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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 23 | June 15, 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
Happy Father’s Day!
Happy Father’s Day to all who celebrate the day. Yesterday (Saturday) was Flag Day for Americans. Finally, Happy Birthday to my grandson Jackson Mokotoff, sole heir to the Mokotoff surname in my branch of the Mokotow family.

Conference Planners Announce “Live!” Schedule
If you cannot attend the annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Salt Lake City this summer, you will be able to register to watch selected lectures on your home computer using the “LIVE!” option the conference planners have developed. The complete program for this variant of the conference can be found at Type “LIVE!” into the Session Code field under “Search Options.”

Cost to view the more than 60 sessions being broadcast LIVE! is $149. The lectures can be viewed live or for up to three months after the conference. If you plan to attend the conference but still would like to access these webcasts after the conference, you can register for LIVE! also for $99. Register at

Bennett Greenspan Gives Talk On Future of Genetic Genealogy
Bennett Greenspan, president of Family Tree DNA, gave a lecture about “The Future of Genetic Genealogy” at the recently held Southern California Genealogy Society conference. SCGS has placed his talk on the Internet at future-of-genetic-genealogy. Among the items covered are his views on where DNA testing is going and some of the social issues such as privacy.

Family Tree DNA Now Has Processed More Than 1 Million DNA Test Kits
Family Tree DNA has announced that it has now processed more than 1 million DNA test kit results for genealogy and anthropology purposes. This historic amount includes Family Tree DNA’s tests as well the processing of public participation samples for National Geographic’s Genographic Project. The company is the Genographic Project’s genetic testing partner. Family Tree DNA offers a wide variety of DNA tests. Visit their website at for further information.

Family Tree DNA Has Father’s Day Discounts
Family Tree DNA is having two of its products discounted as a “Father’s Day Sale.” Until June 17, the Family Finder product is $79 (normally $99) and the Big Y product is $595 instead of $695. Their website is at

Special Discounts on Some of Avotaynu’s Major Books Ends Wednesday
Avotaynu’s deep discount on some of its major reference works ends this Wednesday, June 18. You can buy the following books at a 40% discount plus shipping.

Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy $85.00 $51.00
Dictionary of Ashkenazic Jewish Names $85.00 $51.00
Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames $89.00 $53.40
Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (2 volumes)
    $118.00 $70.80
Dictionary of Jewish Surname from Galicia $85.00 $51.00
Where Once We Walked $85.00 $51.00

Some of these books have won awards by the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Jewish Book Council.

Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire not only provides you with the correct Russian spelling of these surnames (through reverse transliteration), but its 100-page introduction is a definitive description of the origin and evolution of Jewish surnames from that part of Eastern Europe. It makes fascinating reading and gives quite an education.

To learn the merits of each of these books—or to order the book—click on the name of the book above. For example, the Galicia and German book websites include a complete list of surnames in their respective books.

At checkout, use the Coupon Code SUMMER to get the 40% discount.

Geniphile Answers 20 Common Criticisms of Geni
E. Randol Schoenberg, one of the strongest advocates of the Geni approach to family history documentation, has posted to his blog “Answers to Geni Skeptics” in which he covers 20 common criticisms people have about Geni. It is located at It is worth reading because it will give you an understanding about the concerns people have about Geni and Schoenberg’s response.

Below are a selection of questions Schoenberg identifies and a portion of his answer to these questions:

1. Someone stole my tree and put it on Geni. …The bottom line is that anyone is allowed to create a family tree using the data on your family tree. So, get over it. Whoever added the information did you a favor. Now you don’t need to do it yourself.

3. I want to be deleted. No man is an island. We all are part of the World Family Tree, even if we don’t want to be. In general, you can’t boss other people around and tell them what to say and do.…

7. On Geni you lose all control of your tree. Yes. That is what works so well. You collaborate with other people and together you solve problems, fix mistakes, make breakthroughs and build a better tree.…

12. There are no sources on Geni. Geni is a place to build your family tree. Geni’s parent company, MyHeritage, competes with Ancestry in offering (for a fee) access to billions of records and other data sets (like US census records). On Geni, you can also pay to access the data on MyHeritage.…

19. I’ve used another site and it’s better. It’s pretty clear you have no idea what you are talking about.…

This topic will be a lecture/discussion at the annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. A panel will discuss “Internet Collaboration: How Do We Share Our Family Trees Online?” The three panelists are Adam Brown, who also is proponent of Geni; Israel Pickholtz, who questions the value of Geni; Gary Mokotoff, who will describe some middle-of-the-road solutions. AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Sack-Pikus, will moderate the discussion. All three panelists recently have written articles in AVOTAYNU detailing their views.

IIJG Posts Online Digital Maps of the Jewish Populations in Europe (1750–1950)
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy has added to its website a series of four maps of Jewish populations in Europe (1750–1950). The years represented are:
   • 1750
   • 1800 and 1850
   • 1900 and 1930
   • 1950

On any map, double click on the button next to the town name, and a window will open that shows the latitude/longitude of the town, its population for the years stated and alternate names for the town. Towns on the 1900/1930 map that have gray rather than orange buttons do not include the 1900 population figures. The devastation of the Holocaust can be seen by comparing the 1900/1930 map with the 1950 one. The former shows a massive number of dots representing the enormous number of towns where Jews dwelled. The 1950 shows exactly 11 towns.

Links to the maps can be found at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2.6 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, Chile, England, Guatemala, Netherlands, Peru, Spain, Venezuela and the U.S. states of Arkansas, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. There are also another 172,000 index records added to their World War I Draft Registration collection.

Notable for Jewish family history research are additions to the following indexes: New York, Northern Arrival Manifests, 1902–1956 (Northern Arrivals are border crossings in New York State and Maine); and Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883–1945.

Note that at the website announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. Also note that counts shown in the announcement are the number added, not the total number available in the collection, which can be greater.

Austro-Hungarian WWI Casualty Lists Online
A posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group notes that images of World War I casualty lists for Austria-Hungary are viewable and full-word searchable on the Upper Austrian Regional Library website at Searching for a surname, town or other factor produces results with a description of the source and a thumbnail of the page where found. Clicking on the thumbnail produces a larger picture of the page with the search argument highlighted on the page. The Upper Austrian Regional Library has not yet posted all its lists online. They have so far posted about 40% of known lists, and are digitizing more each day, essentially in chronological order. (Reported by Logan Kleinwaks)

“What Happens When the DNA Lies”
Michael LeClerc of Mocavo has written an interesting article, “What Happens When the DNA Lies,” which describes two very unusual cases where mothers did not have the same DNA as their children. It can be read 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 a check to Avotaynu Foundation,  794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515, USA. 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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