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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 39 | October 12, 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
CNN Celebrities Trace Their Roots
Television shows about tracing roots may have become the new “in” programs as CNN now joins Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. in featuring the family history of some of its better-known newscasters. Beginning today, October 12, thirteen of the network’s prominent hosts and anchors set out on a journey to find their roots. It appears these stories will be integrated with the regular programs these people host.

Wolf Blitzer, who seems to be the only Jewish personality, will search his roots on Wednesday, October 15 at 5pm. Blitzer is the son of Holocaust survivors and will visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem where he will discover his paternal grandparents were murdered at Auschwitz. He also visits ancestral towns in Poland.

A complete list of programs and personalities can be found at 2014/10/06/cnn-hosts-journey-to-find-their-roots-2/?iref=allsearch.

Next Year in Jerusalem!
Registration Now Open for the IAJGS 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Registration is now open for the IAJGS 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy which will take place at the Jerusalem Ramada, July 6–10, 2015.

The Conference website,, currently includes registration for those outside of Israel, a Call for Papers and basic information. Additional information on shekel-based registration, Family Finder, Exploration Sunday, Shabbaton and meal functions and more will be available shortly. Sign up for the Conference Discussion Group at discussion--3 to post messages and see other inquiries and announcements about the conference. It is also possible to follow the conference on Facebook or Twitter.

The Conference is being held in cooperation with MyHeritage and with the support of individual, organizational and corporate sponsors presently including Harvey Krueger of New York and Yad Vashem. The sponsors listing will be updated from time to time.

Have You Signed the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights?
With all the talk about privacy rights by other interest and political groups, the genealogical community created its own “Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights” last May. The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy.

Genealogists advocate the right of access to records held by government agencies including but not limited to vital records (births, marriages, deaths, divorces); land conveyances and mortgages; tax assessments; guardianships; probate of estates; criminal proceedings; suits of law and equity; immigration; military service and pensions; and acts of governmental entities. Genealogists further advocate that they need to be allowed access to original records when photocopies, microfilm, digital images, or other formats are insufficient to establish clear text, context, or completeness of the record. The rights of genealogists specified in the Declaration object to numerous barriers created to deny them access to records.

We cannot have our voice heard in Congress without showing we are a formidable number of voters. Readers can read and sign the Declaration at Do so now!

JewishGen Offering Independent Study Class Again
JewishGen is again offering its Independent Study class October 31 to November 28, 2014. This class is open to your choice of project: your topic, your research and your questions. The sessions will follow the format of other JewishGen Education classes. It is post and reply, one-on-one consultations via JewishGen’s private Internet Forum. The Forum is open 24/7 to accommodate all the time zones.

In order to qualify for the class, submit a paragraph about your project to ensure that the instructor is able to meet your objectives. The application asks to submit your search surname, towns and goals. A course description and application is at under Independent Study.

Enrollment is limited to 10 students. Send your qualifying paragraph to Nancy Holden at Tuition is $150, paid after acceptance to the class.

NARA Plans Three-day Webinar on Genealogy
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration will host a three-day genealogy webinar—October 28–30—on tips and techniques for using Federal records at NARA for genealogy research. It will cover Federal records such as census, American Indian, military, naturalization and immigration. Lectures are designed for experienced genealogists and novices. Additional information is at

U.S. National Archives Has Strategic Plan to Digitize All Records
Called “The Scan Plan,” the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has made as part of its Strategic Plan an initiative to digitize their analog records and make them available for online public access. NARA claims to have more than 12 billion pages of records. They plan to collaborate and build on efforts with private and public organizations to digitize the records. Additional information about the plan can be found at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2.8 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, Spain and the New Mexico Territorial Census of 1885.

Notable additions for Jewish family history research are more than 556,000 records from and additional images of British Columbia (Canada) marriage and death registrations.

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.

Site Has Links to U.S. Historical Directories
Directories are a potential resource because they place a person in a specific place at a specific time. One of the more remarkable collections is at where you can search and view more than 456,000 pages of historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., primarily from Central and Eastern Europe). There is another website that provides links to U.S. historical directories. It can be found at Home/usa.

Petition in UK To Allow Public Access to Birth, Marriage and Death Records
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports a petition has started to open the civil registration records (birth, marriage and death) both online and at the registration office for England and Wales. Currently, the only way to obtain a civil record is to submit a payment to the General Register Office (GRO). The person behind this campaign is Guy Etchells, the man who is behind the push to get the 1911 Census released. Etchells says by making the records immediately accessible it is a win-win as the GRO can focus on the “core task of recording and administering current registrations” and genealogical organizations may wish to digitize the records and the government would receive licensing fees. The petition is available at Only UK citizens, ex-pat, or people actually live in the UK can sign this petition.

Additional information is at records-maybe.

Warsaw Jewish Museum To Open Core Exhibit
The grand opening of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw will be held October 28–30. The highlight will be the much-anticipated opening of the museum’s Core Exhibition. This exhibition, which explores 1,000 years of Jewish life in Poland, lies at the heart of the museum and occupies one-third of the building. Developed by an international team of historians, museum experts and Jewish Studies scholars from Poland, the United States, Europe and Israel, it presents the thousand-year history of Polish Jews, their culture and heritage. It is a narrative exhibition. Visitors are immersed in a story told by artifacts, paintings and interactive installations, replicas and models, video projections and testimonies.

The announcement is at,grand-opening- of-the-core-exhibition.

Plans to Translate Vilnius Vital Records 1919–1940
The Vilnius District Research Group of Litvak SIG has plans to translate the vital records for the City of Vilnius from 1919 to 1940. Because of Privacy laws in the European Union, birth records will not be translated until 100 years have passed, but the Group plans to work immediately on marriage and death records. They have already received the first batch of records: marriage, divorce, and death records for 1919–1921.These records are on their Shutterfly website and can bed accessed by people who have contributed $100 to this project.

Additional information, which includes a link to a list of the surnames and places extracted from vital records can be found at

Latest Discount is offering a 50% discount on their annual World subscription until Wednesday, October 15. The discount price is $99.75 compared to $199.50. The offer is located 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 
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 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

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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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