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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 8 | May 2, 2010

This edition is going to 8,733 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.
JewishGen Has Information on 5,600 Communities
Would you believe JewishGen has information on more than 5,600 Jewish communities throughout the world? Its goal is to have 7,000 communities identified by the end of this year.

The information provided about each town includes location (latitude/longitude), a map, alternate names, a list of nearby Jewish communities, and a list of other resources that have additional information about the town.

A complete list of communities can be found at, but it is organized by province within country. It is easier to locate the site for a particular town by using the search feature at When the result is displayed, click on the JewishGen icon in the “Modern Town & Country” field to display the information about the town.

The search engine will accept any of the names for the town. For example, the major Polish city of Kraków, can be found by searching for Kraków (Polish), Krakau (German), Kroke (Yiddish), Cracow (English), Cracovie (French), Cracovia (Spanish/Italian), Krakov (Rusian, Czech, Slovakian), Krakiv (Ukrainian), Krakkó (Hungarian), Krakova (Latvian), plus other known variants: Krako, Krakoy, Krakuv.

Random U.S. Directories and Lists
A posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group identifies a site where there are a number of digitized city directories, yearbooks, censuses and other reference books. It is located at

The directories section includes city directories for random years and cities. Cities include Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York and Pittsburgh, but there are many others. Go to the site to view the complete list. Those directories I viewed are also indexed. Some of the directories are Jewish directories.

There is a sprinkling of high school and college yearbooks and alumni directories. The military records are mostly from before the 20th century. The small books collection includes an 1898 Jewish UK Business Directory.
The design and implementation of the web site is very crude. The 1946 Manhattan (New York) phone directory displays only three of the four columns in the book. The only way I found to view the fourth column was to save the image and display it with my image editing software. Searching for Mokotoffs produced no results despite the fact they appear in the directory. Searching for any name on the page where the Mokotoffs of Manhattan appear produced no results.

It is worth browsing the site even though it is difficult to navigate. It just might have something of value to add to your research.

News from
Family Tree Maker (FTM) Planned for the Mac. has announced plans to make available a Mac version of its Family Tree Maker genealogical software package later this year. Currently the most popular system in use by Mac users is Reunion. Information about FTM can be found at Information about Reunion can be found at

iPhone App. Early this year, expanded to another Apple platform with the launch of its Tree To Go application for the iPhone. From an iPhone, users can upload photos, update sources and edit trees. The Tree To Go iPhone application is available for iPhone and iPod touch free of charge through the iPhone App Store or iTunes. Additional information can be found at

Wiki Application. has announced its new Wiki. To seed this online encyclopedia, the company has included its two largest reference books: The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy and Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources. These books are considered exhaustive guides to American genealogy. I wrote the Jewish chapter for The Source. Probably because of its length, on Wiki this chapter is divided into a number of sections. It was written in 2003 and could use updating.

The beta version of the Wiki is available to the public at

Immigrant Databases on has added three U.S. immigration databases to its collection. They are “Germans to America,” “Russians to America” and “Italians to America.” These databases were originally published in book form many years ago. The databases are available at by subscription.

Each of the passenger records may include name, age, town of last residence, destination, and codes for passenger's sex, occupation, literacy, country of origin, transit and/or travel compartment, the name of the ship, the port of departure, date of arrival and the port of arrival. Most of the records are of passengers arriving at the Port of New York, although there are some records of passengers arriving at the following ports: Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia.

Germans to America. This series consists of records of 4,048,907 passengers who arrived at the United States 1850 through 1897. About 90 percent identified their country of origin or nationality as Germany or a "German" state, city, or region. In about 10 percent of the records, passengers identified their country of origin or nationality as France, Luxemburg, Switzerland, United States and other places.

Russians to America. This series consists of records of 527,394 passengers arriving in the United States 1834 through 1897 who identified their country of origin or nationality as Armenia, Finland, Galicia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Russian Poland or Ukraine.

Italians to America. This series consists of records of 845,368 passengers who arrived at the United States 1855 through 1900. About 99 percent identified their country of origin or nationality as Italy or one of the following Italian regions: Lombardy, Piedmont, Sardinia, Sicily, or Tuscany. Some records are of passengers who identified their country of origin as England, France, Germany, Spain, or United States.

Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants
One of the fascinating aspects of Ashkenazic Jewish history is its given names. According to A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names by Alexander Beider, all the thousands of these names derive from only 735 root names. I would never have thought that my mother’s Jewish name, Tserl, is a variant of Sarah.

The Dictionary is a 728-page tome that is the definitive work on the subject. One reason for its large size is that the first 300 pages are a detailed description of the origin and evolution of Ashkenazic given names. It was Dr. Beider’s doctoral thesis when he received his second doctorate from the Department of History at the Sorbonne. (His first doctorate was in applied mathematics from the Physio-Technical Institute of Moscow.)

Last year, AVOTAYNU editor Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus was struggling with the weight of the book and realized that only a portion of the book is necessary for genealogists to evaluate given names, so she suggested to Dr. Beider that a “handbook” be created as an alternative to his major work.

This is the origin of the book Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants. The Handbook consists of the indexes to the identified 15,000 given names presented in three sections: names as they appeared in the Latin alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet and Hebrew alphabet. The body of the Handbook provides a description of each of the 735 root names plus a tree-like structure of all the name variants that shows exactly how they were derived from the root name.

The book Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants is only $29.00, 232 pages and softcover. It can be ordered at Aa an example, the entry for the feminine given name Yentl can be found at

You can order A Dictionary of AshkenazicGiven Names at It includes the expanded version of the entry for Yentl plus a complete list of the 15,000 given names in the dictionary.

Family Tree University
F&W Media, the producer of Family Tree Magazine, has created an online genealogy education program called Family Tree University. It is located at The “university” provides fee-based course and webinars. Each course lasts four weeks, and students can log in any time of day or night during their course session to complete lessons and interact with instructors. To interest the largest possible audience, most of the current curriculum covers 12 general topics such as “Use Google Tools for My Ancestry Search,” “Trace My Family in Census Records” and “Search the Internet for My Family.”

Jewish Genealogical Trip to Salt Lake City
For the 18th consecutive year, veteran Jewish genealogists Gary Mokotoff and Eileen Polakoff will be offering a research trip to the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City from October 14-October 21, 2010. To date, more than 300 Jewish genealogists from the U.S., Canada, Israel, Australia, England, Austria and Venezuela have taken advantage of this program. The group size is limited to 40 people.

The program offers genealogists the opportunity to spend an entire week of intensive research at the Library under the guidance and assistance of professional genealogists who have made more than three dozen trips to Salt Lake City. Each attendee has access to trip leaders every day—except Sunday when the Library is closed—from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Library for on-site assistance and personal consultations. There is also a planned program that includes a three-hour class on day of arrival introducing the participants to the facilities and resources of the Family History Library in addition to a mid-week informal group discussion of progress and problem solving. For those new to genealogy, a beginners’ workshop on the first morning of the trip will introduce them to the wonderful world of Hamburg immigration lists, U.S. passenger arrival lists, naturalization records and census records.

Social events include a Sunday brunch for camaraderie and discussion of successes (and failures); attendance at the Sunday morning broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; and informal group dinners each night.

Additional information can be found at

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