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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 1 | January 5, 2013

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
Central Archives Polish Holdings Now Online
In 2004, Avotaynu Foundation published Polish Resources at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People which is an inventory of all the Polish holdings at this Jerusalem-based institution. Now CAHJP’s new director, Yochai Ben-Ghedalia, has announced that this complete inventory updated through 2012 is available at their website as two PDF files: (Towns A-L) and (Town M-Z). “Poland” is defined as inter-war Poland: therefore, the inventory includes towns then in Poland, now in Belarus and Ukraine. An example is L’viv (catalogued under the Polish name Lwow). A complete list of towns present in the 2004 book is at Read the first 21 pages of introductory material of the PDF files for an understanding of the structure of each entry. It exists in both files.

Algerian collection. The highly structured URL caused me to browse those URLs ending in 1001, 1002, 1003, etc. At, I found a list of their Algerian collection. It is possible this is a work-in-progress and is not completely accurate.

Top 100 Genealogy Sites
GenealogyInTime magazine has published its top 100 genealogy sites for 2012. The top 10 are unchanged from the 2011 list, but there was some small shuffling of who ranked above whom. The top 10 are:

3. Find a Grave
4. FamilySearch
5. Geni
8. GeneaNet

Family Tree DNA ranked 17, JewishGen 34 and the Stephen P. Morse 56. Included was the Jewish Telegraph Agency News Archives, which is not a genealogy site and was ranked 32.

The complete results can be found at

The ranking is based on Internet traffic:
  • Number of visitors to a website
  • Number of page views per visitor to the website
  • Amount of time spent at a website, an Internet traffic racking service was used to acquire the information.

Cyndi’s List Files Lawsuit
Cyndi’s List and its creator Cyndi Ingle Howells has filed suit against and its owner Barry J Ewell for copyright and intellectual property infringement. As reported in the November 4, 2012, issue of Nu? What’s New? Howells claims Mygenshare contains a copy of Cyndi’s List, which is a collection of Internet sites of value to genealogists. It currently identifies more than 325,000 sites divided into 192 categories. The Jewish category has 712 links divided into 26 subcategories.

In 1991, U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that you cannot copyright facts, and Cyndi’s List, the defendant can argue, is nothing more than a bunch of facts and, therefore, not protected by copyright law which protects original works. Prior to the Court decision, facts could be copyrighted if they were gathered by the “sweat of your brow,” that is, if the facts were very difficult to accumulate. This would be true of Cyndi’s List.

Since the decision, Federal courts have backed off somewhat on the broad ruling. Read the article at My opinion is that based on the “Implications” section of this article, the person violated copyright law.

Cyndi’s List is located at

JewishGen Necrology Database Now Has More Than 240,000 Entries
The JewishGen Necrology Database located at now has more than 240,000 entries extracted from 265 different yizkor (Holocaust memorial) books. The project is part of an overall JewishGen Yizkor Book Project which seeks to identify, translate and index the names that exist in the more than 1,000 yizkor books published to date.

After World War II, many survivors of the Holocaust published books that memorialized the destroyed Jewish communities of Europe. Called yizkor books (“yizkor” means “memorial” or “remembrance” in Hebrew), they commemorate the victims as well as the Jewish communities.

Although each yizkor book was written independently, they share a basic common structure. The first section describes the history of the Jewish community of the town from its inception—sometimes hundreds of years ago—to the events of the Holocaust. This history invariably describes the destruction of all Jewish religious property (synagogues, cemeteries, etc.) and the immediate murder or deportation to labor or extermination camps of the Jewish population. For the historian, this overview provides valuable material about the Jewish communal life of the town. For researchers who want to identify relatives who once lived in the town, pictures of religious, social and welfare organizations may offer clues. The articles and captions associated with the pictures often identify the members.

The next section consists of personal remembrances of survivors about their individual families. They contain a wealth of information about family members, including names, relationships, and sometimes ages or birth dates. Where survivors knew the fate of family members, this may also be included.

The next section of a yizkor book is devoted to describing families with no survivors. These accounts were contributed by neighbors or friends who had known the family. Each article is a brief one- or two-paragraph description headed by the names of the father and mother, as well as the names of the children. In cases where the name of a parent could not be remembered, it is left blank. If the children's names were not remembered, the notation might be “three children” or “two sons and a daughter.”

The next section usually is a necrology—a list of all the victims from the town. It is this necrology that is extracted to form the JewishGen Necrology Database. A second project, Yizkor Book Master Name Index, identifies persons mentioned in the translated portions of the yizkor books on the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project website which is located at

International Tracing Service Starts 2013 With New Director and Head Archivist
International Tracing Service located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, starts 2013 with a new director and head archivist. Professor Rebecca Boehling, the new ITS director, indicated recently that she intends to promote research more intensely in the ITS archives.“We want to make our archives even more accessible to the academic community. I would like to publicize the treasures contained here in the archives and the plethora of research opportunities. The history of the victims of Nazi persecution is an international story that still affects many people throughout the world today,” she said. Prof. Boehling was previously Director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The new Head Archivist is Dr. Helge Kleifeld, whose most recent position was manager of the archives at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich.

International Tracing Service contains 26,000 meters of documentation about individuals who were persecuted by the Nazis. Consequently, it is the primary resource for information about Holocaust victims and survivors. Information about the institution can be found at

New Society: Triangle Jewish Genealogical Society
A new Jewish genealogical society has formed in the Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham area of North Carolina. Called the Triangle Jewish Genealogical Society it already boasts 39 members and a website located at The society gets its name from the fact that the three-city area is known as the Research Triangle because of three major universities in the area.

Index to Boston Jewish Marriages/Deaths Now Has More Than 50,000 Entries
An index to JewishGen’s Boston marriage and deaths as taken from the (Boston) Jewish Advocate now extends from 1905–2012. There are more than 50,000 entries. It is all part of the JewishGen USA Database accessible at

The Jewish Advocate itself has an archives of its past articles at It is possible to get a copy of the article for a nominal fee ($3.95). There are lower costs for copies of more than one article or if you are a subscriber to the newspaper.

2012 Conference Family Finder Now Online
Each year, organizers of the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy publish a “Family Finder” consisting of the ancestral surnames and towns being researched by conference attendees. The Cercle de Généalogie Juive, sponsor of the 2012 conference, has placed its Family Finder online, but apparently it is accessible only to those who participated in the conference.

To access the Family Finder go to, click on “Login” to log into the website with your email address and password. This directs you to a summary page where you can search by surname, town or registrant name. Errors can be corrected by going to “My Account,” then “View my forms” and finally “Edit.”

Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
 All back issues of our journal AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages 
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 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

Number of articles in Anthology by topic:

Algeria 8
Argentina 21
Australia 36
Austria 17
Austro-Hungary 7**
Belarus* 26
Belgium 24
Bermuda 1
Book Reviews 289
Brazil 25
Bulgaria 5
Burma 1
Canada 94
Caribbean 9
Cuba 3

China 10

Computers 21
Conferences 52
Costa Rica 1
Croatia 3
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 33
Denmark 2
DNA 25
East Europe– Gen’l
Egypt 11
England 125
Estonia* 5
Europe-General 25
Finland 1

France 102
Galicia 20
General 233
Germany 173
Gibraltar 1
Greece 12
Holland 83
Holocaust 177
Hungary 46
India 6
Iraq 3
Iran 5
Ireland 2
Israel 125
Italy 14 
Latvia* 26

LDS 29
Libya 1
Lithuania* 71
Methodology 84
Moldova* 5
Morocco 18
New Zealand 13
North Africa 2
Poland 118
Portugal 21
Rabbinic 57
Romania 33
Russia 46** 
Scotland 27
Sephardic 42
Serbia 2

Slovakia 1
South Africa 22
South America 1
Spain 13
Sudan 1
Sweden 5
Switzerland 27
Syria 3
Tunisia 3
Turkey 22
Ukraine* 57
United States   227
USSR 92**
Venezuela 1
Zimbabwe 1

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