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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 10, Number 27 | December 20, 2009

This edition is going to 8,539 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.
Google Fined by French Courts
A Paris court ruled Friday that Google Inc.'s expansion into digital books breaks France's copyright laws, and a judge slapped the Internet search company with a €10,000-a-day fine until it stops showing literary snippets. Google was also ordered to pay €300,000 in damages and interest to French publisher La Martiniere, which brought the case on behalf of a group of French publishers.

Meanwhile in the U.S., using the class action suit mechanism as a cover, Google persuaded the American courts to turn upside down copyright laws that state if you want to use someone’s property—a copyrighted work—you must first ask permission. In the settlement, Google is permitted to use copyrighted works without permission, and the copyright holder has to complain to Google to get them to stop.

Snippets have been available on Google Books since 2006. They are 3-4 line extractions from copyrighted works. Google convinced (undoubtedly paid) certain university libraries—University of Michigan, for example—to allow them to digitize their book collection, including copyrighted works, and Google indexed every word in the book. When there is a search using Google Books, the search engine provides a few lines from a book that contain the searched keywords—called a snippet. Google probably considers such a small extraction of a copyrighted work to fall under the “fair use” provision of American copyright laws.

Snippets might seem quite innocent. Also, to use the excuse of many copyright violators, “they will only enhance sales.” But they certainly are detrimental to certain reference works. Take Avotaynu’s Where Once We Walked, which the University of Michigan allowed Google to copy and digitize. About two years ago I discovered this fact. When I searched for the Polish town of Karczew, Google provided a snippet from the book; just three short lines. They are:

Karczew, Pol.; (Kartchev, Kartshev) pop. 836; 25 km SE of
Warszawa; 52̊05'/21̊15'; COH, EDRD, FRG, GA, GUM3,

In other words, the complete entry for the town is provided. I sent a letter to Google requesting that snippets be removed for Where Once We Walked. It took them more than two years, but eventually they removed the snippets of the book from their site.

Google should not go to the University of Michigan for permission to digitize a copyrighted work. They should go to the copyright owner. It is not Google’s privilege to use copyrighted works until the copyright owner asks them to stop.

As to the University of Michigan, perhaps its students, the next time they congregate to oppose the war in Afghanistan or equal rights for [you fill in the name of the group] or raises in tuition, they should also complain about their university participating in copyright infringement.

An article about the French court decision can be found at

Annual Conference to Include a “Market Square Fair”
The 2010 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will include a “Market Square Fair” where Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Birds of a Feather groups (BOFs) can display their wares and attendees can get one-on-one research help from these regional experts. There will also be booths by other genealogically related non-profits and educational groups along with craft guilds, historical map information, book signings and more.

The 2010 conference is being held in Los Angeles at the Marriott L.A. Live hotel from July 11–16. Registration will open on January 15 and will be accessible through the conference website at

If you are considering arriving early, there will be Shabbat-friendly pre-conference learning at the Marriott on Saturday, July 10th and a Chabad house within walking distance of the hotel for services.

To be up on all the late-breaking conference news, subscribe to our newsletter at

The host of the conference is the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles.

Dicionario Sefaradi de Sobrenomes Now Available in Softcover
The hardcover version of Dicionário Sefaradi de Sobrenomes (Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames) is almost out of print. Avotaynu has arranged with the authors to publish a softcover version. This magnificent book won the “Best Reference Book” award of the Association of Jewish Libraries for 2003. It includes hundreds of rare photographs, family shields and illustrations. In addition to the dictionary portion, there is a 72-page summary of Sephardic history, before and after the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, and a 40-page linguistic essay about Sephardic names, including a list of the 250 most common surnames.

The hardcover version is printed on high quality paper and the text is two color. The softcover version is lower in cost and the text portion is black-only on standard paper. The book is bilingual: Portuguese and English.

The dictionary portion is a compilation of 17,000 surnames presented under 12,000 entries. All names were used by the Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal for 15 centuries and later spread across the world as Sephardim, marranos and conversos.
We still have eight hardcover copies in stock (we might be able to get more copies from the authors). The cost is $60.00. The softcover version is only $39.95.

Additional information—including a sample page—is available at

Archival Photos of New York City Buildings
Most Jewish-Americans have some roots in New York City. Now you can get a photograph of the building in which you ancestors lived from the New York City Municipal Archives.

Between 1939 and 1941, and again in the mid-1980s, the city photographed every house and building in the five boroughs for tax appraisal purposes. Photographic prints of these images are now available for purchase. The cost is a complicated formula but is approximately $50 for the first photo (8”x10”) and $40 for each additional one.

Complete information can be found at

New Resources Completes Canadian Arrivals. has completed their database of Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865–1935, with records documenting the arrival into Canada of more than 750,000 individuals between 1919 and 1924. The total collection now includes more than eight million records and is available at
West Virginia Vital Records Online. The State of West Virginia is not exactly a hotbed for Jewish families, but they recently completed making available online an index to vital records as well as the records themselves. Birth records are available though 1908, marriages and deaths through about 1970. The site is located at

Dictionary of Jewish Bulgarian Surnames has been placed on the web. It includes 798 surnames, many of which were found in the Balkans. The details given for each surname are:: (1) surname, (2) all its variants, (3) language it derives from, (4) its meaning, (5) when available, a reference to its historical background in medieval Spain. The database can be found at Other Sephardic databases can be link to at
Scotland Vital Records. Indexes to modern marriage records from 1934-2006 have now been added to the ScotlandsPeople site at The site now has indexes of Scottish births, marriages and deaths (1855–2006 and images of births(1855–1908), marriages (1855–1933) and deaths (1855–1958). Latvian Newspapers 1895–1957 Online. It was posted to the Latvian SIG Digest that the Latvian National Digital Library is offering online 40 newspaper and magazine titles in Latvian, German, and Russian, ranging from 1895 to 1957—altogether more than 45,000 issues and 350,000 pages. The newspapers have full-word indexing and display the actual news article with the search word(s) highlighted. Additional information (in English) can be found at

End-of-Year Appeal To Help IIJG Continue Its Success
This is the time of year when we are bombarded with pleas for charitable donations. I confess that this is one too—and the charity is our International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG). As most of you know, the Institute is the newest star in the Jewish genealogical firmament. We've come a long way in four short years.

Our director, Ambassador Neville Lamdan, detailed the Institute’s progress in the summer 2009 issue of AVOTAYNU (“Jewish Genealogy: Moving Toward Recognition as a Sub-branch of Jewish Studies”). If you missed it, go to our website,, where you will find it under PROGRESS/”Progress Reports”/ electronic link at the bottom of the page.

Last year, at the height of the financial “tsunami,” we appealed to you for help. You came through; we met our goal and survived. Much gratitude and special thanks go to one of the Institute's founders, Sophie Caplan of Sydney, Australia. Sophie's generous gift in memory of her late husband, Leslie, will allow us to realize another important goal, the opening of a repository for personal genealogical papers at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, alongside the Paul Jacobi papers. Chava Agmon's fabulous collection of documents on the Caro family will be the first acquisition.

IIJG must rely on support from colleagues because foundations have been hit by the world economic situation. As before, one philanthropist has offered us a matching grant contingent upon donations from other Jewish genealogists. In this case, numbers matter more than the size of your individual gifts. We will happily accept $18, $36 or whatever you can give. More is always better, of course, but we are grateful for all contributions.

Those who pay U.S. taxes may make tax-deductible contributions payable to the Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy. You can make your contribution in a variety of ways:
    • Through PayPal at PayPal accepts credit cards as well as payment through a PayPal account.
    • Send a check payable to “Friend of IIJG” to Avotaynu Foundation; 155 N. Washington Ave; Bergenfield, NJ 07621; USA
    • Send a check payable to the “International Institute for Jewish Genealogy,”
         c/o Dr. Neville Lamdan, director
         8/1 Ha-Zamir Street
         P.O. Box 84226
         Mevasseret Zion, Israel 90805

Thank you for your generosity.
Best wishes,

Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus

IIJG Chair

Annual Group Trip to Lithuania
Once again, genealogists Howard Margol and Penny Mosinger Freedman are organizing a group trip to Lithuania from June 22 to July 2, 2010. Included are visits to the various archives, synagogues, former ghettos, Holocaust sites, meetings with Jewish leaders, sightseeing, guide/interpreters, and two days to visit and spend time in your shtetl or shtetlach of interest. Trip cost includes meals (except for one dinner and two lunches), accommodations in new and modern hotels, bus transportation, and much more. The tour operators are on a first-name basis with many of the archivists and Jewish leaders in Lithuania.

Additional information can be found at or by sending e-mail to

Clearance Sale: Genealogical Resources in New York
One of the great books published by a Jewish Genealogical Society is Genealogical Resources in New York. It is the most comprehensive guide available to genealogical and biographical resources in the five boroughs of New York City and Albany. For each of the more than 100 repositories the book provides a description of its holdings including new acquisitions, a geographic scope of its collection, the time span covered and finding aids. New features include maps to assist researchers in coordinating visits to facilities within a particular area, wheelchair accessibility, e-mail and Internet addresses, fax and telephone numbers, and much more.

JGS is interested in cleaning out their warehouse inventory of the book. If you do not purchase it now, the society may dump the rest to end the recurring warehousing charges. You can now purchase the book for only $12, U.S. media mail postage included. It originally sold for $35. The only extras are sales tax if you live in New York State or Ohio or postage if you live outside the U.S.

You can order this directly at

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail it to the Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, 155 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ 07621. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.

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