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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 27 | June 24, 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.

Subscribe to Nu? What's New? at
Legacy Family Tree, publisher of Legacy genealogical software, has developed a large number of webinars with topics of general interest. Registration is free and the event is available at no charge for a number of days after it occurs. Thereafter it costs $9.95.

Some general topics are “Staying Safe with Social Media,” “The Genealogy Cloud: Which Online Storage Program Is Right for You?,” “Use Your Digital Camera to Copy Records,” and “A Closer Look at Google+.”

More closely related to genealogical research are “Building a Family from Circumstantial Evidence,” “Beyond the Arrival Date: Extracting More from Passenger Lists,” “The Big 4 U.S. Record Sources,” and “Researching Your German Ancestors.”

The complete list can be found at

Rebuilding a Wooden Synagogue
A great architectural tragedy of the Holocaust was the destruction of virtually every wooden synagogue in Eastern Europe. Once there were more than a thousand; today the remnants of only six exist in Lithuania.

A group of students from Israel, Poland and the U.S. are rebuilding a portion of the wooden synagogue that once existed in Gwozdziec, Poland, using photographs of the original structure as a guide. There is an excellent article about the project at Their efforts will be on permanent exhibit at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews which is scheduled to open in 2013 in Warsaw. There are a large number of photographs of the project at

Jewish Genealogy Yearbook 2012 Published
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) has just published the 15th annual edition of the Jewish Genealogy Yearbook. It can be found at The current yearbook covers 147 organizations involved in or supporting Jewish genealogy. New organizations not included in the last edition are: Documenting Maine Jewry, German Jewish Community History Council, Michiana Jewish Historical Society, Orange County (California) Jewish Genealogical Society and the Sephardic Heritage Project. The Yearbook also includes, for the first time, images of all of the Jewish Genealogy Month Posters published since the first in 1999.

A copy of the 155-page Yearbook has been provided to the Paris Conference Committee for distribution to attendees at the 32nd International IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy next month.

The Yearbook is the brainchild of Hal Bookbinder, who has edited and published all editions. Bookbinder has held many roles in Jewish genealogy including past president of IAJGS and past president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles. He is currently on the Board of Governors of JewishGen. Adds More Records, a fee-for-service organization, has added the following tombstone images to its site:
   • 4,500 images from Beth Olam Cemetery in the Ridgewood section of New York City.
   • The site now contains all tombstone images for Mt. Zion Cemetery in Los Angeles; approximately 2,000 images.
   • Additional images from Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in the Glendale section of New York City. There are now 46,000 indexed images from this location. has more 500,000 Jewish genealogy records including images of tombstones, school yearbook pages and citizen declaration documents from various locations. A number of Mokotoff family members are buried in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery; therefore, I was able to get copies of their tombstones.

Add Alabama, Indiana, Maine and North Dakota to the 1940 Census Index
Alabama, Indiana, Maine and North Dakota and now fully indexed and searchable at To limit the search to a particular state, go to the website above, and click “View All States” in the “Indexing Progress” section of the page. Then click on a particular state name. If you choose one that is not yet on the Internet, you will get a “404” error (page not found).

Searchable states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.

New Records and Indexes at FamilySearch
With so much focus on the 1940 U.S. census, one would think FamilySearch has temporarily suspended work on other projects. This could not be further from the truth. Millions of new records have been added in recent weeks from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, England, Georgia, Indonesia, Italy, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Many have potential of being valuable to persons tracing their Jewish family history.

Below highlights some of the items added. Check the complete list at

Austria, Vienna, Jewish Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1784–1911. New image collection.

Belgium, Antwerp, Police Immigration, 1840–1930. New image collection.

BillionGraves Index. One million indexed records and images.

Czech Republic, Censuses, 1843–1921. Added images to existing collection.

Czech Republic, Land Records, 1450–1889. Added images to existing collection.

Russia Tver Poll Tax Census (Revision lists), 1744–1874. New image collection.

U.S., Illinois, Probate Records, 1819–1970. Added images to existing collection.

U.S., New York, Orange County Probate Records, 1787–1938. Added images to existing collection.

U.S., New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1899–1924. Added images to existing collection.

U.S., Washington, County Marriages, 1855–2008. Added images to existing collection.

U.S., Washington, County Probate Records, 1853–1929. Added images to existing collection.

JewishGen Again Offers One-On-One Research Class
JewishGen is again offering in July its Independent Study class where Nancy Holden and students enrolled in the class will attempt to assist you on a specific research project. The only requirement is that the subject be about the United States or Pale of Settlement (Latvia to Southern Russia). The session will include a Forum as well as one-on-one consultations via the Internet.

Information about the course as well as others offered by JewishGen can be found at Its official title is “Independent Study - Beyond the Basics.” Cost is $150.

Order DNA Testing Through JewishGen
If you are contemplating using Family Tree DNA for testing, order it through JewishGen and get a discount. JewishGen will also get credit for the sale.

The prices are:
Y-DNA Universal Male Test. Males can test their Y-DNA to determine the origin of their paternal line. Note that the Y-DNA test strictly checks the paternal line, with no influence from any females along that line. Normally $169, now $139.00.

mtDNA Universal Female Test. Both males and females can test their mtDNA to determine the origin of their maternal line. Note that the mtDNA strictly checks the maternal line, with no influence from any males along that line. Men and women both receive their mtDNA from their mother. Normally $159, now $139.

Family Finder for males and females. The Family Finder Test helps you find family across all your lines, according to the company up to 6 generations back. Normally $289, now $219.

Place your order through a special portal:

Books for Jewish Cemetery Research
Some years ago I was attending a gathering of my wife’s family and was discussing genealogy with the aged patriarch of the family. “Uncle Abe,” I said, “Isn’t it wonderful that Roni Liebowitz is tracing the Auerbach family history?” He thought for a moment and replied, “Yes, but she is a bit mishugah (crazy).”

“Why do you think she is mishugah?” I queried. Uncle Abe answered “Because she takes pictures of tombstones.”

We family historians know the importance of tombstones and why we take pictures of them. However, Jewish tombstones can be a challenge for the beginning genealogist or those who cannot read the Hebrew inscriptions on them. Avotaynu offers two books to assist people in this aspect of family history research; each with a different approach.

A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery is a basic book that focuses on how to read the inscriptions on Jewish tombstones. It proves a step by step description of the various Hebrew components of a tombstone giving a translation of the Hebrew words. It is a soft-cover book that, as its name implies, you can bring to a cemetery and use on site to do cemetery research.

 A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries goes beyond the contents of the Field Guide. In addition to a comprehensive discussion of how to read the inscriptions on Jewish tombstones, it goes into greater detail about the artwork that appears on tombstones identifying and describing more than 25 symbols. There is a section describing famous Jewish cemeteries and locations of major concentration camps. Another chapter identifies the burial locations of 260 famous Jews. The final chapter focuses on how to preserve cemeteries and tombstones.

Each book satisfies a different need. The Field Guide is a lower cost ($21.00) work that focuses on reading tombstones with secondary information. The Practical Guide is a more expensive (39.00), more comprehensive book on Jewish cemeteries and burial customs.

Additional information as well as how to order A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery can be found at It includes a sample chapter and the Table of Contents. Additional and ordering information about A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries can be found at It includes the Table of Contents, sample chapter and a review of the book that appeared in AVOTAYNU.

Compare the two and select the book that would best satisfy your needs.

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Pages of Testimony (online).”

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
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2012, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To change an e-mail address, send a request to

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 155 N. Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621

Telephone (U.S.) : 201-387-7200