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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 41 | October 29, 2017

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.

Genealogists Present Their Opinions at NYC Vital Records Hearing
Last Tuesday, for more than 2½ hours, genealogists expressed opposition to the proposed restriction on public access to New York City birth records for 125 years and death records for 75 years by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMG). The public hearing was attended by more than 60 people. In addition, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society collected more than 3,380 signatures on their online petition and presented it to the DOHMG in the form of a 325-page document.

If these actions persuade DOHMG to revise their proposal, it will demonstrate yet again that genealogists can affect public policy.

Additional information can be found at

Some Preliminary Plans for the 2018 Conference
Planners for the 38th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have disclosed a rough outline of the conference events. Persons planning to attend should arrive in Warsaw early enough to participate in “Welcome to Warsaw Day,” Sunday, August 5, 2018, the first day of the conference. There are plans to offer walking tours early in the day, provide conference registration all day at the conference hotel, and allow time to visit POLIN Museum and other local sites to get acquainted with Warsaw.

There will be a “treasure hunt” game to encourage attendees to explore the town and POLIN Museum from a genealogist’s perspective. Sunday afternoon plans include a version of the traditional Share Fair for informal conversations one-on-one with SIG and other regional experts at the conference hotel. The opening plenary session with a speaker/cultural presentation (or both) will be held in the late afternoon on Sunday to start the conference.

In the past, conferencs have ended by noon Friday in anticipation of the Sabbath. In Poland, Shabbat comes quite late in the day, so sessions might continue into Friday afternoon.

The conference website at currently contains only very preliminary information.

Polish State Archives’ Branches to Remain Open During Summer 2018
In response to holding the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Warsaw in August 2018, the Polish State Archives (PSA) has announced that, unlike past years, all PSA branches will remain open throughout the summer months. It is possible that at any given time, a particular branch will have reduced staff due to planned vacations, but they will remain open for walk-in visitors.

In addition to the PSA, there are civil records offices (Urzad Stanu Cywilnego) in thousands of town halls around Poland. These offices are independent of the Polish State Archives and, therefore, access to their records—almost always those less than 100 years old for births—varies from town to town. The level of service at either Polish State Archives branches or Civil Records Offices depends upon many factors. Same day service should not be expected as the norm when placing a request for documents even outside of summer months, according to JRI-Poland.

Clearly, trips to archives and ancestral shtetls should be planned before or after the conference, not during. Because of the location of the conference, it is expected that an unusually large number of experts and archivists from the Polish and other Eastern European archives will lecture and participate.

Tours Before/After Conference. Taube Tours, the official tour agency for the conference, is preparing a schedule of guided trips which may also provide access to archives around Poland.

IAJGS 2019 Conference to Be Held In Cleveland, Ohio
The website of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies——indicates the 2019 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be in Cleveland, Ohio. No specific dates are stated.

Clearance Sale: A Practical Guide for Jewish Cemeteries for Only $19.00
Is it possible to write a book about cemeteries that is useful for genealogists and interesting to read? Avotaynu published such a book some years ago titled A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries.

This 256-page book is a comprehensive text on Jewish cemeteries, providing historic, legal, traditional and mystical information in easy-to-understand format. The text is illustrated with 107 photographs and diagrams. It is an invaluable tool for the genealogist, researcher, student, tour guide and traveler that includes:
   • A simple course on how to read Hebrew tombstone text and dates
   • A detailed explanation of Jewish tombstone symbols • Tombstone photography, rubbing and preservation
   • History and location of famous Jewish cemeteries and Nazi camps
   • Burial sites and biographies of 260 famous Jews
   • A history of Jewish burial from Abraham to present day
   • Jewish law and tradition concerning cemeteries
   • How to approach people who vandalize cemeteries
   • Strategies to prevent removal by companies and governments • Information about ancient Jewish burials

The book regularly sells for $39.00 plus shipping. We want to clean out our stock of remaining copies. Until Monday, November 6, we are offering it for only $19.00 plus shipping. There are less than 100 copies in stock. When it is sold out, the book will go to “Out of Print” status, so order now!

You must use a special web page to take advantage of the offer: The webpage includes the complete Table of Contents plus a sample chapter.

About Family History Daily
One of the newer genealogy online columns is Family History Daily. While many genealogy columns like Nu? What’s New? focus on current news, Family History Daily consists primarily of feature articles usually of interest to a wide variety of readers. Here are some of the recent articles:
   • Find the Hidden Original Records for Ancestry’s Indexes with This Smart Technique
   • Some of the Best Genealogy DNA Reports Are Free, Here’s Where to Find Them
   • How to Quickly Find Free Genealogy Records from Hundreds of US Repositories

Regarding the first named article, it notes that Ancestry sometime has only the index to a collection and not the actual records. FamilySearch has the records, but not the index. When this occurs, Ancestry identifies their source as FamilySearch. They even provide the microfilm number. Find the record of interest in the Ancestry index, then copy the record from Family Search.

This technique also applies to the JRI-Poland records. If a resulting search shows a microfilm number in the last column, it means the JRI-Poland’s source was a FamilySearch microfilm. FamilySearch is in the process of placing all of its microfilms online, and the record you are seeking may already be there.

Family History Daily is located at You can subscribe to it at

JDC Emigration Service Index Cards - Warsaw Added to JRI-Poland Database
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) have entered into an agreement that allows searches of the JRI-Poland database to display links to selected holdings in the JDC Archives Names Database. The first collection to be searchable on JRI-Poland is 8,200 name entries in the “JDC Emigration Service Index Cards: Warsaw Office, 1945-1949.”

The JDC Archives is the institutional repository of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a humanitarian relief agency established in 1914. Its website at includes exhibits, photo galleries, finding aids, and topic guides as well as a searchable database of its digitized collections of almost three million pages of documents, 71,000 photographs, and a Names Index of half a million names of individuals and families assisted by JDC.

Launched in early 1995, JRI-Poland is the largest fully searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online. More than 5 million records from more than 550 Polish towns are now indexed or fully extracted with more being added regularly.

Additional information about the announcement can be found at

80% of Hungarian Holocaust Victims Have Been Identified
Yad Vashem has announced that a recently completed project has identified 200,000 new names of Hungarian Jews murdered in the Holocaust. This means that 80% of Hungarian Holocaust victims have been identified, according to the institution. Equally significant is that 2,463,000 pages of documentation have been copied from 170,000 files, expanding its current archives with information about the Jewish communities that once existed and thrived in Hungary.

Dr. Alexander Avram, Yad Vashem’s Director of the Hall of Names and the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names stated, “The project has uncovered much more than just the names of the Hungarian victims; it has revealed part of their individual stories, and in some cases, for the first time was able to connect a rare photograph with the name of the faceless murdered.”

Additional information can be found at News/News.aspx/237173

JewishGen Education Offers “Writing Short Reports” November 3–27
JewishGen once again is offering its popular publishing class, “Writing Short Reports,” November 3–27. The class will help students organize their data, notes and media files to create three short-standardized reports.

This structured class uses a series of lessons and a forum setting
where you post your work and interact with the instructor who
will make suggestions as you write your rough draft, edit and finalize
each report. Tuition is $150.

Additional information and registration can be found at

1926 Polish Declarations of Friendship Digitized by the Library of Congress
A posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group notes that the U.S. Library of Congress has digitized and placed online images of the 1926 declarations of friendship between Poland and the U.S. signed by more than 5 million Polish people, most of them students of primary and secondary schools.

The collection of 111 volumes is organized for easy viewing with links directly to the digital archive. You can browse the signatures to see who attended schools in your town. To access go to and scroll down until you find the volume for your town. Note that many Galician towns that are now in the Ukraine were in Poland in 1926.

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 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

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

* Also see Russia and USSR ** Also see individual countries
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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