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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 42 | October 23, 2011

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.

Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at
Preview of Paris Conference
I think the Paris conference is going to be an unusually good one. For one reason, it will attract speakers from Europe and Israel who find it an ordeal to cross the pond and lecture in North America. It also gives attendees the opportunity to continue on to their ancestral countries for research and walking in the footsteps of their ancestors.

The conference already has a website at Its Program link shows one planned lecture, “New resources on Jewish genealogy in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia” by Aleksandrs Feigmanis, AVOTAYNU Contributing Editor for Latvia. It is scheduled for July 16, 2012, at 4:00, so you “Latvaks” mark your calendar. (The program item may just be there to test the system.)

The conference hotel is the Marriott Paris Rive Gauche (Left Bank) Hotel. The rate for the conference is €119 per night which includes a French breakfast (what we Americans call a Continental breakfast). You can book your room from the conference site. The conference is from July 15–18, 2012, and the rate applies to a number of days before and after the conference.

The website shows that registration is now open with discount prices for registering by February 29, 2012 (you get an extra day because it is a leap year). Advanced registration is €185 for one person and €320 for couples. At today’s rates one euro is $1.34 (U.S. or Canadian), ₤.87 or AU$1.33. So, for those who like to be first in line, visit the site and register.

Tribute to the Jews of Przedecz, Poland
More and more, I see evidence of today’s Polish citizens—usually the younger, under 50, ones—preparing memorials to the Jewish citizens who once lived among them. Undoubtedly the most productive is Tomasz Wisniewski of Bialystok who has published books about the Jews of his area and now has a website,, which has extensive information and photos of Polish Jews. Tomy has made numerous short videos that he placed on YouTube at

About two years ago, I was contacted by Halina Zie(n)cik whose parents were from Przedecz, Poland. She wanted to create a memorial to the Jews of that town who were murdered in the Holocaust. There would be a presentation to the school students of Przedecz about the Jews of the town, who once were the neighbors of their grandparents and great-grandparents. She was using the Przedecz yizkor book as a source. but she could not read Hebrew/Yiddish. I helped her identify people in the pictures. I also pointed her to the JewishGen Family Finder where she was able to contact Jewish genealogists whose ancestry was Przedecz. They too helped her in her research.

Halina has just informed me that she gave her presentation to the students and teachers. In addition, she created a film, Ku pamieci Zydom miasteczka Przedecz (In memory of the Jews of Przedecz) that can be seen at Many of the pictures are from the Przedecz yizkor book. There were three pictures of members of the Mokotow family, all of whom were murdered in the Holocaust.

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
The editorial portion of the Fall issue of AVOTAYNU is complete. The production effort would have been done in two weeks except my annual trip to Salt Lake City will delay production. We anticipate the issue will go to the printer about November 15.

There are potentially 17 articles for the issue in addition to the regular columns (Book reviews, From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask the Experts and From Our Mailbox). Likely some will be held for the Winter issue.

One article I found particularly outstanding poses the question of whether genealogy can ever be an academic discipline. The author establishes eight criteria to be answered, and then goes through each of them to determine if genealogy meets the requirements. If it does not, he explains how the goal can be achieved.

Another article is taken from a lecture given at the annual conference by a licensed detective which describes a number of useful resources used by profession detectives that are applicable to family history research.

I was well aware that in the past, many U.S. states took a decennial census in years ending with “5,” but I never heard of the 1917 Military Census of New York and Connecticut. They were censuses taken in addition to the federal World War I draft registration. The New York one also included women!

The initial AVOTAYNU article to anticipate the Paris conference in 2012 is about “Jewish Genealogical Resources in France” but the article contains 10–15 Internet sites with searchable databases that have information about French records.

Once the Fall issue is in page format, the front page, which lists all the articles in the issue, will be published in Nu? What’s New?

If you do not subscribe to AVOTAYNU, you can do so at

Wanted: Human Interest Stories for Winter Issue
Now that the editorial aspect of the Fall issue is completed, we are looking toward the Winter issue. For the past 26 years, AVOTAYNU has devoted a portion of each Winter issue to genealogy human interest stories. Stories are typically about how genealogy affected people’s lives, whether it be the researcher or the people they are researching. Deadline for submission is December 1, 2010. If you have an interesting story to tell, submit it by e-mail to Wherever possible, illustrations should accompany the article. Avotaynu writing style rules can be found at In 2008, Avotaynu published 72 of some of the best human interest stories in a book: Every Family Has a Story. Information about the book can be found at

More Avotaynu Business
Last Issue of Nu? What’s New?. There is evidence that certain ISPs treated the last issue of Nu? What’s New? as spam even though I check each issue with two spam checking systems. It is the issue whose initial headling was “More on Using New FamilySearch Locality Catalog.” A copy of the issue can be found at

Avotaynu Offices Closed. Avotaynu offices are closed until Monday, November 7. I am on my annual trip to the Mormon Family History Library with a group of Jewish genealogists. This is Eileen Polakoff and my 19th year of assisting people with their research. All orders place through October 21 have been shipped.

The Holocaust in Slovakia. All initial orders of The Holocaust in Slovakia have been shipped. This is a new offering of Avotaynu. Information about the book can be found 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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