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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 29 | July 26, 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.

Is Sharing of Databases By Online Genealogical Companies Good for Genealogy?
I have previously reported—with some excitement—that the sharing of databases between the various online genealogical data companies is a good idea for genealogy. Just this past week Mocavo announced that, thanks to their partnership with FamilySearch, Mocavo members now can access information from more than 22 million family trees submitted by FamilySearch users—some 860M new records.

But is this good for genealogical researchers? A significant downside is that searching for information about particular ancestors gets identical results on different sites which clouds the search for unique results. Now searching Mocavo for their unique records includes results from the “Family Search Tree,” but those records were already found on FamilySearch.

Some of the companies sharing records with FamilySearch, a free-of-charge site, are charging for these same records on their fee-for-service site. Imagine the neophyte researcher paying for a record on Mocavo that is available at no charge on FamilySearch. Currently Mocavo has an even more peculiar circumstance. If you go to their home page and search for an individual—let’s say “Tobiasz Mokotow”— and find records from FamilySearch Tree, you cannot retrieve the information without a subscription. But if you go directly to the FamilySearch Tree database on Mocavo at, the information is available at no charge.

Social Security Death Index Has New Companion:
Social Security Applications and Claims Index

One of the earliest collections on is the Social Security Death Index (also called Death Master File) which identifies more than 89 millions persons who died in the U.S. from about 1962–2014 (some earlier deaths also exist). Now has added a second database called the Social Security Applications and Claims Index (1936–2007). The source of this information is the actual application or claims process, and usually includes such valuable details as birth date, birth place, and parents’ names, including maiden name of mother.

The database is located at Complete results are available to paid subscribers only. Adds More Than 100 Years of Canadian Yearbooks has just added Canadian school yearbooks from 1908–2010 to their collection. It includes middle school, junior high, high school and university records from almost 800 institutions across the nation. Included are McGill University and the University of Toronto. They can be found at

Significant FamilySearch Additions
It has been a while since FamilySearch has announced additions to their collections. Based on their new announcement, it isn’t because they were on vacation for the summer. A list of recent additions to FamilySearch can be found at the Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter at

Many of the additions may be of value to Jewish genealogy research. Below is a list of just those items where millions of records have been added to their index. Find links to these collections at the Eastman site.
   • BillionGraves Index 1.5M added to existing collection
   • Brazil São Paulo Immigration Cards (1902–1980) 1.6M added
   • California Death Index (1905–1939) 2M added
   • Delaware Vital Records (1680–1971) 600K added
   • Illinois County Marriages (1810–1934) 500K added
   • Iowa State Census Index 1925 5.5M in new collection
   • Kentucky Vital Record Indexes (1911–1999) 9.8M in new collection
   • Massachusetts Boston Passenger Lists Index (1899–1940) 1.5M added
   • Michigan Obituaries (1820–2006) 1.4M added
   • Tennessee County Marriages (1790–1950) 3M added
   • Vermont St. Albans Canadian Border Crossings (1895–1924) 6.7M added
Note that the last-mentioned item—Canadian Border Crossings—apparently includes entries beyond 1924. The entry of a family member in 1950 is included.

These are some of the additional images added:
   • Germany Saxony Dresden Citizens’ Documents and Business Licenses (1820–1962) 856K added
   • Numerous Italian civil registration records
   • Tennessee County Marriages (1790–1950) 1.8M added
   • Vermont Town Clerk Vital and Town Records (1732–2005) 459K added

Family Tree Magazine Names 101 Best Websites for Genealogy for 2015
For the 16th consecutive year, Family Tree Magazine named its 101 best websites for genealogy. JewishGen, GenealogyIndexer and Avotaynu are listed in the “Best Continental European Genealogy Websites” category and the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site is identified in “Best Online Genealogy Tools in 2015.”

JewishGen, GenealogyIndexer and Avotaynu are misplaced since it implies these sites are limited to Continental European genealogy, when in reality, they cover the entire world. There is no appropriate category.

Additional information is at

GenealogyInTime Announces/Ranks Top 100 Genealogy Sites
Simultaneously, the online magazine GenealogyInTime announced its top 100 genealogy sites with comparison to last year’s ranking. remains on top of the list. FamilySearch is now second, just passing FindAGrave which was second last year. The rankling is based on the estimate number of visitors in the past year.

GenealogyInTime states that the top ten websites are important to look at in detail because they receive about 42% of the traffic to all the genealogy websites. They also state that the number of people visiting daily the 100 genealogy websites grew from 340,000 in 2014 to 356,000 in 2015.

JewishGen ranked the same as last year: 33. The Stephen P. Morse site dropped from 35th to 55th.

The complete ranking is shown at websites-of-2015-page02.html. The pages that follow give additional statistics about online genealogy sites.

Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names Has Been Shipped
Orders for Avotaynu’s most recently published book, Dictionary of Sephardic Given Names have been shipped. The book contains nearly 2,000 Sephardic given names that have been compiled by the author, Mathilde Tagger, from hundreds of sources.

A typical entry includes:
   • Name: In the case of a variant or a diminutive, the root name is also shown.
   • Gender: Masculine or feminine—not always obvious from the name itself
   • Etymology: The origin of the name.
   • Variants: When they exist, they are part of the root name entry.
   • Place: When a name is peculiar to a specific geographic area, the area is indentified.
   • Source: The source where the name was found.
   • Diminutives: If existing, they are part of the root name entry.

It is 166 pages and costs $24.00 plus shipping. Additional information and how to order can be found at

FEEFHS Conference in Salt Lake City August 13–15
The Foundation for East European Family History Studies (FEEFHS) will hold their annual conference August 13–15 in Salt Lake City at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel. Topics of interest to Jewish genealogists include:
   • Diane Afoumado, Chief, Research and Reference Branch, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, will give the keynote address: “How the Records of the International Tracing Service (ITS) May Surprise You,” along with three case study presentations: Jewish, Polish, and German.
   • Ina Navazelskis, Project Coordinator at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, will present a talk about the “Oral History Interview Collection” of the museum as well as “How to Conduct Oral History Interviews.”
   • Joanne Sher will lecture on “Basics of Jewish Research,” “Beyond the Basics,” “Hebrew Translating for Headstones,” and “Holocaust Research.”

The conference also offers a full track on German research, from basics to advanced topics; Russian research, Polish, and Germans from Russia. The 3-day conference is preceded by two workshops. One, presented by Joanne Sher, discusses “Finding the Village of Origin” for your ancestor.

The complete program is at

If you are of Central or Eastern European origin and are unfamiliar with FEEFHS, their site at is worth a visit. They have an extensive collection of maps of Central and Eastern Europe at Their Genealogical Resource Directory provides links to sites providing information about genealogical research for virtually every country in Europe.

The Foundation for Eastern European Family History Studies (FEEFHS) was founded in 1992 to provide access to genealogical resources and educational programs relating to Eastern European family history research.

Join IAJGS 2016 Conference Blog
The embers of the recently completed 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy are not cool yet, but the planners for the 2016 conference in Seattle, Washington, August 7–12, have already created a blog at Go to the site and subscribe to the blog to receive information about the conference as it develops.

New Book: Endogamy: One Family, One People
Professional genealogist Israel Pickholtz is about to publish a book that addresses the problem of DNA testing among Jews titled Endogamy: One Family, One People. Endogamy, the act of marrying within your own kind, plagues Jewish DNA research because it often creates the illusion that every Jew is closely related to every other. The fact that Jews have been marrying each other for hundreds of years means that all Jews are related to each other multiple times from the same ancestors. That is in addition to the more familiar “my great-grandparents were cousins.”

This phenomenon makes it very difficult to attribute bits of DNA to particular relationships in the way that non-endogamous families can. Pickholtz attacked the problem using his own families, achieving no small number of successes, and they are described in the book. The book shows how he selected family members to test and how the results enabled him to determine the probable families of his ancestors.

The book is 224 pages and retails for $35.00, currently with a prepublication discount. Additional information can be found at

Book on Jews of Charleroi, Belgium, at Outset of WWII
Vincent Vagman has published a book that lists the Jews of Charleroi, Belgium, at the outset of World War II. There were 1,641 Jews, of whom 507 were deported between 1942 and 1944. Vagman has placed on his website,, a scanned copy of the book with a search engine. It is located at ancetres-juifs-a-charl. It uses the Calaméo publishing platform. For those not familiar with how that operates, go to the site of the book. Click the icon in the upper right corner to change to full screen and page through the book. The magnifying glass icon allows you to do a full-word search of the book. I recommend that you browse the book rather than use the search engine because of the many spelling variants of a given surname. Results provide detailed information about the person.

TheGenealogist Adds 100K Records of London Synagogue Seat Holders
TheGenealogist has released online 99,500 records of London synagogue seat holders spanning the years from 1920 to 1939. It covers records from 18 synagogues around London with many connected guilds, societies, charities, etc. Information found in these records includes names of men eligible for office, life member of the council, women who are seat holders in their own right and seat holders who are not eligible to vote. The site is fully searchable by name, keyword, synagogue and address. TheGenealogist is a fee-for-service site. The announcement can be found at Note: This link may expire over time.

Additions to American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Names Index
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has indicated they have added new lists of clients they assisted in Australia, France and Sweden. Search their names index at A list of all items in their collection is at the-archives/searchable-lists.html.

FindMyPast Adding 1939 Register of UK
Findmypast in partnership with the UK National Archives is publishing the 1939 Register online. As Britain faced the certainty of war that year, householders were given a card to fill out answering questions that would give the government a breakdown of the population and assess their needs. This information would then help in such matters as identity cards, rationing, conscription and more. The Census Act of 1920 provides that no UK census can be made available for the public to view until 100 years after being taken. Due to World War II, there is a 30 year gap between available censuses. This is significant, as it means a three decade-long gap between surviving censuses. The 1939 Register bridges that gap.

To be informed about the progress of the project, sign up at

Annual European Days of Jewish Culture Is September 6
The 16th European Days of Jewish Culture will take place this September 2015 under the motto “Bridges.” Participating countries include Austria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom. Events will occur in these countries which may include tours of Jewish heritage sites, concerts, lectures, exhibitions, performances, book fairs, food tastings, etc. Some of the national programs are already online.

Loosely coordinated by the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage in Europe (AEPJ), the European Day of Jewish Culture grew out of a conference on the future of Jewish heritage in Europe held in Paris in 1999, and developed from the model of an "Open Doors" to Jewish heritage that had been begun in Alsace-Loraine in 1996.

Additional information is at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Download Pages of Testimony Forms.”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
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