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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 8 | February19, 2012
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.

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Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won’t Go Away
Wiesenthal and Wiesel Names in Mormon Records Receive Worldwide Publicity
The posthumous baptism of Simon Wiesenthal’s parents and the inclusion of Elie Wiesel in the Mormon religious database went viral last week with CNN, Reuters and the Associated Press reporting the controversy. Many news organizations gave their own slant to the story. The Mormon Church apologized for the Wiesenthal baptisms. A Church spokesman claimed the Wiesel records were part of a genealogical database not their religious database which is untrue. Wiesel, his father and maternal grandfather were part of the religious database which is only accessible through an individual password supplied by the Church. It can be plainly seen at that LDS ordinances were planned for the Wiesel family.

There is a magnificent cartoon done by the Salt Lake City Tribune cartoonist, Pat Bagley, at

Will these recent events have any long-term effect? Hopefully the Mormon Elders will rethink the idea that it is their First Amendment right to involve other people’s families in their religion. Hopefully, these overzealous Mormons, who submit names for baptism in violation of Church rules, will realize they will get caught and have their privilege to submit names revoked by the Church. and FamilyTreeDNA Become Partners and FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) have partnered to provide MyHeritage members lower cost DNA testing than what is available at the FTDNA site. For example, the 37-marker Y-chromosome DNA test offered by FamilyTreeDNA for $169.00 is available at the MyHeritage site for $149.00. There is no cost for “membership” in MyHeritage, so it appears that one should always purchase FTDNA kits through MyHeritage. The only consideration is that you are giving MyHeritage your e-mail and postal addresses. You can always opt-out of mailing received from the firm and it is unlikely they will use the postal addresses for mailings given the high cost of postage these days. There are even greater discounts for paid subscribers: 10% for Premium subscribers and 15% for Premium Plus members. PremiumPlus members get the Y 37-marker lest for only $126.65.

Order kits at

Here are some comparison prices:  
Test MyHeritage FTDNA
 Y 12-marker $99 
 Y 37-marker 149  169 
 Y 67-marker 239  268 
 mtDNA 99 
 mtDNA Plus 159  159 
 mtDNA Full Seq 289 299 
 Family Finder 289 289 
* Not usually offered by FTDNA

Book Memorializes 18,000 Children of the Dutch Holocaust
In Memoriam is a book of more than one thousand pages that identifies 17,964 Jewish and gypsy children murdered in the Holocaust. It shows each child's name, date of birth and address, death date and place. There are sometimes pictures of the children. Cost is €99.95. The book can be purchased at

An exhibit based on the book is being held at Stadsarchief Amsterdam from February 10-May 20. Information can be found at

Family History Standards Organization Formed
An international organization has been formed to develop standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information. The standards will focus on the problem that today’s technology platforms, genealogy products or services cannot necessarily interact with each other.

This is not a newly recognized problem. Nearly 30 years ago, with the creation of genealogy software systems, it was realized that data files from one system could not be used by another system. The result was the creation of GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). The LDS Church was the 800-pound gorilla of that time when it came to genealogical software, and all developers got in line and supported the concept. A committee was formed to improve GEDCOM and new versions appeared in ensuing years. Today we benefit from GEDCOM in our ability to share our information with others.

The new group is called Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO), and it already has a website at Additional information can be found at the site.

Pre- Post-Conference Tours Defined
Joubert Travel Agency posted eight tours customized to fit the needs of people planning to attend the 32nd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. They are to Baltic Countries, Belarus, Normandy, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine. Some have specific dates. There are French descriptions of the tours. Only Baltic States, Normandy and Ukraine currently have English versions. Looking at the French versions is sufficient for an overview of a tour.

The conference is being held at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel in Paris from July 15–18, 2012. Information about the conference is at Information about the tours is at

Rabbi Shmuel Gorr Archive Catalogued
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center has announced that the cataloguing of the Rabbi Shmuel Gorr Genealogical Papers has been completed. Rabbi Gorr (1931–1988) was a pioneer of contemporary Jewish genealogical research, working as a professional genealogist in Jerusalem for more than a quarter century until his death. He bequeathed his papers to the National Library of Israel (at that time called the Hebrew University and National Library).

Search the collection by going to the Library’s search engine at Select Search Option “keywords anywhere” and search for the keyword “Gorr” followed by additional keywords.

Rabbi Gorr was indirectly responsible for the creation of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. In 1985, I collaborated with him to index the names of some 28,000 persons who legally changed their names while living in Palestine from 1921 to 1948: most were Jews with Germanic or Slavic surnames. It was important to his research, because clients were trying to locate relatives who immigrated to Eretz Israel. Many had changed their European names to Hebrew-like names. When I examined the European names, I found there frequently were spelling variants of the same basic surname and the list should be soundexed. Using the conventional American system, many Eastern European Jewish names which sound the same did not soundex the same. The most prevalent were names spelled interchangeably with the letter w or v, for example, the names Moskowitz and Moskovitz. The American system soundexed them differently. This started my efforts to create a new system that could support German/Slavic names as well as names of other groups.

Royal Naval Seamen (1853–1923) Online
The UK National Archives has placed online an index to more than 600,000 service records for most persons who joined the Royal Navy between 1853 and 1923. The information comes from the Registers of Seamen's Services and the Continuous Service engagement books. These documents show the person’s place of birth, physical appearance, occupation and which ship(s) they served on. Details of service are recorded up to 1928. A copy of the actual record can be purchased for £3.50. Information is available at

Searching JewishGen Databases: An Interesting Variant
Avotaynu co-owner Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus came up with an interesting variant to searching many of the databases on JewishGen. If you cannot find a certain record and conclude that perhaps the surname was misspelled in such a manner that soundexing did not uncover the record, then search by given names. For example, if looking for a birth record, search for the given names of the parents using the soundex option. This approach may not work because there are often many variants of given names that are not phonetically identical. Examples: Yakov and Yankiel, Yosef and Yossel, Sara and Serla. But then, success in genealogical research is often accomplished by just trying unlikely solutions.

Webinar of Latin American Resources
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain will hold a webinar on "Genealogical Resources in Latin America" on February 23 at 7pm GMT. The lecturer is Daniel Horowitz of Space is limited.

Reserve a seat at The webinar will cover available genealogical resources in Latin America (Jewish or not) including institutions, temples, burial societies, cemeteries, citizenship records, immigration and computer databases that can be used online. Learn what to look for and how to ask for information by regular mail in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

Have You Signed the Petition?
Just a gentle reminder asking whether you signed the petition to save the Social Security Death Index? The deadline is March 8. The procedure is at

Meanwhile, Jan Meisels Allen, chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, has sent an excellent Statement for the Record to the House Ways and Means Committee explaining the importance of open access to the SSDI for many users, not only the genealogical community. The statement can be found at The cover letter to the chairman of the committee can be found at Letter to Subcommittee.pdf.

It is important that the genealogical community meet the goal to have 25,000 people sign the petition. If it is not met, if demonstrates to lawmakers that genealogists do not care about whether they have access to birth, marriage and death records and other records vital to our research. About 3,700 people have signed the petition to date.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Below are the only additions of images and/or indexes to FamilySearch that I have concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. The complete list can be found at This site provides links directly to the collection described.

Some of the additions include:
Germany, Saxony, Dresden, Citizen's Documents and Business Licenses, 1820–1962 New image collection.
Netherlands, Army Service Records, 1807–1929 New image collection.
U.S., California, Northern U.S. District Court Naturalization Index, 1852–1989 Added images to existing collection.
U.S., Colorado, Statewide Marriage Index, 1900–1939 New image collection.

New indexes courtesy of
U.S., Florida, Death Index, 1877–1998
U.S., Wisconsin, Death Index, 1820–1907
U.S., Wisconsin, Marriage Index, 1973–1997

Discount Offers by Commercial Genealogy Companies is providing free access to the U.S. 1930 census through February 20. is offering a discount on its annual membership price of $90. If you register at the cost is only $69.95 and the annual subscription will be extended for an additional two months.

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Additional Names.”

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 at the site 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
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