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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 5 | February 2, 2014

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
For those watching the Super Bowl game, my apologies for sending this issue at half-time.

MyHeritage and Add Millions of “New” Records
One disadvantage of the recent sharing agreements between the giants of online genealogy sites such as, FamilySearch and MyHeritage, is that their recent announcements of adding millions of new records often is nothing more than adding data acquired from one of the other sites. This seems to be the case with the recent MyHeritage announcement of adding 160 million new records for the UK and the U.S. state of Washington County Marriages collection. The description is identical to that which exists for some time at FamilySearch. When veteran family historians see “new” information, the reaction is that they just wasted time because they already found the records on FamilySearch. Adds 900 Million Records. Based on looking at only a few countries (Argentina, Jamaica, El Salvador), the source of the records is FamilySearch, not newly created records.

The big three ought to make part of their announcements whether they acquired new records from another site, or they are of their own creation. It would help researchers who regularly look at the other sites.

You can read The MyHeritage announcement at new-records-now-live-on-myheritage/. The announcement is at See announcement at

RootsTech Conference Announces Free Online Broadcast Schedule
RootsTech announced that 15 of its popular sessions will be broadcast live and complimentary over the Internet. The live broadcasts will give worldwide those unable to attend in-person a sample of this year's conference content. Interested viewers can watch the live presentations at The conference, in its fourth year, has attracted over 10,000 registered attendees in-person, and leaders expect more than 20,000 additional viewers online. The event is from February 6–8, 2014.

The list of programs available is at

Class on "How To Create KehilaLinks Webpages"
There is still time to enroll in JewishGen’s "How to Create KehilaLinks Webpages” class which begins February 3, 2014. The course is designed for those who would like to create a KehilaLinks web page dedicated to a Jewish community/kehila/town/shtetl, but don't know how.

Susana Leistner Bloch, JewishGen vice-president and coordinator for the KehilaLinks project, notes that creating web pages is not difficult. The course will use a free, downloadable, simple-to-use web page editor that runs on both PCs and Macs. All you need to participate is some basic computer skills, a computer, and a few spare hours a week for the six-week program.

Course description and how to enroll are described in detail on the JewishGen Education page at

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this week. It is our annual issue where we include articles about how genealogy affected people’s lives as well as the usual articles that help its readers expand their knowledge of Jewish genealogy and Jewish history. Because of the dual purpose there are an unusual number of articles (21) and the issue has been expanded to 84 pages from the usual 68.

Recent issues of AVOTAYNU have discussed the concept of Collaborative Genealogy, both pros and cons. The lead article in the Winter issue was written by me, and is titled “Collaborative Genealogy vs. Conventional Genealogy: A Proposed Compromise.” DNA is one of the hot topics in the genealogical community, and this issue reflects it with three articles about DNA success stories. Be sure to read the article about the Family History Library, even if you do not plan to attend the conference this summer. It is comprehensive article written by Banai Feldstein, a Salt Lake City resident, professional genealogist and co-chair of the conference.

Subscribers should make a special effort to read the three-page review of a book about the Jews of Turkey by Harold Rhode. It is more a history of this Jewish group than a review of the book he discusses. Rhode has a PhD in Ottoman history and, in the early 1990s, served as the Turkish Desk Officer in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense. He is now a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

There is sometimes wry humor in the human interest articles we present. One excerpt is:
He said his family was one of only two Jewish families in Glasgow, (Kentucky) and one day at school the teacher was lecturing about how the Jews had killed Jesus. Then a little Jewish girl raised her hand and said, “I’m sorry, teacher, it wasn’t us; it must have been the Goodmans.”

The Table of Contents of the issue can be viewed at If you do not subscribe to AVOTAYNU, there is a special offer good for the next seven days. Subscribe to AVOTAYNU for 2014 and receive the Winter (2013) issue for free. The Spring 2014 issue will not be published until May. Go to and choose one of the two Special Offers (domestic or foreign). When checking out, add the Discount Code "5for4D" if you live in the U.S. or Canada, or the Discount Code "5for4F" for those living in other countries.

Library Archives Canada to Digitize Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files
Library Archives Canada (LAC), with the support of Public Works and Government Services Canada, will undertake the digitization of about 640,000 service files for members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) to complement the more than 620,000 attestation papers and the approximately 13,500 service files already available on LAC’s website at The files will be digitized alphabetically by CEF members’ last names. The first quarter, beginning with the letter A through D, will be closed as of March 2014 and will be available online this summer.

The project is part of a commitment to recognize the more than 600,000 men and women who were part of the CEF as soldiers, nurses and chaplains serving their country during the First World War, between 1914 and 1918. The full announcement of the new project is at

U.S. Senate Bill Asks Reconsideration of Terms of Return of Iraqi Jewish Artifacts
A bill submitted to the U.S. Senate asks the State Department to reconsider its agreement to return Jewish artifacts found in the Iraqi Intelligence Building during the invasion of Iraq. Part of the bill states that the Senate “strongly urges the Department of State to renegotiate with the Government of Iraq the provisions of the original agreement that was signed between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority in order to ensure that the Iraqi Jewish Archive be kept in a place where its long-term preservation and care can be guaranteed.”

The implication of the bill is that the material will be returned to Iraq. There is no indication of the consequences if the Iraq government signed the new agreement and did whatever is wished to do thereafter.

The complete bill can be read at

Bialystok Repatriations 1945–1950 Now Searchable
A list of 56,000 people repatriated to Bialystok from 1945–1950 is now searchable at Searches include this list and all other sources at the site by default; therefore, restrict a search to the Bialystok repatriation data only by appending {d872} to the search term. Example: Farber {d872}. The list of people is not just Jews. In fact, there seems to be few Jews, likely because most Polish Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. There were 5 persons named Kaplan and 25 named Wisniewski.

Each person on the list includes the following information: surname, given name, date of arrival, place arriving from, band (zespol), signature (sygnatura), card (karty), and comments. The comments sometimes include a certificate number (zaswiadczenia).

Index to Leeds, England, Jewish Burials Online
The JewishGen UK Special Interest Group has added searchable records of more than 2,200 burials, including approximately 2,000 photographs of headstones, in the Leeds Beth Hamedrash Hagadol cemetery. The site is at

Findmypast Releases British in India Collection has, in partnership with the British Library, today exclusively added 2.5 million records covering over 200 years of history of the British in India. These records cover the years 1698–1947. The records include:
   • Baptisms, Marriages & Burials (Catholic, Anglican & Civil registers)
   • Army officers’ marriage notifications
   • Records for other locations administered by the India office (Aden, Burma, Kuwait, St Helena)
   • Civil service records
   • Pension registers
   • Probate records & wills

The database can be searched at british-india-office-births-and-baptisms. There are 14 records for persons named Levy.

“Jewish Surnames Explained”: The Sequel
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? noted a website title “Jewish Surnames Explained” that has numerous errors. Based on feedback received from a number of Jewish genealogists, its author has now posted a new article titled “Followup: Jewish Surnames Explained” which corrects numerous errors in the original article. It can be read at

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 
 Google Custom Search engine
 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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