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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 26 | October 26, 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

MyHeritage and 23andMe Enter Collaboration
MyHeritage and 23andMe have entered into an agreement to share resources. They state, “Combining genealogy with DNA-based ancestry is the next evolution in uncovering family history. DNA testing can connect you to relatives you never knew existed, who descend from shared ancestors centuries ago, but family trees and historical records are critical to map and fully understand these connections.”
The news announcement added, “This will allow 23andMe’s customers to enjoy automated family history discoveries.” Smart Matching [by MyHeritage] automatically finds connections between user-contributed family trees and Record Matching automatically locates historical records from the billions of records available on MyHeritage which pertain to any person in the family tree. MyHeritage will utilize 23andMe's API to provide the best experience for customers by allowing any two people with matching DNA to explore their family tree connections.

The first phase of integration will be complete by early 2015. The announcement can be found at

Family Tree Accepting Autosomal DNA Results From Competitors
Family Tree DNA is offering the opportunity to transfer your autosomal DNA results to its database. The company states that after transferring the data, you will get the top 20 matches, complete with surnames and relationship predictions. You can unlock all matches and myOrigins results free of charge by recruiting four other relatives or friends to transfer their results. Information and the procedure for transferring can be found at

News From JRI-Poland
The 5 million plus database of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland has made both national and international news recently.

Polish Museum. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews will have its grand opening in Warsaw on October 28, 2014, with the unveiling of its remarkable Core Exhibit.

Since the early planning stages a genealogy component has been planned. JRI-Poland signed an agreement with the museum last April to promote research and to educate those interested in learning about their family history and the rich and historic culture of Polish Jewry. The Resource Center at the Museum will have especially rapid access to the JRI-Poland database and website. Museum staff
and JRI-Poland volunteers will educate visitors, respond to their
questions regarding the database, and provide guidance to Museum
visitors on the next steps to take in their research of family
roots in Poland.

During the Grand Opening period of October 27 through October 30, JRI-Poland Board Members Michael Tobias and Mark Halpern will be in the Resource Center to help visitors in starting their family
history research. The grand opening program can be viewed at -of-the-core-exhibition. The New York Times devoted an extensive article to the museum. It can be found at

Finding Your Roots Broadcasts. The ancestral search in the November 4th episode of PBS’s documentary series Finding Your Roots, might not have happened if not for the Jewish Records Indexing – Poland project, according to Stanley Diamond, Executive Director of the organization.

This episode features three notable Americans, renowned attorney Alan Dershowitz, Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Carole King and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and screen writer Tony Kushner. All three have deep Jewish roots in Poland. The episode’s researchers were able to tap into JRI-Poland’s online database as both the starting point and a major source for documenting the ancestry of all three of the featured personalities.

Finding Your Roots producer/director Josh Gleason commented, “We were able to provide our guests with information about their 3rd and 4th great-grandparents that would have been virtually impossible to uncover without this resource. JRI-Poland's database is truly a gift to family historians and genealogists around the world.”

Information about the series is at Information about the November 4 program is at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
It was a slow week for our friends at FamilySearch who normally add millions of records or images each week. Only 462,000 records were added. They can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia and the U.S. states of Illinois and Oregon. The Illinois collection is additional Northern District Petitions for Naturalization (1906-1991). Adds Millions of German Records has added 1.7 million birth records, 2 million marriage records and 1.8 million death records for Berlin. They cover the years from 1874 to 1920 (1874 to 1899 for the birth records). In addition, they have added 11.7 million vital records for various towns in Germany including Diepholz, Delmenhorst, Dresden, Flensburg, Grafing, Grevesmühlen, Mainz, Mannheim, Mühldorf am Inn, Regen and Rehna. The range of years varies but is typically 1870s–1920s.

Note that is a fee-for-service site. At present, does not post their weekly additions as a news release. If there is a town of interest, search for all records of the town. This can be accomplished from the home page by clicking Advanced Search and, on the next page, checking off the box that says “Match all terms exactly” and typing the town name in the Location box just below the Last Name box. Such a search will also display any other record collections they have for the town.

National Archives Genealogy Fair
The U.S. National Archives will hold its 2014 Virtual Genealogy Fair from October 28–30 starting daily at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The entire event is at no charge and requires no registration. Glancing at the program, there are a number of interesting topics for Jewish genealogists and genealogists in general. They include Introduction to Genealogy, Preserving Your Personal Records, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and others. A description of the individual programs is at Linking to each webinar is at

Webinar on INS Deportation and Exclusion Files
The U.S. National Archives will hold a webinar on “Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Exclusion and Deportation Files at the National Archives” Wednesday, October 29 at 3pm. It is part of the
2014 Virtual Genealogy Fair. If you have a relative who was “sent back to the Old Country,” this lecture will use case study examples to introduce family historians to INS exclusion and deportation files (1893–1950).

To view the webinar or see the Genealogy Fair’s full schedule, visit the National Archives Genealogy Fair website at

U.S. Library of Congress Webinar on Introduction to Their Online Resources
The Library of Congress will hold a one-hour webinar on making the most of the Library's online collections: photographs, maps, sound recordings, films, legal and historical documents, and more. It will be held on Wednesday, October 29, from 11am to noon. Additional information is at

German Minority Census of 1939 Online
It was reported on the JewishGen German SIG Discussion Group that part of the German Minority Census of 1939 is online at According to the site, “In May 1939 a census was conducted in Germany (including annexed Austria and the Sudetenland) that required the head of each household to fill out a supplementary card which mandated marking the Jewish background of each of the resident's four grandparents.” The source of the information online is these cards.

Information provided is name (including maiden name of women), birth date, birth place and street address. The only way to match up families is by street address. Children were not enumerated. As the site says, “Currently, the searchable data includes persons who can be proven to have perished in the Holocaust, those who were born prior to 1903 (+110 years ago), and others who were deceased prior to 1984 (+30 years ago). If the person you are searching for was born after 1903 and did not perish in the Holocaust, the chances are very slim that they will be included here.”

One useful feature of the search engine is that (at least) the Last Name field information supplied is treated as a “contains” function. For example, searching for “otow” brought up results for people named Kotowsi, Mokotow, etc.

All persons named Mokotow who lived in Germany and were born before 1903 are included; both victims and survivors. Herman and Bella Simon of Berlin—Holocaust victims—are not included. Bella’s grandmother was a Mokotow.

Free Access to Death Records for Halloween
In celebration of Halloween, MyHeritage is offering free access to a large variety of death and obituary records. You can locate people in collections such as BillionGraves, FindAGrave, Canadian Headstones, U.S. Social Security Death Index and more. Go to death-burial-cemetery-obituaries?utm_campaign=october2014.

Right To Be Forgotten and Right To Know
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, has written a lengthy article about how the European Union’s Court decision against Google on the “right to be forgotten” is resulting in discussions about how the ruling will affect freedom of expression. As of October 10, Google received 144,954 requests for removing a person’s name from 498,737 URLs evaluated for removal. Just over 58 percent of the requests were granted removal.

The Court’s decision continues to be controversial not only within the Internet community but several of the EU member countries do not agree with the depth of the “right to be forgotten”. One of Google’s concerns with the ruling is that no guidance on how to comply with the decision was included in the court’s ruling.

Allen notes, “Some are concerned that if adopted the proposed regulation could undermine press freedoms and freedom of speech. Aggrieved individuals could use the decision to hide or suppress information of public importance, including links about elected officials. In Europe, the right to privacy trumps freedom of speech; the reverse is true in the United States.”

An American friend of mine found some old negative comments on the Internet and asked Google to remove them. It will be interesting to see if Google considers the request.

Allen’s complete report can be found at

Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy Updates Reflect Growth of Jewish Genealogical Resources
A request from the editor of a Jewish Genealogical Society newsletter caused me to extract from previous editions of Nu? What’s New? how the Avotaynu book Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy has changed in the past five years. Each year the book is updated to reflect what is new in Jewish genealogy. Here are abstracts of what appeared in previous editions:

2011. The major improvement from the 2010 edition is the addition of information about using DNA testing for family history research and a section on the Association of Professional Genealogists.

2012. There is no longer a company called It is now ShtetlLinks has been changed to KehilaLinks. There are two new SIGs: Bessarabia and Sub-Carpathian. The 1940 census access will be a fact in 2012 rather than a future resource. The Family Search section is rewritten to reflect the new design of the web site.

2013. The new chapter is “How To Search Online Databases,” which was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of AVOTAYNU. It describes the various types of searches some sites offer such as wildcard, phonetic, fuzzy and synonym searches. It also discusses the nuances of one-name searches and sites in non-native languages. The chapter was previously titled “Genealogical Software.” It has been re-titled “Getting Started Properly.” It discusses the importance of genealogical software, citing sources, entering data in a standard way (names, dates, places) and the value of maintaining a research log.

2014. Significant additions to the book are sections on, Geni and American Joint Distribution Committee. As is true every year, other chapters were reevaluated to confirm that the information is still current. Statistics about database sizes and websites are now more current.

The book has grown since 2010 from 92 pages to 104. Additional information can be found 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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