Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 8, Number 5 | March 13, 2007

Not much to report in this issue.

ITS Records to Be Released to Participating Countries
The Associated Press is reporting that the eleven-nation body overseeing the International Tracing Service archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has set procedures in motion to open the ITS records to the public before the end of 2007. This may occur even before all the nations approve the process. Four countries of the eleven countries have already approved then plan: Israel, The Netherlands, Poland and the United States. Germany, Britain and Luxembourg have indicated they will give approval in the next two months. The status of Belgium, France, Greece and Italy is unclear.

Reto Meister, head of the International Tracing Service located at Bad Arolsen, has stated that digitized copies of “core documents” would be ready within two months. These include incarceration records, death lists, camp registries and transportation lists. It is estimated that ITS has about 40 million documents involving some 17.5 million people. In addition Meister plans to develop a set of rules to be approved by the commission that would allow scholars to access the records directly at Bad Arolsen.

No institution has yet made a commitment as to how long it will take to make the copies of these records available to the public and in what manner. The volume of information is staggering, and it may take some time to develop the software that would make access to the collection practical.

Additional information can be found at

JOWBR Database Grows
The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) now has 689,125 burial records from 1,525 cemeteries and cemetery sections online. The database is located at Recent additions include 13,200 records from Botosani, Moldavia; 16,000 records for Colorado cemeteries; and an additional 8,000 records from the Toronto, Canada, area. One of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the Western Hemisphere, the Berg Altena in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, has also been documented with 1,217 burial records.

Persons or organizations interested in submitting to JOWBR can find information about the project at JewishGen does not accept individual family burial data. They only accept data from an entire cemetery or an entire landsmanschaft/organization plot within a larger cemetery.

March 15 Deadline for Resubscribing to AVOTAYNU at a Discount
If your subscription to AVOTAYNU expires with the Winter issue, there will be a yellow insert with the issue providing information on how to resubscribe. The insert notes that if you resubscribe by March 15, you can renew at a special discounted rate. We have received reports that certain areas of Canada have not yet received their issue which was mailed about three weeks ago. If you have not yet received your issue, please write to us at

If you are not already an AVOTAYNU subscriber and wish to subscribe, you can do so at There is a special five-issue offer that includes the Winter issue.

News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at A log in is required. You can link the SIG home pages from There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at

Belrus SIG. A website,, has many photos—past and present-day—-of towns in Belarus. The site is organized by region of the country, then district and town. There are Belorussian, English, Polish and Russian versions of the site. In some cases, there are pictures of the synagogue or Jewish cemetery.

Romanian SIG. Alex Volkov bought on eBay a 1927 book titled “Bessarabia,” scanned it and placed the entire contents of the book at It details life in the region. The index at the back of the book shows there are pages devoted to Jewish life.

Ship Date for A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries
Our printer has informed us that they will ship A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries on March 29. This means we will be sending copies to purchasers about two weeks later.

This book is the most comprehensive text on Jewish cemeteries to date, providing historic, legal, traditional and mystical information in easy-to-understand format. Information is sourced from Jewish theological schools of learning, site visits and experts in forensics, genealogy and monument preservation from seven countries. The text is illustrated with 107 photographs and diagrams. It is an invaluable tool for the genealogist, researcher, student, tour guide and traveler. Included are:
   • A history of Jewish burial from Abraham to present day
   • A simple course on how to read Hebrew tombstone text and dates
   • A detailed explanation of Jewish tombstone symbols
   • History and location of famous Jewish cemeteries and Nazi camps
   • Burial sites and biographies of 260 famous Jews
   • Tombstone photography, rubbing and preservation
   • How to approach people who vandalize cemeteries
   • Strategies to prevent destruction of cemeteries by companies and governments
   • Jewish law and tradition concerning cemeteries
   • Information about ancient Jewish burials
   • Jewish burial customs in Israel, the Arab World and Iberia
   • Use of forensic science to find burial locations

The cost of the book is $39.00 plus shipping. There is a pre-publication discount offer to persons who subscribe to our quarterly journal, AVOTAYNU. Until April 1, AVOTAYNU subscribers can purchase the book for only $32.50 plus shipping, a 17% savings. When ordering the book, note in the comments section of the order that you are a subscriber. (We check our records anyway and subscribers will automatically get the discount.) Additional information, including the complete Table of Contents and a sample chapter can be found at To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, go to

Help Grow the Shoah Victims’ Names Database
Yad Vashem wants volunteers who are willing to contact local institutions and individuals to grow the Shoah Victims Database whose principal documents are Pages of Testimony. With the aid of promotional materials Yad Vashem has developed, volunteers will reach out to survivors and their families and assist them in registering the names of Jews who they know were murdered in the Shoah. This will be done through synagogues, Holocaust centers, Jewish Community Centers, Jewish student organizations, senior centers and social service agencies. To volunteer send your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to with the subject heading "Names Volunteer"

To submit a Page of Testimony, there is a link on the left portion of the screen from the Basic Search page at Click the words “Submit Additional Names.”

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