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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 16 | April 19, 2015

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
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.

Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Now Has Wikipedia Entry
Thanks to the efforts of Erika Herzog, there is now a Wikipedia entry for Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern at Erika put many hours of research on the Internet to provide a substantial history of Rabbi Stern, both his career in genealogy and as a rabbi. She is a Wikipedia contributing editor, which meant she knew the requirements to get approval from Wikipedia editors. Again, many thanks for the magnificent job and thanks to Banai Feldstein, president of the Utah Jewish Genealogical Society who alerted Erika to my call for a volunteer.

Last Chance to Own Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust for Only $49 Plus Shipping!!
Today is the last day you can order Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust for only $49 plus shipping. Tomorrow, Monday, we will send the orders—currently more than 100—to the publisher for shipping to purchasers. The multi-volume work originally sold for $325 and can be bought through Amazon for $135.00.

You must use the following links to get the special price:
U.S. Deliveries only:
Other countries:

Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust is a three-volume work that provides information about more than 6,000 shtetls and cities of your ancestors in almost every country of continental Europe (exceptions: Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland). You can view a list of towns at It almost certainly includes towns of interest to you.

The work is a condensation of the renowned Pinkas HaKehillot series published by Yad Vashem plus information on areas of Europe yet to be covered by the series. The Encyclopedia chronicles the history of the Jewish communities and its people, as well as the habits and customs of the communities. There are more than 600 photographs and illustrations.

RootsTech and WDYTYA-LIVE! Announce 2016 Conference Dates
The two largest family history conferences in the world have announced their 2016 dates.

RootsTech. The RootsTech and Innovator Summit will be held in Salt Lake City from February 3–6, 2016. There is already a call for papers which must be submitted between June 12–30, 2015. Information about submitting proposals can be found at

Who Do You Think You Are LIVE!!. The 2015 confeence was over yesterday. The 2016 conference will be held April 28–30 in Birmingham.

JewishGen Creates Educational Videos
Phyllis Kramer, Vice President–Education of JewishGen, has created a series of five-minute videos about various aspects of JewishGen and genealogical
research. They are:
   • Prepare For Your Search (for USA researchers)
   • Navigate JewishGen
   • Find Your Ancestral Town (for USA researchers)
   • Communicate with Other Researchers via:
      –JGFF: JewishGen Family Finder
      –FTJP: Family Tree of the Jewish People
      –JewishGen Discussion Groups
   • Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
   • Jewish Genealogy Websites & Organizations:
      –Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part I (JewishGen and IAJGS/JGS)
      –Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part II

Go to to view them.

JewishGen Education Offers an Online Forum: The Jewish in Jewish Genealogy
JewishGen is offering an online class on “The Jewish in Jewish Genealogy.” The class will give the participants a chance to understand the Jewish immigration experience and discover tricks and tips to successfully search for Jewish ancestry. It will also cover Jewish institutions in the old country and in the U.S. It will help a researcher discover patterns and prejudices that affected the way life was lived in the new country. Jewish life cycles, customs and culture, origin of family names and naming practices, assimilation and acculturation, migrations patterns and surname mapping will be part of this study.

The course lasts from May 1–29. The full description is at Registration is at Cost is $120. Launches “Ancestry Academy” has placed on the Internet a number of hour-long videos to educate interested people in various aspects of family history research. Called Ancestry Academy,” it is located at

There are currently 16 offerings divided into four categories: Ancestry Products (6), Records (4), Methodology and Skills (4) and Localities and Ethnic Research (2). Even those that promote Ancestry products may be useful, such as “Digging for Ancestors with Find A Grave” and “You Found What in the 1940 Census?”.

Those that promote Ancestry products are free of charge. For the others, membership in Ancestry Academy is required which costs $11.99/month or $99.99/year. Offering Free Access to Immigration Records through Monday is offering free access to its Immigration Records Collection through Monday, April 20, 2015. Registration is required, if not done previously, but you are not required to provide credit card information.

AncestryDNA Announces “New Ancestor Discoveries”
One major difference between Jewish genealogy and Christian genealogy is that Christians trace their ancestry; Jews document their families. This is because many Christians can trace their ancestry back hundreds of years through church records, such as baptisms, and other records. Jews, especially those of Eastern European ancestry, rarely can go back earlier than the beginning of the 19th century (exception: rabbinic dynasties) because there are no records.

So when a Jewish genealogist finds his/her most distant ancestor, s/he comes forward and documents all descendants of that ancestor. I tested this theory on African American genealogists who are descended from slaves. They too document families rather than limit to ancestors, because they have a brick wall with their slave ancestor.

So when I read that has created a new capability called “New Ancestor Discoveries,” my immediate reaction was that it was nothing new. FamilyTreeDNA has been doing it for years, first through their matching program and then with the advent of Projects by surname, geographical similarity, DNA matching etc.

AncestryDNA states, “First, living cousins of each AncestryDNA member are found and organized into family networks called DNA Circles™...” I don’t need a family circle. All of my cousins, including some of them sixth cousins to my grandchildren, are already on my family tree.

New Ancestor Discoveries does have great application for those who merely trace their ancestry and look at collateral lines only to get around their inability to find records of their ancestors. It is nothing new to most Jewish genealogists who already know their collateral lines.

Additional information can be found at

EHRI Online Portal Connects Holocaust Archives Worldwide
The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) has established an online portal that provides access to information about more than 1,800 Holocaust-related archival institutions in 51 countries, and to descriptions of tens of thousands of archival materials. It is located at Searching for an ancestral town might identify where to find information about the events that occurred there during the Holocaust period.

Central to EHRI’s mission is the creation of an online inventory of Holocaust-related archival institutions and collections. It also provides Holocaust education through fellowship opportunities, summer schools, workshops and conferences.

ITS Director Returning to Academic Life
The Director of the International Tracing Service (ITS), Rebecca Boehling, has announced that she will be returning in January 2016 to her previous post as Professor of History and Affiliate Professor of Judaic Studies and Gender and Women Studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). She has been on temporary leave from UMBC in order to lead ITS since the beginning of 2013. Professor Rebecca Boehling is the first director to be recruited and named by the International Commission for the ITS, the institution, made up of eleven member states, that governs the ITS. Her responsibility was to set the course for the transformation of ITS to an international center for documentation, information and research.

ITS is now issuing a call for applications for the position of director of the ITS. Her successor will have a start date of 1 January 2016.

The announcement can be found at

Have You Registered to Receive Notices from Avotaynu Online?

Have you subscribed to Avotaynu’s latest venture: Avotaynu Online? We have created a special sign-on site at By registering, you will receive a weekly notice of items added to the site.

By virtue of its focus on the in-depth reporting of specific subjects, Avotaynu Online will be entirely distinct from the existing print journal, AVOTAYNU, which for over three decades has covered the broad spectrum of Jewish family history research, and from the weekly Nu? What’s New?, which reports breaking stories in the world of genealogy.

 Avotaynu Online is free of charge. 

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