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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 1 | January 3, 2010

This edition is going to 8,553 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.
Happy New Year!

Ancestral File To Be Used for Mormon Rituals?
Since 1978, the Mormon Church has been encouraging genealogists, Mormon and otherwise, to contribute to Ancestral File, a database of more than 35 million people on the family trees of these genealogists. I contributed the Mokotow family tree in the 1980s and since then have confirmed, from time to time, that no Mormon rites have been performed on these individuals.

It appears the Church has had a change of heart and may be planning to posthumously baptize people whose names have been contributed by genealogists to Ancestral File. The New FamilySearch database includes all these names, which was expected. What was not expected is that the religious ordinance section of New FamilySearch shows that members of the Mokotow family have a status of “Ready.” It was confirmed that Jewish names in Ancestral File on other family trees also have a status of Ready.

Meanwhile Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch, a Mormon, received publicity in December due to his creation of a song “Eight Days of Hanukkah.” You can hear it at This act had a significant backlash from the Jewish community. Typical was the comment, “If Senator Orrin Hatch loves Jews so much, he should intervene on their behalf to halt the wrongful posthumous baptism of Jewish dead (including Holocaust victims). It continues, despite repeated denials by the disingenuous Mormon leadership.”

January 15 a Special Date for Annual Conference
January 15 is the last day you can submit a proposal to give a presentation at the 30th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. It is also the date planners hope to open registration for the conference which will be held in Los Angeles from July 11–16, 2010. Its website is at

One of the first-day highlights will be the Market Square Fair where regional special interest groups, Jewish non-profits, craft guilds, cadastral map displays and other “wares” related to Jewish genealogical and historical research will be represented. If you are the leader of such a group and have not yet signed up for a “pushcart” at the Fair contact:

One speaker, Agnieszka Chraboloska, sociologist and program director of The Forum for Dialogue Among Nations, a non-profit Polish organization, will speak about her organization and its mission to foster Polish-Jewish dialogue, eradicate anti-Semitism and teach tolerance through education. The Forum sponsors a variety of activities, including twice-yearly trips where Jewish leaders from the U.S. are invited to tour Poland and engage in discussions with the local Polish community. Polish students also are brought to the U.S. Recently started is a "School of Dialogue" program, which brings trained teachers into public schools located in towns where there used to be a Jewish presence to educate the community about its vanished Jewish heritage. The organization’s website is at

Brian C. Lenius, co-founder of the East European Genealogical Society, professional genealogist, map expert, and author of “The Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia” will lecture on “The Lviv Archive Research Experience,” as well as cadastral maps and landowner records found in Ukrainian and Polish archives. He will also staff a table at the Market Square Fair with examples of different types of property maps and records from the Austrian Empire.

To keep informed about conference developments, subscribe to its newsletter at

New Website on Jewish Galicia and Bukovina 
There is a new website on the Jewish history in Galicia and Bukovina at It is sponsored by the Leonid Nevzlin Research Center for Russian and East European Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The site was launched just six months ago and currently concentrates on the Stanislawow (Ivano-Frankivsk) region. The site includes documentation of Jewish cemeteries, original texts and English translations of archival documents and newspaper articles, interviews with former Jewish residents and with local inhabitants, photographs of Jewish sites in the region, etc. To date there are nearly 3,000 photographs and information about 1,700 Jews who lived in the area. The site is constantly growing, For instance, the complete documentation of the Jewish cemetery in Solotvyn (Solotwina) is being uploaded, about 2,000 tombstones.

I visited the site. It is very attractive but its newness shows. There are a number of technical problems. For example, when using the Community Index, requesting all towns starting with a specific letter of the alphabet always shows the first ten towns starting with Bolshivtsi. Time will clean up the problems.

Worth Reading: “Why Isn’t It Free?”
Dick Eastman writes a popular genealogy column similar to Nu? What’s New? called Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. In a recent edition, he discusses the complaint by many genealogists that they shouldn’t have to pay for accessing records—“Why Isn’t It Free?” You can find it at In the column he justifies why record access is not always free. It is worth reading.

You can subscribe to his column, which is partially free, at that site. Some of the articles are available to all subscribers; others are available only to paid subscribers. The paid edition, called the Plus Edition, costs $19.95 per year.

Jewish Genealogical Yearbook
A useful resource for locating information about organizations involved in Jewish genealogy is the Jewish Genealogical Yearbook published annually by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. The brainchild of Hal Bookbinder, a past president of IAJGS, it has been published annually since 1998. It provides information about 131 organizations including Jewish genealogical societies, Jewish historical societies, special interest groups and research groups, Jewish genealogical projects and other organizations supporting Jewish genealogy.

Each entry has, where applicable, the name of the organization or project; contact information such as postal address, e-mail address and telephone number; web site; names of leaders; name of newsletter; and accomplishments of the previous year. The Yearbook is available for viewing and downloading at

Anglo-Jewish Sites
If you family has deep English roots, a site, has an index to more that 16,000 birth, circumcision, marriage and burial records, from London’s synagogues, 1785–1865.

The database includes:
   Great Synagogue, London marriages 1791–1859
   Great Synagogue, London births 1791–1795 & 1801-1813
   Great Synagogue, London Burials 1774–1810
   Hambro Synagogue, London marriages 1797–1837
   New Synagogue, London marriages 1791–1823 & 1837–1842
   New Synagogue London ketubot (marriage contracts)
   New Synagogue, London births 1771–1864
   Western Synagogue marriages
   Circumcision records 1794–1815
   Circumcision Register of Myer Solomons
   Circumcision Register of Asher Ash
   Circumcision Records of Rabbi Ash of Dover 1765–1818
   Circumcision Register Edinburgh (Joshua ben Solomon) 1832–1838
   Circumcsions at the Western Synagogue

Another Anglo-Jewish database of more than 10,000 Jewish burials can be found at

Hamilton County (Ohio) Documents Online
If your family comes from the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, the probate court of Hamilton County has placed online more than one million Hamilton County (Ohio) documents. Included are birth, marriage, death, naturalization and other records. The documents are located at You can read more about the project at

Hadassah Magazine Publishes Interesting Story About IIJG
The online version of Hadassah Magazine has published an interesting report about the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy at current.asp&header=magazine&size=140. It describes how the Institute was founded, its accomplishments and future plans. The article is titled "Planting a Forest of Family Trees."

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.

Nu? What's New? is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2010, 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