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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 9 | May 16, 2010

This edition is going to 8,631 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.
Lots of little items in this issue. Users Missing Issues of “Nu? What’s New?”
If you subscribe to Nu? What’s New? using as an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you did not receive the last two issues of this e-zine. The ISP blocked them for some unknown reason. Back issues of all editions can be found at The problem should be solved now. For the general readership, this site includes a search engine that will help locate any topic covered in a previous issue since Nu? What’s New? was first published in February 2000.

Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Spring issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer next week. As is typical of most issues, there is information about new technologies, contemporary topics and the past. You can view the Table of Contents for the issue at If you are not already a subscriber to AVOTAYNU, you can subscribe at

Just as we are starting to understand the science of DNA as it applies to genealogy, an article in the Spring issue discusses a new potential resource: the science of geography with an introduction to the concept of geospatial genealogy. According to the authors “Geospatial genealogy refers to the linking of traditional genealogical records and databases with the mapping, analysis, and visualization capabilities of online mapping programs such as Google Earth and the more powerful capabilities of geographic information systems (GIS).” As an example, what can be learned by overlaying a 19th-century cadastral map of you ancestral town with the aerial view gotten from Google Earth?

My contribution to the Spring issue is a description of the resources I use to locate people living in the United States. For the past few years I have been working with the Hidden Children Foundation helping child survivors of the Holocaust locate relatives. This often points to people living in the United States and in the article I describe the Internet sites used to locate these people.

AVOTAYNU editor Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus provides an excellent description of the latest DNA test by FamilyTree DNA which permits testing across gender boundaries and can even determine how closely related two individuals are.

It may not help you specifically in your personal research, but I have found previous AVOTAYNU articles about “The Jews of...” always interesting as general background about Jewish history. This issue describes the history of the Yannionite Jews—the Jews of Ioannina, Greece.

Be sure to read all of the Contributing Editors columns (a total of nine sections). Some of the editors have written about matters outside their geographical area. For example, Aleksandrs Feigmanis, the Contributing Editor for Latvia, writes about his recent trip to Lodz, Poland.

A letter to the editor (From Our Mailbox) attempts to explain why in many families, our ancestors who were born in czarist Russia erroneous celebrated their birthdays one month from their actual date of birth.

All told, there are 14 articles in the issue plus the usual columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask the Experts, Book Reviews and From Our Mailbox.

Another List of Directories
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? noted a site that had a number of digitized directories. A Nu? subscriber notes there is a more comprehensive list of directories at It includes directories from Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. It actually is a directory of directories, that is, a site that links to directories at various sites on the Internet. Has Free Access to Newspaper Archives Through May is offering free access to its historical newspapers collection through the end of May. The collection can be found at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 300 Million New Names
More than 300 million new names from 150 collections have been added or enhanced at, the genealogy site of the Mormon Church. Volunteers indexed more than 120 million records to extract these names from original source documents. The records can be found at FamilySearch’s pilot site at A complete list of all the newly added or improved collections can be found at

Immigrants to American Series Also at NARA Site
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? noted that three immigrant databases were available at, a fee-for-service site. They are “Germans to America,” “Russians to America” and “Italians to America.” A Nu? subscriber has indicated that these databases are also available, at no charge, at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration site at The best way to search the NARA site is through the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site at A link to each of the three databases can be found in the “Other Ports of Immigration” section.

Site Identifies New York City Buildings
Would you like a more graphic representation of the building where your ancestors lived in New York City? The City government has an Internet site where you key in a specific address and the result is a map of the area showing an outline of every building. After locating a building, click “Show Additional Information” and data will be provided such as lot frontage, depth and area; year built; gross floor area; number of residential units; and whether it has been designated as a Landmark building. The site is located at

The Unbroken Chain at 40% Discount
One of the landmark works of Jewish genealogy is The Unbroken Chain by Neil Rosenstein. It traces the descendants of Rabbi Meir Katzenelnbogen of Padua through 16 generations to the present. More than 25,000 people are identified as descendants including Karl Marx and Helena Rubenstein. Included are many members of the leading Hassidic dynasties: Levi Isaac of Berdichev, Halberstam, Rabinowitz, Horowitz, Rokeach, Shapiro, Spira, Teitelbaum, Twersky, etc.

First published in 1976, it was updated in 1990 with enough information that it required two volumes and 1244 pages. The retail price is $80.00. Avotaynu is now offering it at only $48.00 plus shipping and handling—a 40% discount. Place orders at Other works by Rosenstein available through Avotaynu are shown on the page.

The Story of a Calque
Peter Cullman, author of History of the Jewish Community of Schneidemühl: 1641 to the Holocaust, discovered an interesting example of a calque. When it pertains to names, a calque is a name in one language that is copied from another language by translating directly from one language to another.

Cullman was searching the Shoah Victims Names Database at for a person whose maiden name was Damm. He did find a Page of Testimony submitted by an Israeli, but the relative indicated her maiden name was Blut, German for “blood.” This puzzled Cullman until he recalled part of the Passover Seder included naming the 10 plagues. One of the plagues is “dam,” Hebrew for “blood.” The person who had filled out the Page knew correctly that the relative's name was Damm, but Cullman conjectured “perhaps having lived in Israel for a long time, simply translated Damm into Hebrew and from there into the German Blut.”

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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