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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 9, Number 10 | April 27, 2008

JOWBR Now Exceeds One Million Records
The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) now exceeds one million records. The total number of cemeteries in JOWBR is now 1,929 and total number of burials is 1,006,675. These cemeteries are located throughout the world. The extraction of the information from tombstones was accomplished by volunteers.

JewishGen suggests that as family historians visit ancestral towns or towns in your current country of residence, they should consider recording data from the Jewish cemeteries and/or photographing all the
tombstones in the cemetery or landsmanschaft plot and submit it for inclusion in JOWBR.

You can search the JOWBR database at A list of cemeteries in the 40 countries already included can be found at JewishGen also hosts the International Jewish Cemetery Project whose mission is to catalogue every Jewish burial site throughout the world. It is a project of the of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. It is located at

FAMILYTreeDNA Forms Second Company: DNATraits
FamilyTreeDNA has formed a second company, DNATraits, whose purpose is to offer DNA tests associated with certain Ashkenazic genetic diseases. The diseases are:
    * Abetalipoproteinemia Gaucher Disease
    * Adrenal Hyperplasia, classical and non-classical Glycogen Storage Disease 1A
    * Bloom Syndrome Glycogenosis VII Phosphokinase Deficiency, Late Onset
    * Canavan Disease Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome
    * Chorea-Acanthocytosis Idiopathic Torsion Dystonia
    * Cystic Fibrosis Lipoamide dehydrogenase deficiency
    * Factor XI Deficiency Maple Syrup Urine Disease
    * Familial Dysautonomia Mucolipidosis, Type IV
    * Familial Hypercholesterolemia Nemaline Myopathy
    * Familial Hyperinsulinism Niemann-Pick Disease, Types 1 and 2
    * Familial Mediterranean Fever Non-Syndromic Deafness
    * Fanconi Anemia, Complementation Group C Tay-Sachs Disease
    * Usher Syndrome, Types 1F and 3

The company stated that they comply with the Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) DNA testing policy statement published by the American College of Medical Genetics. Their website is located at

New Book: Tide & Wreck: The History of the Jews of Vardar Macedonia
Avotaynu has just published an English-language version of the book Tide & Wreck: The History of the Jews of Vardar Macedonia. Authored by Jennie Lebel, it is the result of more than 30 years of her research into the history of Vardar Macedonian Jews until the Final Solution in Treblinka. Until now there has been only a Hebrew edition published in 1986 and a Serbian one in 1990. This English version is an expanded one—426 pages—that is much more comprehensive and enriched with material found in new documents written in many languages. The author states that Tide and Wreck is dedicated to the Jews of ex-Yugoslavia, especially to those who lived in Macedonia for centuries until their tragic end in the Holocaust. The wounds have never healed, but this book is helping to repay at least some of the debt to their memory.

Ordering information as well as the complete Table of Contents can be found at Avotaynu previous published Jennie Lebel’s work on the Jews of Belgrade titled Until the Final Solution: The Jews in Belgrade 1521–1942. Information about that book is located at It includes the Table of Contents.

New Canadian Genealogy Search Engine
Three major archives in Canada have created a consolidated search engine that permits their online databases to be searched in one step. The groups are Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BanQ), Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Council of Provincial and Territorial Archivists (CPTA) of Canada. The site, called “That’s My Family” (“Voici ma famille” in French) is located at The site is similar to many of the functions at the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site in that it does not have a search engine but instead uses the search engines at the three facilities and filters the results back to the user as a single search. The search can take a while because it actually is searching a number of sites consecutively to find information.

You can do surname searches as well as topical searches. Searching for “Jewish” produced 1,169 results. Some of the sites use fuzzy logic to provide results. Searching for “Mokotoff” produced results in British Columbia for a family named Makortoff. Searching for Tartacki yielded results for people named Tack.

For additional information and analysis see Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter located at

APG To Hold Roundtable on Record Access
In the March 30, 2008, (Volume 9, Number 7) edition of Nu? What’s New? I reported that organized genealogy in the U.S. is becoming proactive in fighting attempts to limit access to records important to family history. The latest evidence is that the Association of Professional Genealogists plans to hold a roundtable discussion on records preservation and access at the annual conference on the National Genealogical Society to be held next month in Kansas City, Missouri. David Rencher will moderate the discussion. He is chair of the Records Preservation and Access Committee created some years ago by the National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. For more information about this committee see

Deadline for Early Registration Looms for Chicago Conference
Time is running out to take advantage of the early-bird registration rate for the 28th International Conference of Jewish Genealogy to be held in Chicago from August 17–22. Until April 30 the rate is $250. Thereafter it is $295 with onsite registration(after August 8) $325. Online registration is at

One of the interesting evening lectures should be “The Litvak-Galitzianer Wars: The Cultural Geography of East European Jewry” which will be given Wednesday, August 20 at 7 pm. Four of five American Jews trace their ancestry to Eastern Europe, but that region was quite diverse in religious practices, Yiddish pronunciation, foods, customs, dress and political ideologies. Some of this diversity carried over to the Americas, but over several generations it has faded. This talk will explore the differences among East European Jews and the stereotypes to which they gave rise, illustrating the richness and vitality of a civilization which continues to form Jewish life in Europe, the Americas and Israel.

The speaker is Zvi Gitelman, Professor of Political Science and Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. The lecture is a Lucille Gudis Memorial Lecture sponsored by JGS, Inc. (New York City)

Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU
 We are assembling the Spring issue of AVOTAYNU and, once again, it has a number of articles of value on Jewish genealogical research.
     * Hadassah Assouline, director fo the Central Archives for the History of Jewish People writes about recent acquisitions of her organization of interest to genealogists. In addition to naming specific acquisitions, Assouline notes that CAHJP has been engaged for the past few years in cataloguing collections from South America. One such collection, numbering close to 10,000 files, is of the Argentinean branch of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA).
     * Shalom Bronstein writes of the holdings of the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem as a genealogical resource. This is the archives of Zionism worldwide. As Bronstien notes in his article, “with nearly two million names, it is a gold mine of information that offers every Jewish genealogist an opportunity to discover unknown details.”
     * Neville Lamdan, director of the International institute for Jewish Genealogy, provides an update of the projects being worked on by his organization. To me, the two most exciting projects (among many) of IIJG are the Sephardic DNA project—attempting to identify a characteristic haplotype among Jews with documented lineages going back to pre-expulsion Spain—and the project to “Reconstitute the Destroyed Communities of the Holocaust.” As Lamdan notes, “(this is) an ambitious project designed to recreate, in a virtual environment, the network of kinships that characterized European Jewish communities on the eve of the Shoah.”
     * H. Daniel Wagner reports on a project that was recently given a grant from IIJG to merge metrical death data and cemetery records for the town of Zdunska Wola, Poland, for the purpose of creating family trees from the data.

There are numerous other articles in the issue plus the usual collection of news from our contributing editors in 15 countries, the U.S. Update column, Ask the Experts and book reviews.

If you were a subscriber in 2007 and have not yet renewed your subscription for 2008, a postcard 
was sent to you recently. Return the card with a check for the annual subscription price to Avotaynu’s offices, or you can renew online at New subscribers can subscribe at the same site.

Bounced E-mail to Jewish Genealogists
A posting to the Romania SIG Discussion Group seeking an updated e-mail address reminded me that one of the great sources for e-mail addresses of Jewish genealogists is the JewishGen Family Finder. This is a database of ancestral towns and surnames being researched by more than 50,000 genealogists throughout the world. The search engine is located at Invariably people are researching there own surname; therefore, search for all those who are looking for a given surname changing the search parameter from “Sounds Like” to “Exactly.” JGFF will not give you the e-mail address but will forward a message to the person. This approach was adopted by JewishGen a number of years ago, because spammers were mining e-mail addresses of participants. The technique will not work for married women who are not researching their husband’s or ex-husband’s family.

Every Family Has a Story Being Shipped
Avotaynu will be shipping this week copies of its new book Every Family Has a Story to advanced purchasers. The book consists of 72 articles previously published in AVOTAYNU that focus on the human side of genealogy—how genealogists have been personally affected by their research and how the research of genealogists has affected others. Additional information can be found at It includes the complete Table of Contents and a sample story.

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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