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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 10, Number 17 | August 30, 2009

This edition is going to 8,513 subscribers

Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
CJSI to be Updated
Avotaynu plans to update its Consolidated Jewish Surname Index (CJSI) in the next few months. CJSI is the gateway to information about 700,000 surnames, mostly Jewish, that appear in different databases. These include most of the JewishGen surname databases, all surname books published by Avotaynu and other databases such as the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter, Sephardic surname databases, and Holocaust memorial books such as Gedenkbuch and Memorial to the Jews Deported from France. The database is sequenced phonetically rather than alphabetically using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. Therefore, spelling variants of a name that sound the same are grouped together.

The major advantage to genealogists with Jewish heritage is that it is not necessary to search all the individual databases. CJSI will identify which database being searched has the surname (and its variants). For each online database in CJSI there is a link to the site where the surname can be individually searched, or there is link to a website where additional information can be found about those databases not online.

CJSI is used by non-Jews who think they may have Jewish heritage to determine if a surname is Jewish. This misuse of the database is so great that the matter is addressed at the site where there is a discussion of what is a Jewish surname. It notes that a surnames in CJSI is not necessarily Jewish because:
   • Jews and non-Jews share surnames. The third most common Jewish surname in the United States (after Cohen and Levy) is Miller. Clearly Miller in both non-Jewish and Jewish.
   • Intermarriage and conversion. The fact that the surname McKenney appears in CJSI does not mean necessarily that Jews bore this name. One source , the Family Tree of the Jewish People, is a database of family trees developed by Jewish genealogists, but these trees would also include non-Jewish branches of families.
   • Nature of database. Some of the databases named are predominantly Jewish but do contain non-Jewish individuals. An example is the Russian Consular Records database of people who transacted business with the czarist consulates in the United States.

Some years ago I found a link to CJSI at an anti-Semitic site. The site stated that if you want to know if you are dealing with a Jew, go to CJSI and see if his surname appears. This is nonsense because of the reasons described above.

CJSI is the most-visited page at the Avotaynu website with more than 2,500 visits per week. It is located at

IAJGS Plans Multilingual Conference Internet Site
Planners for the 30th International conference on Jewish Genealogy are looking for volunteers to translate the informational pages of the conference’s website. The event will be held July 2010 in Los Angeles. The languages are Farsi, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian. Translation is needed for descriptive text of approximately 1,000 words. Persons fluent in any of these languages who are willing to volunteer for the project should contact Pamela Weisberger, Co-Chair IAJGS Conference 2010 at Is Going Public has filed an Initial Public Offering to sell $75 million of stock to the public. The filing requires disclosure of the company’s operations. As of June 30, 2009:
   • they had just short of one million paid subscribers (990,959)
   • revenue from paid subscribers approaches $200 million per year
   • they spend $60 million per year on marketing and advertising
The full public disclosure document can be found at

Where Is Susan King?
What happened to Susan King, founder of JewishGen? Is she limiting her time to sailing on the Aegean Sea or playing the steel drums. No, Susan is still involved in genealogy in her own special way. She has a website at Probably the most direct benefit to genealogists is her radio show that airs every Tuesday where she alternates between interviewing genealogists and spiritualists.

This Tuesday, September 1, she will interview Alexander Beider, author of numerous books on Jewish names published by Avotaynu. The time is 2 p.m. on the east coast of the U.S., 11 a.m. on the west coast, 7 p.m. in England, 8 p.m. in most of Continental Europe and 9 p.m. in Israel. The link to the show is at

The next genealogy interview will be with Daniel Horowitz of, on September 15. A complete list of planned interviews can be found at the radio show site.

Sadie Is Not a Jewish Given Name
What Jewish reader of this column with roots in Eastern Europe does not have a relative named “Sadie”? One would think it is certainly a Jewish given name. Name dictionaries note that it is a diminutive for the Hebrew name “Sarah.”

Sadie is not a Jewish given name. It apparently is a name chosen by Jewish women who immigrated to the U.S. and changed their name to something “more American,” just like the names Rose, Harry and Charles. Of the 24 million people in the online Ellis Island database, 3,476 were women named “Sadie.” Only 181 Sadies were Jewish. Of the first 100 Sadies, only four were Jewish.

Based on the Ellis Island database, Sadie is a name used by English and Irish women. In fact, of the four Jewish Sadies noted above, two emigrated from England.

Sadie does not appear in Alexander Beider’s A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names or its condensed version Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants.

Sephardic Genealogy–Second Edition Shipped
All orders for the new book, Sephardic Genealogy–Second Edition, have been shipped. It is an update to the award-winning Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World. Nearly 100 pages longer, this new edition revises all the chapters to include new information and updates all Internet and mail addresses. It adds a new chapter on DNA as well as new chapters on the available resources for the Sephardic communities of Portugal, England, Rhodes, Hamburg-Altona, and Vienna. There is also a new chapter on how to research the Spanish archives with clues on deciphering old Spanish script. The Internet chapter now includes more than 300 links to sites that have information valuable to Sephardic research.

Additional information, including a complet4e Table of Contents, can be found at

Join the Global Effort to Recover the Names of Shoah Victims
Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact

 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.”

Nu? What's New is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2009, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To be added or removed from this mailing list, go to the Internet site To change your e-mail address, go to the same site and remove the old address and add the new address.

Back issues of
Nu? What's New? are available at

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

To order books from our catalog, go to

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 155 N. Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621