to the IGI and key in the name Katzenellenbogen and you will find many names.

One great misconception about the agreement is the belief that the Mormon Church is obligated to scour their records looking for Jews and remove their names from their records. The agreement only requires Jews to be removed if the Church is informed of their presence in the IGI and it has been subsequently determined the person is not a direct ancestor of a Mormon.

The only way this problem will go away is if the Mormon Church assigns a team to go through the IGI and remove the pre-1995 Jews from the IGI. If they don't, the problem will come up again and again.

Yiddish Institute in Vilnius, Lithuania

The Yiddish Institute in Vilnius, Lithuania now has a monthly newsletter and a Web site located at

The Institute is located at Vilnius University and consists of a seminar and teaching room, space for seven full-time staff members, and a working library. It provides a number of credit courses at the university in Yiddish and East European Jewish Studies plus a number of cultural programs throughout the year. From the Web site it was not obvious how to subscribe to the newsletter, but you can e-mail them at

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU

The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy, will go to the printer this week. It is our annual human interest edition, and there is a record 30 articles in 92 pages. Issues are normally 68 pages. There was just an abundance of good material to publish.

On the human interest side there are mirror articles by one researcher on how he discovered that his great-grandfather was an embezzler and bigamist and another about how his grandfather was accused of a felony but was actually framed and vindicated many years later. The Holocaust, sadly, always provides fodder for human interest stories, and this issue has a number of them. There is a detailed description of how a woman named Mania survived the Holocaust as the sole survivor of her family. There are two travelogues, one of a family's return to their ancestral land in the Czech Republic and another of a family's trip to Poland and Romania.

On the information side of the issue, there are a number of articles about HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. This social service organization has been helping Jewish immigrants relocate in the United States for 110 years, and Valery Bazarov of their Location and Family Service not only explains how his department works but also provides an example of its success. There are also articles on rabbinic genealogy, the box tax imposed on Jews, the Levanda index--a list of czarist edicts that affected Jews, and others.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Avotaynu Office Closed December 29 - January 17

If you are considering ordering books from us, do it this week. Avotaynu's office will be closed from December 30 - January 17. Orders placed during this time period will be shipped upon our return.

JPEG Images of Postcards Available at Avotaynu Site

For those who are recent subscribers to "Nu? What's New?", for about two years Avotaynu has been offering scanned images (JPEGs) of towns in Eastern Europe. Postcards of your ancestral town from the turn of the 20th century can be a wonderful addition to the photographic portion of your family history, but they are rare items and consequently very expensive. Typical prices are $20-50 each, with some costing hundreds of dollars.

Tomasz Wisniewski, a resident of Bialystok, Poland, has collected nearly 2,000 postcards and pictures of Jewish life in what was interwar Poland and today encompasses eastern Poland, western Belarus and Ukraine and portions of Lithuania. Avotaynu has convinced him to sell JPEG images of these cards, and they are now available for sale at There are some 330 towns represented in more than 1,300 pictures. Many of the pictures are of synagogues since destroyed in the Holocaust, street scenes, and panoramic views.

The cost of each JPG is only $2.50 (minimum purchase $10.00). These images are a perfect way to dress up your family website. They can also be printed in color for inclusion in a published family history or to have in your files as pictures of a time that once was. [Note: We are offering computer images of the postcards which will be sent by e-mail, not the postcards themselves.]

Wisniewski is also the author of two books about Jewish life in the Bialystok area: "Synagogues and Jewish Communities in the Bialystok Region," published in 1992; and, more recently, "Jewish Bialystok and Surroundings in Eastern Poland," which is sold by Avotaynu (

Vol. 3, No. 26 - January 26, 2003

JewishGen Acquired by Museum of Jewish Heritage

JewishGen has been acquired by the Museum of Jewish Heritage located in New York effective January 1, 2003. This will change the structure of JewishGen, the principal presence of Jewish genealogy on the Internet, from an organization run almost exclusively by volunteer help to one that will be part of a formal organization. Susan King, founder and president of JewishGen, will become employed by the Museum and hold the title Managing Director of JewishGen. In addition, two key JewishGen technicians, Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias, will become full-time employees of the Museum.

In recent years, JewishGen has been struggling under the enormous weight of a volunteer-based organization that relied on contributions for its operation. This curtailed its growth, which was quite remarkable despite these handicaps. With the burden of day-to-day matters, such as administration and fund raising, lifted from off King's shoulders, it is expected she can now focus on the growth of JewishGen and improvement of its quality. By employing two key technicians of JewishGen, who likely devoted almost as much time to volunteer work as they did to their regular livelihood, projects which have been stalled due to lack of available time will now be implemented.

In recent years, the Museum has developed a strong interest in making genealogy an integral part of their public program. Acquisition of JewishGen will accelerate their plans.

The long-term consequence to Jewish genealogy is unknown. The vision of what is good for Jewish genealogy is being transferred from the Jewish genealogist to a museum that has shown a great interest in Jewish genealogy but undoubtedly has its own perceptions of what is important. While JewishGen focused much of its energy on servicing people who are already involved in family history research, it is likely that the museum will also expend its energies in getting more Jews involved.

The museum is located on the waterfront of Lower Manhattan not far from the former site of the World Trade Center. It is in the middle of an 82,000-square-foot construction project that will contain a theater, classrooms, and special exhibition space, among other facilities. This East Wing, set to open in fall 2003, will enhance the Museum's mission of remembrance and education-–including genealogy.

A press release about the acquisition is located at

Genealogy Exhibit at Museum of Tolerance

Another museum showing an interest in genealogy is the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles. On February 11, a permanent exhibition called "Finding Our Families" will open. It will offer a multimedia journey into the family history of a number of well-known celebrities such as poet Maya Angelou, comedian/actor Billy Crystal, musician Carlos Santana, and baseball manager Joe Torre. There will be a resource room where visitors can learn how to start tracing their own family trees and discover their roots. The project was the brainchild of professional genealogist Rafi Guber who has spent the past six years making the exhibit a reality.

Canada to Release 1906 Census Records to Public

A major victory has been achieved by Canadian genealogists and historians with the announcement by the Minister of Industry that the data compiled in the 1906 Special Census of the Canadian Western Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) will be made available to the public. The documents have been transferred to the National Archives of Canada from the offices of Statistics of Canada and are already available on the Internet at (French version at The Industry Minister oversees Statistics Canada whose director refused to release the records claiming they were confidential.

The 1906 Census documented hundreds of thousands of immigrants who settled the Prairies at the start of the 1900s. It collected only limited information such as name, address, age, sex, marital status and origin.

This now opens the door for planned Parliamentary legislation to release all subsequent 20th century census data. The 1901 national census was released to the public but the issue of the 1911 census has yet to be resolved. Legislation will be brought shortly after Parliament resumes sitting at the end of January.

Additional information about the announcement can be found at The release of the 1906 census was the result of a four-year effort by Canadian genealogists and historians to convince government ministers and members of Parliament of the importance of public access to census data.

Consolidated Jewish Surname Index Updated
A major update has been made to Avotaynu's Consolidated Jewish Surname Index located at CJSI now contains sources of information about more than 500,000 surnames, mostly Jewish, in 34 different databases.

Additions are 24,872 surnames present in the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter (London) database, 7,897 Sephardic surnames, and 16,228 surnames present in Quebec vital records. Also the following JewishGen databases were reevaluated to include surnames added since CJSI was last updated in March 2001.
    Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
    All Lithuania Database
    All Belarus Database
    All Latvia Database
    JewishGen Family Finder
    Family Tree of the Jewish People

CJSI is a database of databases. It is an index to 34 different sources of information about (mostly) Jewish surnames. By indicating which databases contain surnames of interest, it becomes unnecessary to search the indexes to each source separately to see if there is information relevant to your research. Links are provided to other Web sites that either have the databases or information about how to access the data. Most of the sources not online are published in books or on microfiche.

CJSI has some special features to enhance it usefulness. The index is presented in Daitch-Mokotoff soundex order rather than alphabetically. This means that many spelling variants of a surname appear on consecutive lines. CJSI is browseable similar to a telephone book. It does not merely provide a list of surnames that match the soundex code. Searching for a given surname places the user at a certain point in the database. It is then possible to search up and down the database beyond the limits of the soundex code. This allows the user to review surnames that are small variations of the one being searched. Finally, an advanced search feature allows mixing exact matching and soundexing of the letters of the surname lowering the incidence of false positives (the procedure is described at the Internet site).

The CJSI site also includes a link to's database of more than 1.6 billion records.

New Book: In Their Words: A Genealogist's Translation Guide--Volume II: Russian

The team of Jonathan Shea and William Hoffman has produced their second volume that assists in translating documents genealogists come across in their research. Volume II addresses Russian-language documents. Volume I, previously published, deals with Polish-language documents.

The book is 496 pages, softcover, 8½"x11". Avotaynu is selling it--as well as the Polish book--until January 31 for $30.00. Thereafter the cost is $35.00. Ordering information can be found at

The book includes:
    * over 88 Russian-language documents and extracts from American and European sources, analyzed and translated -- they include extracts from birth, death, and marriage records of various formats; gazetteer entries; revision lists; obituaries; population registers; military service records; passports; etc.
    * sections on Russian grammar, phonetics, and spelling
    * information on how to locate records in America and Europe
    * a chapter on gazetteers and how to use them, with 10 maps showing Russia's changing borders and divisions, and letter-writing guides for Russian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian
    * a 77-page vocabulary with over 4,000 entries, featuring archaic terms and spellings most likely to be found in records but rarely included in modern dictionaries
    * a 26-page list of over 700 Christian and Jewish given names with equivalents in English, Latin, Lithuanian, and Polish

Future volumes planned by Shea and Hoffman will involve German and Latin documents.

Jewish Genealogy Month -- April 3 to May 2

The poster for this year's Jewish Genealogy Month is completed. Once again, Caroline Guillot of the French Jewish genealogical society, Gen Ami, is the artist. This year's theme is "Where Once We Walked." It symbolically depicts the areas of the world where Jews once walked, but few Jews walk today. The poster can be viewed at

Copies of the poster will be sent to each Jewish genealogical society throughout the world to be placed in Jewish institutions to promote genealogy. Individuals can purchase copies of the poster at the Web site.

Beider Given Name List To Be Used As a Standard

The Cataloging Committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries meeting at the AJL annual convention last June adopted a standard for Romanizing 147 Yiddish given names of Hebraic or Aramaic origin. It agreed to use the names listed in
A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation and Migrations by Alexander Beider published by Avotaynu in 2001, except where they conflict with those used by Uriel Weinreich's Modern English-Yiddish Yiddish-English Dictionary, which will prevail. The draft Yiddish forename list is available at URL

Information about the Beider book can be found at Completes Index to 1930 Census
================================ has announced it now has indexed the 1930 U.S. census for all states. It can be linked to from their Home Page

Misspelled Town Names in the Ellis Island Database

The incredible number of misspellings of town names in the Ellis Island database was brought home by Joseph Fibel of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York who recently tried to identify all immigrants from the town of Eisiskes, Lithuania (Eishishok, in Yiddish). Fibel found more the 100 spelling variants of the town name in just 245 records. The list included Aisechok, Aiszeszuk, Ajsaschok, Ajscheschok, Ajszyszki, Ajszyszok, Asesky, Asiski, Aueshishky, Auseschok, Echissok, Eischechok, Eischeshok, Eischichok, Eischischek, Eischischik, Eischischk, Eischischke, Eischischki, Eischischky, Eischischok, Eischisek, Eischiski, Eischiskky, Eischisschky, Eischiszki, Eischiszky, Eiseschock, Eisesok, Eishisekki, Eishishky, Eishisky, Eishizky, Eisischak, Eisischki, Eisischock, Eisischok, Eisisik, Eisisk, Eisiski, Eisisky, Eisisok, Eisiszok, Eisizck, Eisoschok, Eisyschik, Eisyzszky, Eiszesok, Eisziczok, Eiszisky, Eisziszki, Eisziszky, Eiszuszok, Eiszyozki, Eiszyski, Eiszysky, Eiszyszke, Eiszyszki, Eizesak, Eizischok, Ejciszki, Ejschischok, Ejsiazok, Ejsischok, Ejsziszki, Ejsziszky, Ejszuszki, Ejszyoski, Ejszyski, Ejszyszki, Ejszyzok, Ejzyszki, Ejzzyski, Escheschak, Escheschek, Escheschok, Eschischoch, Eschischok, Eschoschok, Eseszok/Russia, Esisack, Esischok, Esisok, Esizok, Esyczok, Eszischok, Esziszok, Eyoziozki, Eyszesski, Eysziski, Eyszyski, Eyszysky, Eyszyszky, Ezazki, Ezesjak, Ezichok, Ezizok, Ischiski, Iszisaok, Oischeschok, Ojszyszok, Uscichuk, Uscieczka, Uscieszko, Useszyki, and Uszezek.

Vol. 4, No. 1 - February 9, 2003

YIVO Photo Collection on Internet

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has placed a portion of their photograph collection, some 17,000 photos of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, on the Internet at Titled "People of a Thousand Towns", it provides a visual record of thousands of communities where Jews lived before the Holocaust. Most of the pictures are of people, and in some cases they are identified by name. There is a search engine that allows you to isolate pictures by town or by keyword. By using the keyword feature and entering the various surnames I am researching, it is likely that I identified a picture that includes a collateral relative named Hyman Tarre from Chicago, a vistor to Bialystok at the time.

It is fascinating to read the captions of the pictures, which demonstrate that as recently as the early 20th century, Jews referred to themselves colloquially by nickname rather than using the surnames they had adopted less than 100 years earlier. A typical caption was one of a studio portrait that read "the revolutionary tanners' caucus [of Bialystok] (right to left) Fayvl the Odesser, Itske the boot fuller, Hymen Tarre (now in Chicago), Mordkhe Roznoyer, Shloyme Yitskhok the Vitebsker, and Shlomo Yitskhok the fuller. ("Forward," 1932.)" Note that Hymen not only used a surname but had already abandoned his European surname of Tartacki in favor or a more Americanized "Tarre." My records indicate that he arrived in America less than one year before this picture was taken.

The pre-World War II Jewish communities are located in Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. They span the late 19th century to the early 1940s and document the lives of large Jewish centers as well as many smaller towns and villages. The online presentation covers only a small fraction of YIVO's extensive photographic holdings, one of the world's foremost collections of photographs of Jewish life around the world. Most of the pictures used in Avotaynu's "Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition" come from YIVO's collection.

You have to register in order to do a search, a minor inconvenience.

Canadian Parliament to Consider Census Bill

A bill has been introduced in the Canadian Parliament to resolve the matter of the release to the public of both prior and future censuses. It calls for the release of all 20th-century censuses after 92 years to those who have a need to know (including historians and genealogists), and full public disclosure after 112 years. I interpret the proposed bill as stating that censuses will be made available to those who need to know after 92 years at which time nearly all the persons enumerated in the census, except for the smallest of children, are deceased. After 112 year, a Canadian census will become part of the country's history. U.S. censuses are released after 72 years.

The proposal for future censuses is that the informant would have to approve public disclosure in order for their information to be released with the same 92/112 year restrictions. If an informant fails to disclose whether the data can be released, it will be assumed it is not to be made public. Such a proposal would destroy the long-term benefit of a census: to provide a snapshot of a nation's history. Requiring the individual to opt-in means that any 21st-century census will be very fragmentary and, to a historian, of little value in determining the mores of the times. Properly, the post-2006 census regulations should be identical to those of the 20th century. "Need to know" access after 92 years; part of Canadian history after 112 years.

Register Online for the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

You can now register online for the 23rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Washington, DC, July 20-25, 2003. The conference web site is It would be wise also to make hotel reservations early. As many as 1,500 people may attend the conference and hotel rooms will be snatched up quickly.

Go to the conference home page and click on the word "Registration" to access the form. You can register for the conference, the closing banquet whose speaker will be Hadassah Lieberman, Special Interest Group (SIG) luncheons, and other events. If you prefer not to register for the conference online, there is a provision on the online registration form to download a printed copy that can be filled-in and returned via mail or fax.

There is a special reduced conference rate for early registrants of $185. After May 15 the cost increases to $215. Early registration is also recommended because several of the special events have limits on the number of people who can be accommodated (such as the evening reception at the US Holocaust Museum).

The conference web site includes preliminary information about the speakers and topics that will be featured in more than 100 lectures at the conference.

Articles on World War I and World War II Draft Registration Cards

"Ancestry Daily News" featured this past week an article by Michael John Neill on the genealogical value of draft registration cards for World War I and World War II "Ancestry Daily News" is a regular e-zine of It features the latest additions to the database, an article each day on how to do your genealogical research more effectively, and other features. You can subscribe to it from the Home Page. Click on the link to "FREE Genealogy Newsletters."

Renewal Deadline for AVOTAYNU is February 28

AVOTAYNU subscribers whose subscription expired with the Winter 2002 issue received renewal notices with the issue. Be sure to renew by February 28 to receive the discount offered with the renewal notice. Those who renew for three years will receive a map of the Pale of Settlement including the Kingdom of Poland that was designed by Avotaynu. Subscribers outside the U.S. can renew by credit card at If you do not currently subscribe to our journal, AVOTAYNU, you can do so at

"Genealogy" a Spam Word?

I receive about 70 e-mails a day of which about 30 are spam. So I recently decided to use a spam editor called "MailWasher." MailWasher works by allowing you to preview the incoming e-mail. You can then assign a specific e-mail address (or domain) to the category of Friend or Blacklist. In future runs of gathering e-mail it will direct new messages to the Friend or Blacklist categories, or Normal category if the e-mail address is new.

One valuable feature of MailWasher is that it allows you to set up rules for detecting spam. For example, I added a rule that declares as spam any e-mail that has in the body of the message the word "Nigeria," "Nigerian," or "Strictly Confidential," the source of numerous e-mails about get-rich schemes. The author of MailWasher has done a valuable service in providing prewritten rules for deleting spam based on his personal experience.

I installed the prewritten spam rules on my computer and was amazed to find that one of the rules was that any message that had the word "genealogy" in it should be considered spam. Apparently companies such as, and a host of other commercial enterprises send out so much junk mail that the author of MailWasher considered it all spam.

Information about MailWasher can be found at It is shareware. It works for me.

Vol. 4, No. 2 - February 23, 2003

Final Notice! Renewal Deadline for AVOTAYNU Is February 28

Subscribers to our journal, AVOTAYNU, whose subscription expired with the Winter 2002 issue received renewal notices with the issue. Be sure to renew by February 28 to receive the discount offered with the renewal notice. Those who renew for three years receive a generous discount and a map of the Pale of Settlement including the Kingdom of Poland that was designed by Avotaynu. Subscribers outside the U.S. can renew by credit card at If you do not currently subscribe to AVOTAYNU, you can do so at Important Note: The renewal form has the wrong zip code for the return address. The correct zip code is 07621. For those persons who used the incorrect zip code, don't be concerned. The mail has been forwarded to us.

List of U.S. World War II Casualties Available on Internet

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration has placed on the Internet a list of military casualties which occurred during World War II. The database is scanned images of a computer printout made in 1946. It is organized by county within state, so it will be necessary to know where a person lived according to government records at the time of death. Each person who was killed is identified by name, serial number, rank and cause of death. Cause of Death is abbreviated into the following categories: KIA (Killed In Action), DOW (Died of Wounds), DOI (Died of Injuries), DNB (Died Non-Battle), FOD (Finding of Death), M (Missing). After linking to a particular state, read the two-page Forward to understand the information provided, including a more detailed description of causes of death.

Persons who served in the Army or Army Air Force can be found at .
Those who served in the Navy, Marines or Coast Guard can be found at If you have difficulty locating the sites described above, go to Links are provided at that site.

Archivist of the United States To Be Keynote Speaker at Conference

John Carlin, Archivist of the United States, will be the keynote speaker at the opening session of the 23rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. Carlin is the head of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the nation's record keeper. As previously announced, Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Senator and Vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, will be the speaker at the banquet.

There was a time when the annual Jewish genealogy conference drew its lecturers from within the milieu of Jewish genealogy. Of the more than 100 speakers who will present lectures at the conference, many are outside the realm of Jewish genealogy and are experts in their fields. They include:
* Valery Bazarov, director of the HIAS Location and Family History Service
* Alexander Beider, noted authority on Ashkenazic given names and surnames
* George Bolotenko of the National Archives of Canada, an authority on Eastern European archives
* Yaffa Eliach, author of the award-winning "There Once Was a World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok"
* Rachel Fisher, director of the Genealogy Institute of the Center for Jewish History in New York
* Kinga Frojimovics, former director of the Hungarian archives
* Ladislau Gyémánt, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of European Studies of Babe-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania. (He is also AVOTAYNU Contributing Editor for Romania.)
* Olga Muzychuk, director of the Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine
* Peggy Pearlstein, Area Specialist in the Hebraic Section of the Library of Congress
* Yale Reisner of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw
* Marian L. Smith, Historian for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
* Fay Zipkowitz, director of the Yiddish Book Department and Yiddish Cataloger at the National Yiddish Book Center

You can now register online for the 23rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Washington, DC, July 20-25, 2003. The conference web site is Browse the web site for a complete list of lectures and speakers as well as a list of special events.

The conference committee has arranged for discount air fares through U.S. Airways and is working on discounts for train travel through Amtrak.

Two Holocaust-related JewishGen Databases Are Updated

JewishGen has announced that its Holocaust Database and Yizkor Book Necrology Database have had recent updates.

The Holocaust Database now contains about 300,000 entries of the names of persons caught up in the Holocaust, both victims and survivors. For example, it now includes the names of more than 70,000 people interned at Dachau concentration camp. Also recently added is a list of 57,000 Jewish survivors who were in Poland after World War II. The database can be searched at

The Yizkor Book Necrology Database now has nearly 140,000 entries from the necrologies of 157 different yizkor books. It can be searched at Yizkor books are memorial books that commemorate Jewish communities of Central and Eastern Europe that were destroyed during the Holocaust. To date, more than 1,000 have been published. Most include a listing, a necrology, of the townspeople who were murdered.

New Site for Anglo-Jewish Research

A new site for Anglo-Jewish genealogical research is located at The site is a joint project of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and JewishGen. It will provide genealogical and historical information about the Jewish communities of the UK from the mid-17th century to the present day.

Plans call for providing basic information about each congregation/community: its history, a bibliography, research facilities, personal encounters and photographs. Currently the site contains approximately 100 congregations grouped into 13 communities. It is expected to grow to an estimated 500 congregations grouped into 80 communities.

The project will develop an integrated searchable database of civil and religious genealogical records from a variety of sources including: vital and circumcision records, synagogue membership lists, school pupil lists, trade directories, immigration records, Jewish charity records (including lists of donors) and newspaper records. It will also include a comprehensive list of links to other web sites for those interested in Anglo-Jewish genealogy, and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

More on Release of Canadian Census Records

An excellent critique of the proposed legislation that will allow release of 20th-century census records of Canada can be found at It is written by Gordon Watts, one of the prime movers of making these records available to the public.

It is not uncommon for legislative bills to receive a rigorous critique when first made available to the public. Watts comments do not imply he is opposed to the bill but rather that it needs a lot of cleaning up. For example, he notes that the bill as written allows access by genealogists or historians 92 years after a census is taken, but the researcher may not disclose the information discovered in those records for an additional 20 years. Watts notes that the restriction is useless and should be removed from the bill because it can be avoided by telling people where the information might be found. As now written, a genealogist would have to say "it is against the law for me to tell you who Great-grandaunt Sarah married, but if you go to the following repository and fill out a request..."

The actual bill, S-13, can be found at There is a link to that URL at

eGenConference Is Planned

Just when you think that every conceivable way of educating genealogists has been invented, Family History Radio (that is the company's name) has come up with the idea of holding conferences over the Internet--they are calling it an eGenConference. Why travel to Washington to attend the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, or to Orlando, Florida, to the "Conference for the Nation's Genealogists" sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies? From the comfort of your home, you can participate (after paying a $69.95 registration fee) in a conference that will "feature genealogy speakers and presenters, round table discussions with industry professionals, exhibitors, and Genealogy School social events, not to mention a virtual store with family history related products and services." Family History Radio itself started with the unusual concept of having live audio programs (hence the company's name) about genealogy over the Internet. Now they plan to have a total three-day eConference from June 10-12, 2003.

Family History Radio states there will be a virtual exhibit area where participants can visit virtual booths, view and demo products and purchase items online. There will be rooms to pick up press materials, view presentations and obtain literature. There will be an online school where participants can take lessons on a variety of genealogy topics. During the conference visitors can visit the eGenConference Virtual Social Hall where they can interact with other genealogists, visit discussion rooms on special topics of interest and learn more about genealogy societies, products and services.

The project has the approval of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and, both of whom are cosponsoring the event. Information about the conference can be found at

Should Jewish genealogists consider it? Probably not. Although the program has not yet been divulged, it is unlikely to include lectures of interest to Jewish researchers. If I was looking for a second conference to attend (first choice, by far, being the annual International Seminar on Jewish Genealogy in Washington this July), I would announce to my family, "We're going to DisneyWorld" and take them to the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Orlando, Florida, from September 3-6. Not only is the area a great tourist attraction, but the program of the conference will include lectures of Jewish interest, plus methodology lectures by the finest experts in American genealogy. The FGS conference web site is at

IAJGS Planning Genealogy Cruise

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies is planning a cruise that will mix pleasure with genealogy. The cruise, scheduled to take place December 1-5, 2003, will sail from Miami, Florida, to Key West (Florida) and Cozumel, Mexico. Nine lecturers will be giving talks that range from "Getting Started" to "Holocaust Research". All lecturers but one are all members of the IAJGS Board of Directors. Additional information can be found at the IAJGS web site

Finding People

Recently, on two consecutive days, I was placed in the position of having to find Jewish genealogists with whom contact was lost due to obsolete e-mail or postal addresses. In the first case, a fellow genealogist, who is the coordinator-by-default for one of my ancestral towns, Jalowka, Poland, had lost contact with an important researcher who lived in Argentina. In the second case, another genealogist was trying to locate a person whose e-mail address in the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) was no longer valid. I had rapid success in locating both parties.

There are three excellent sources for finding Jewish genealogists: JewishGen Family Finder, JewishGen Discussion Group archives and Google.

JewishGen Family Finder. The problem of locating the Argentinean genealogist was solved quickly by going to the JewishGen Family Finder at It is a database of more than 60,000 genealogists doing Jewish research showing the surnames and ancestral towns they are researching. It also shows the e-mail and postal addresses for most of the researchers. By searching JGFF using the Argentinean's own surname (almost everyone is researching their own surname) I was able to locate his listing which included his postal address and an updated e-mail address. Because this person was a serious researcher, he may not have notified everyone of his change of e-mail address, but he made certain it was posted correctly in JGFF.

As an aside, JGFF does not require participants to disclose their e-mail or postal addresses. You can refuse for privacy reasons and have inquiries forwarded to you. If you are a serious researcher, it is very foolish not to post this information and the above example is a good reason. Had the e-mail address at JGFF been the old, obsolete, address, the postal address would have been sufficient to locate the individual. Refusing to provide your e-mail and postal addresses is hypocritical because on the one hand you bemoan the fact that you do not have access to records of your ancestors "for privacy reasons" and yet you refuse to divulge your e-mail and postal addresses "for privacy reasons."

Google. The second problem, the case of a person who was listed in JGFF with only an e-mail address that was obsolete was rapidly solved by using the Google search engine at As the Internet grows, it is becoming commonplace for virtually everyone in an Internet-savvy country to be on the Internet at some web site. A few years ago, I was able to reunite a Russian Jewish family with their American relatives with whom they had lost contact for more than 50 years because a descendant of the American immigrant was listed in her high school alumni directory on the Internet, and I found her through Google. In the case of the bad JGFF e-mail address, I observed that the obsolete e-mail address was Canadian and the person's name was not very common. I went to Google and used the person's name as the key words. Just by reading the brief extract that Google provides for every found web site, it was obvious that I had located the person who lived in Toronto. One of the first few Google URLs I searched included the person's new e-mail address.

JewishGen Discussion Group Archives. I constantly use this as a source for locating Jewish genealogists when I do not have their e-mail address. The JewishGen Discussion Group is the most popular bulletin board in Jewish genealogy. The likelihood that a person active in Jewish genealogy would post a message or respond to one on this Discussion Group is very high. I just key in the person's name in the Archives search engine located at and the header portion of every message the person has posted since 1993 is displayed. The date of the posted message is also given so you know the likelihood of it being a fresh address.

Vol. 4, No. 3 - March 16, 2003

Avotaynu Plans to Publish Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy

Avotaynu is in the final stages of publishing a book that will be the ultimate guide to Jewish genealogical research. Titled
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. It has been more than four years in the making and will be published in time for the 23rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Washington, D.C. this July.

Sallyann Sack, co-owner of Avotaynu, and I have always talked about the need to publish a book that would be the "bible" of Jewish genealogy, but the project stalled because of (1) the enormous time it would take to write such a book and (2) the fact that not any, two or three persons has knowledge of the total spectrum of Jewish genealogical research.

Solution: Have many people write the chapters of the book, each an expert in his/her portion of Jewish genealogical research. That is what
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy is all about. It will contain more than 100 chapters and is being written by more than 60 authors. For example, the United Kingdom chapter has been written by Anthony Joseph, former president of the Jewish Historical Society of England and current president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. Miriam Weiner, who travels regularly to Ukraine for genealogical research, has written the Genealogical Resources in Ukraine chapter. Peggy Pearlstein, area specialist in the Hebraic section of the U.S. Library of Congress, has written a chapter on Compiled Genealogies. Professional genealogist Eileen Polakoff has written a number of chapters on generic research such as Methodology. The list goes on and on.

The planned Table of Contents can be viewed at

The central theme of the book's cover is taken from the 2000 Jewish Genealogy Month poster that depicts a Family Tree of the Jewish People showing the major branches--Ashkenazic, Sephardic and Oriental--and their many subbranches. It was designed by Caroline Guillot of the French Jewish Genealogical Society, GenAmi.

The estimated book size is 800 pages. A price has not yet been determined.

What's Nu with Stephen P. Morse

Stephen Morse is in the process of moving his site to a new server. The new Home Page address is It may take a few days for this new domain name to populate throughout the Internet so, if the URL does not work, try again at a later time. His motivation is the recent erratic nature of the server at his current Internet Service Provider.

Stephen Morse Takes On

After taking on the technical staff that developed the Ellis Island Database and putting them to shame, Stephen Morse has set his sights on genealogy giant He has created a superior portal to the 1920 and 1930 census data at the site. He allows searches that go well beyond what the Ancestry technicians offer the user. Morse's new site is at

The technicians designed a system that allows you to search by Last or First Name (Exact spelling, American Soundex or some wildcard ability), State, County, Township, Age, or Birthplace. To these capabilities the Morse portal to the Ancestry census sites has added the following search features:
  * First, middle and last name may contain a set of characters or End with a set of characters
  * Ancestry requires at least three characters to start a name for a wildcard search. Morse allows one or two characters.
  * Search by relationship to Head of Household. An important feature. One of the great advantages of the index is that it is an all-person index; you can search for any person in the household. As I noted in a previous edition of "Nu? What's New?" this can also be a disadvantage when browsing for a particular family, because it increases the number of false positives (people that meet the criteria but are not who you are looking for). Restricting the search to only Head of Household narrows the search for a particular family.
  * Search by microfilm number including a specific frame on the roll.
  * Search by Enumeration District including page within the ED.

Morse 1930 Census Site Now Links to

If you use the fee-for-service site to retrieve images of 1930 census records, Stephen Morse and his colleagues have added a feature to their 1930 census site of value to you. The original purpose of the Morse site was to determine the Enumeration District from a street address. It covers all cities that have at least 45,000 people and some smaller ones too. Now the site also gives you the option to automatically retrieve the census image at To use this new feature, once an ED is determined, click on its identification and a new web page displays the streets that bound the ED. Then click the button "View Microfilm" which opens another page that provides details about the film itself. The section of this page titled "View Census Images" permits you to automatically link to the site. Just click the "Display" or "Display-2" button. Another section, titled "Contents of Roll" provides valuable information about searching the actual microfilm roll, identifying the position of the ED within the roll itself. The Morse site is located at

Morse Ellis Island Site Now Includes All Ports

For some time the Morse Ellis Island in One Step site permitted searches by port of departure. This list of ports was only a sampling of about 100. Morse has informed me that he has completed implementing all 732 ports that brought immigrants to Ellis Island. The feature is available on the so-called White (background) Form located at

Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902) Now Online

It is still in beta test, but the word has gotten around the genealogical community that images of all editions of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1841-1902) are online at The newspaper existed from 1841-1955. It is a pity that the project did not extend into later years when more Jewish immigrants were present in Brooklyn.

The technology is quite good. After locating potential items of interest, you can preview the portion of an article that shows the keyword(s), preview the entire article, or the entire page. The keywords are highlighted making it easy to locate their reference within the article.

The site states you must use Internet Explorer; Netscape is not fully supported. I used Netscape with no problems.

New Avotaynu Offering: Ships of Our Ancestors

Ships manifests that document the arrival of an ancestor to their new land are prized possessions to genealogists. Of equal interest should be pictures of the ships themselves. That is the name of a book that has been available for a while --
Ships of Our Ancestors--and Avotaynu is now making it available through our online catalog.

The book provides photographs of nearly 900 ships that brought immigrants from Europe to new countries, mostly in North America. It identifies the shipping line and the year the ship was built. Avotaynu provides a list all the ships pictured in the book at our web site There is also a sample picture--the S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam of the Holland America Line. You can check the list to confirm the ship of interest in included in the book before you buy it. Price is $34.95 plus shipping.

DC Conference Will Include Three State Archivists

Three State Archivists are among the many prominent speakers and lecturers at the 23rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Washington, DC, July 20-25, 2003.

John Carlin, Archivist of the United States, will be the keynote speaker at the opening session. Lecturers include Vitalija Gircyte, Chief Archivist of the Kaunas Regional Archives in Lithuania, and Olga Muzychuk, Chief of the Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine. Also Kinga Frokimovics, formerly head of the Jewish Archives of Hungary will lecture.

The conference web site is You can register online for the event.

Avotaynu Authors to Have Book Signings at Washington Conference

If you are planning to attend the 23rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, you will have the opportunity to meet most of Avotaynu's authors at planned book signings. If you purchase their books, the authors will autograph them for you. If you have already bought the books, schlep them along to get them autographed.

Authors attending the conference who will participate in the signings include:

Alexander Beider: Jewish Surnames from Prague, A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, Ancient Ashkenazic Surnames
Warren Blatt: Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy
Boris Feldblyum: Russian-Jewish Given Names: Their Origins and Variants
Jeffrey S. Malka: Sephardic Genealogy
Gary Mokotoff: Where Once We Walked, How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust, Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy
Sallyann Amdur Sack: Where Once We Walked, A Guide to Jewish Genealogical Resources in Israel
Lawrence Tapper: A Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Jewry: 1909–1914
Suzan Wynne: Finding Your Jewish Roots in Galicia: A Resource Guide

Jewish Genealogy Month April 3 - May 2

This year's poster for Jewish Genealogy Month has just been shipped to the 80 Jewish genealogical societies throughout the world. Each year Avotaynu sponsors Jewish Genealogy Month, a time to put extra emphasis on promoting family history research among Jews. The societies are encouraged to place the posters in local Jewish institutions. This year's theme is "Where Once We Walked." It symbolically depicts the areas of the world where Jews once walked, but few Jews walk today. The poster can be viewed at

Vol. 4, No. 4 - March 30, 2003

Avotaynu Brings Back Prenumerantn Lists

In the 19th-early 20th centuries, authors of scholarly works often solicited advanced subscribers as a means of financing the publication of their work. In consideration of becoming an advanced subscriber, the person's name and town of residence was listed in the book. These lists were known as prenumerantn (Yiddish) or subscription lists. They are a genealogical resource because they place an individual in a specific place at a specific time.

The late Berl Kagan, who was a librarian at YIVO Institute and the Jewish Theological Seminary, both in New York, collected town names from these subscription lists and, in 1975, published a book titled
Hebrew Subscription Lists. It contained the Yiddish names of 8,700 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived at the beginning of the 20th century. Kagan's book was one of the sources used by Avotaynu to compile Where Once We Walked. Chester Cohen used Kagan's work for his book, Shtetl Finder, (published in 1980) to isolate the 1,200 most prominent towns where Jews lived. In Cohen's book, he names people who were advanced subscribers on these prenumerantn lists. Remarkably, there are two Mokotoffs listed in Shtetl Finder. (I guess we were a very well-read family.)

This summer, Avotaynu plans to publish a comprehensive guide to Jewish genealogy, appropriately titled
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. It is being written by more than 60 experts on Jewish genealogy and will consist of in excess of 100 chapters covering the complete spectrum of Jewish genealogical research (estimated size is 800 pages). Sallyann Sack and I, as owners of Avotaynu, thought it would be interesting to bring back the tradition of Hebrew Subscription Lists.

This is Avotaynu's offer to you. Pre-subscribe to
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy before the book goes to the printer--estimated to be early May 2003 and we will include your name and town of residence in the book as an advanced subscriber. Perhaps 150 years from now one of your descendants, lacking sufficient information about your history, will find your name as an advanced subscriber to "Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy."

The cost of the book (which we affectionately refer to as
The Guide) is $85.00. We are making a pre-publication offer to subscribers to our journal, AVOTAYNU, of $75.00. You can sign up for the book at We will not process your credit card information until the book is ready to be shipped. This web site includes the complete Table of Contents showing the broad scope of The Guide.

Become a part of Jewish history. Pre-subscribe to
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy and have your name listed in The Guide as a pre-subscriber.

At Last: Genealogical Resources in New York to Be Published

In 1985, the annual conference on Jewish genealogy was held in New York City. In preparation for the event, the host, Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc., prepared a syllabus that described the holdings of more than 50 repositories in the City where records of interest to genealogist are kept. The society printed about 100 more syllabi than the number of attendees (about 400) thinking that other people might be interested in the material. The additional copies sold out immediately.

The society made the commitment to publish the material in book form supplementing it with a greater description of repositories and expanding the number of locations described. Hence, in 1989, the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc., published
Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area. The book sold more than 4,000 copies until it went out of print in 1998.

Books of this sort slowly become obsolete as repositories expand their holdings and new facilities become important. So plans were made to produce a revised edition for the 1999 conference which was held in New York. Attendees were promised free copies because the cost was built into the registration fee. It took longer than realized to produce the revised edition and now, four years later, it will be available in late April.

The new book is titled
Genealogical Resources in New York because it limits itself to New York City and the state capital in Albany. Consequently, it does not completely replace Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area which included information about repositories in counties neighboring New York City and the New Jersey capital, Trenton. Yet the new book has slightly more pages than the original version demonstrating the addition of information about new repositories and expansion of existing ones.

If you attended the 1999 conference, you should have already received a notice from the society that they will be mailing you a free copy of the new book. If you have not yet received such a notice, e-mail the society at

The price of
Genealogical Resources in New York is $49.95. You can order it at the Avotaynu web site at There is a pre-publication discount offer for subscribers to our journal, AVOTAYNU. For only the next two weeks--until April 15, 2003--AVOTAYNU subscribers can purchase the book for only $42.50, a 15% discount. Thereafter the price will be $49.95 to all. The site includes the complete Table of Contents.

Routes to Roots Foundation Database Has New Material

New information has been added to the Routes to Roots Foundation database. It consists of an index to all known Jewish holdings of the archives in Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. The site is located at

For Ukraine, there is added data from the Vinnitsa Oblast Archives, specifically, birth and recruit records for the towns of Brailov, Dzyunkov, Gorishkovka, Kalinovka, Knyazhe, Komargorod, Kopaygorod, Mizyakov, Pikov, Stanislavchik, Strizhaka, Timanovka, Tomashpol, Tyvrov, Vinnitsa, Voroshilovka, Yanov, Yuzvin and Zhmerinka. Also from the Kiev Historical Archives for towns in Kiev oblast and Cherkassy oblast.

For Belarus, data has been added from the Grodno Historical Archives for towns in Grodno uezd represented in the 1897 All-Russian census. From the Minsk Historical Archives data on towns in Slutsk and towns Novogrudok uezds. Also census lists in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives noted below.

For Lithuania, census lists for the years 1765 (90 towns) and 1784 (140 towns). Many of the towns in the 1784 census list are now located within the current borders of Belarus.

Ukrainian Archives Expands Its Web Presence in English

There is now considerable information in English about the State Archives of Ukraine at their site There are now pages devoted to information about news and announcements, contacts (including e-mail addresses), list of regional archives, genealogical inquiries, programs and projects of the State Archives, other on-line resources, archival guides (most in Ukrainian), Ukrainica abroad, and frequently asked questions.

Morse Ellis Island Site Makes It Easier for Common Name Searches

The Stephen P. Morse Ellis Island Database portal now allows simultaneous searching for accompanying companions with the same surname. This may be valuable for researchers looking for immigrants with common names. Morse notes that there are 219 men named Abraham Gold in the Ellis Island Database. Knowing that the Abraham Gold being sought was accompanied by his wife, Sarah, narrowed the results to only 10 hits. The capability only works on the so-called Blue Form which is limited to Jewish immigrants, or, more properly, immigrants whose race was listed as "Hebrew."

All Stephen P. Morse web pages can be linked to from the home page at

JewishGen Adds an All-Hungary Database

JewishGen has added an "All-Hungary Database" at This follows the trend to have databases of information about individual Jews from various countries on ancestry. Presently there are "All-Country" databases for Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania. The Jewish Record Indexing - Poland project serves a comparable function for Polish Jewry. A JewishGen All-Country Database is actually an index to multiple databases from sources in the specified country. A search engine then identifies which sub-databases contain the key words specified. Key words are usually surnames or town names.

A list of all JewishGen databases can be viewed at They are categorized into General, America, Belarus, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, South Africa and Utilities.

Central Archives for the Jewish People Needs Financial Aid

It is an unfortunate fact of life that in poor economic times a government's first concern is feeding its people and its last concern is preserving its history. Given today's world economy there are too many examples. For example, the State of Florida plans to close its State library and give the collection to private institutions because it cannot afford to maintain the library.

The most recent example is a worrisome letter Avotaynu received from the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People whose financial support primarily comes from the Israeli government. Director Hadassah Assouline says funding from the government has been cut back so sharply that they are in danger of closing their doors. They are now forced to go to the public to ask for contributions.

Their collection is substantial.

 * 5,000 linear meters of documents, records and files
 * 1,600 archives of communities, organizations and individuals
 * 6,000,000 frames of microfilmed documents
 * 800 lists and inventories of documents and files concerning Jews, held in other archives
 * 10,000 photographs of Jewish personalities and sites
 * 8,000 printed statutes, reports, leaflets, posters and handbills
 * 1,000,000 newspaper clippings on various subjects
 * 10,000 books and publications on Jewish history

You can learn more about the Central Archives and their collection at their web site:

In the United States, tax deductible contributions may be made through P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc., 317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017.

Sites with Indexes to New York Naturalizations

Three sites now provide indexes to naturalizations for New York City.

N.Y. State Supreme Court - Kings County (Brooklyn), 1907-1924 with 253,403 names at

N.Y. State Supreme Court - New York County (Manhattan), 1907-1924, 136,000 individuals at This is a commercial site. You must subscribe to their service.

U.S. District Court - Southern District Court (Manhattan), 1906-1949 with 500,000 names at Also at this site are naturalizations in Nassau and Suffolk counties (Long Island) and at New York military camps in the New York area.

Reported by Renee Steinig of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island.

Launch Canadian Genealogy Centre Web Site

As a joint venture, the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada has launched a genealogy web site at At present, the site is not much more than a shell, but future plans call for making it "the primary online site for access to genealogical resources in Canada." It "will provide access to all genealogical resources in Canada. It will offer genealogical content, services, advice, and tools, and provide Canadians with the opportunity to work on joint projects online in both official languages." Persons with Canadian heritage should check the site periodically as it grows to determine if there is information of value to their research.

Photos of Warsaw Ghetto at Yad Vashem Site

Yad Vashem has placed at their Internet site a large collection of photographs from the Warsaw ghetto. It is at The events of the Warsaw ghetto were recently exposed to the public in the film The Pianist which depicts the life of Polish-Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman during the Holocaust period. The film won three Academy Awards.

The Yad Vashem collection comes from four sources:
* The Jewish Self-help Organization that existed in the ghetto
* An album from a German soldier
* Workshops in the Warsaw Ghetto
* The Juergen Stroop collection. Stroop was the SS commandant responsible for the final liquidation of the ghetto.

Vol. 4, No. 5 - April 6, 2003

Sephardic Genealogy Wins AJL Judaica Reference Award

Sephardic Genealogy, the latest book published by Avotaynu, has won the Association of Jewish Libraries "Best Judaica Reference Award" for 2002. Since created in 1984 no other publisher has won this award more than once. This is the third book published by Avotaynu to receive the award. Previous winners are Where Once We Walked (1991) and A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland (1996).

Sephardic Genealogy was written by Jeffrey S. Malka, M.D., a retired orthopedic surgeon, who is very active in Sephardic genealogical research. He has been researching his Sephardic roots for more than 20 years and is the author of "Resources for Sephardic Genealogy," an award-winning website for Sephardic genealogy. He was asked by JewishGen in 2001 to create its SefardSIG section, a site he continues to develop. Dr. Malka is descended from a long line of Sephardic rabbis. His grandfather was chief rabbi of Sudan from 1906-1949.

The book is 384 pages. Additional information, including a complete Table of Contents, can be found at

Articles in the Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU

There are so many good things in the forthcoming Spring issue of our journal AVOTAYNU that it will take two issues of
Nu? What's New? to describe them all. The issue should be in print in about 30 days.

The hottest news in Jewish genealogy today is the acquisition of JewishGen by the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, so AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Amdur Sack, decided to get the three key people involved in the acquisition to write about their perspective of the event. The lead story in the issue is by Susan E. King, founder and managing director of JewishGen. This is followed by the views of David Marwell, director of the Museum. Finally, Harvey Krueger, a philanthropist and avid genealogist--the "shadchen" (matchmaker) in the deal--tells why he got involved.

Stanley Diamond, the prime mover behind the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland project, editorializes that every genealogist has a wish list of records s/he wishes was more accessible. Diamond has a simple solution to the problem: you should volunteer some of your time to make it happen. This was the major key to the success of the JRI-Poland project that now has indexed more than 1,800,000 birth, marriage and death records of Polish Jewry. It is an ongoing project involving scores, if not hundreds of volunteers.

Ernest Kallmann has written a fascinating article titled "More Than a Book Review" about a book that provides the history of the synagogue in Kippenheim, Germany, from the Holocaust era to the present. It describes how the attitude of the local German people changed toward the structure from generation to generation. The building was seized by the Nazis in 1939. Plans called for its demolition for being "un-German" and replacement with a housing complex. Instead it was sold at auction and used for a variety of purposes during World War II. After the war, successive owners used the building as a workshop and then a storage facility. Only after the town government came under the influence of Germans born after World War II was there a movement to restore it to be a Jewish structure. While the younger generation felt a duty to restoring it as a synagogue, the older generation was concerned with matters such as who would pay for the restoration and what would happen to the current contents of the building. Eventually, it was restored and a memorial plaque placed on it identifying the Jewish townspeople murdered in the Holocaust.

More information about the issue will appear in the next edition of
Nu? What's New?

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at If you were a 2002 subscriber and have not yet renewed, you can do so at the same site.

Advanced Subscriber List for The Guide

Any person pre-ordering
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy will have his/her name and town appear in the book on an advanced subscriber list. The name will appear exactly as it is on the order form. Consequently, a married woman who uses her maiden name in genealogical research should include it with the order. In the first week, more than 100 people have become advanced subscribers to the book. Information is available at

To be added or removed from this mailing list, go on the Internet to

To change your e-mail address, go on the Internet to and remove the old address and add the new address.

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

Copyright 2002, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

Send requests to reproduce portions of
Nu? What's New? to