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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 11, Number 16 | September 2, 2010

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.
Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won’t Go Away
A New Reconciliation?
There is a sad picture in the Wednesday, September 1, issue of the Deseret News of Salt Lake City under the headline “Jewish, Mormon Leaders Issue Joint Statement.” It is a picture of Elder Todd Christofferson, a spokesman for the Mormon Church, shaking hands with Ernest Michel, vice-president emeritus of the UJA Federation of New York. The Church just ended discussions with representatives of the Jewish community to stop the posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims. The picture is sad because just about five years ago, the identical two men were pictured in the Deseret News indicating the Church had just reached an agreement to stop the posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims. May these two gentlemen be blessed with a long life, long enough to have their picture taken by the Deseret News five years from now under the banner “Jewish, Mormon Leaders Issue Joint Statement?”

The controversy has existed since 1993 when members of the Jewish genealogical community discovered that people in their family who were murdered in the Holocaust were posthumously baptized by the Mormon Church. For those readers who have been following this controversy, there are four versions available about the latest round of talks.
    • The Church’s version appeared in the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City owned by the Church. It focuses on the fact that these baptisms were unintentional and indicates a new computer system for submitting temple ordinances will minimize the number of unintentional baptisms. The article appears at
    • The Jewish version, which appeared in the Jewish Week (New York), is lengthier than the Church’s version. It states the Church agreed to “allow Jewish Holocaust victims to be the only category exempt from Church doctrine that calls for vicarious baptism for the dead, giving souls the choice to enter the Kingdom of God.” It can be found at
    • Finally, there are two versions created by the news media based on interviews with both parties. The Associated Press version is at The Salt Lake City Tribune version is at

The genesis of this controversy can be read at

1932 Palestine Directory and Handbook Now Searchable Online
Logan Kleinwaks has announced that the 1932 edition of the Palestine Directory and Handbook is now searchable online at It is a business and residential directory of more than 700 pages. It contains Hebrew and English sections, the contents of which are not identical. While both sections contain business listings for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Haifa, some businesses are only listed in one language. The Hebrew section also includes residential listings for these four cities, plus Tiberius, Safed, Afula, and "the colonies" (e.g., Petah Tikva), all of which are completely missing from the English section. There is no English residential section. A more detailed description can be found on the Israel Genealogical
Society website at

Kleinwaks stated that the National Library of Israel digitized the directory, and he was able to get a copy of the file through the efforts of the Israel Genealogical Society.

Sixth International Conference on Genetic Genealogy
Family Tree DNA will host its 6th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy on October 30–31, 2010, at the Sheraton North Houston in Houston, Texas. Each year, experts in genetics and science present the latest developments and applications at this two-day educational meeting. This year's conference will focus on the new Family Finder test which allows customers to find relatives across all ancestral lines. With over 300,000 individual records, Family Tree DNA has the largest DNA databases in genetic genealogy. The database encompasses over 95,000 unique surnames and nearly 6,000 lineage and geographic projects. The complete program and registration information for the conference is available at:

Lots of Little Things
Yearbooks Go Online. Both and have announced they digitized and indexed college and high school yearbooks and placed them online at their sites. World Vital Records has 8,000 books at Ancestry has 10,000 yearbooks at

National Museum of American Jewish History to Open in November. The National Museum of American Jewish History will open its new facilities on November 15. It is located on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. The five-story structure will offer visitors the opportunity to explore the more than 350 years of Jewish life in America through “evocative objects, telling moments, and state-of-the-art interactive media.” Additional information, including planned festivities at the opening, can be found at their site:

Who Do You Think You Are Renewed for Another Season. The American version of the family-history based television program Who Do You Think You Are? has been renewed for the Fall season. No additional particulars have been released. The show got very good ratings in its debut earlier this year; reruns in the summer were also watched by a substantial number of viewers.

Attention: Subscribers. The last issue of Nu? What’s New? was rejected by You can read the issue 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.”
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