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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 31 | August 12, 2018

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.

Warsaw Conference Is History
The 38th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is history, and what a magnificent conference it was. It attracted scholars from Europe who do not normally attend IAJGS conferences. The people who volunteered to devote countless hours to the preparation and execution of the event are to be commended for the excellent job.

Possibly the most significant accomplishment of the conference is that it gave the archivists and historians of Eastern Europe the opportunity to get to know who we are. We are not hobbyists but family historians anxious to know who our ancestors were and in what environment they lived.

I visited Warsaw 21 years ago after the IAJGS conference which was held in Paris. It was not many years after Poland threw off its communist yoke, so it still had a drab look. Now the city is gleaming with skyscrapers of remarkable architecture and there are cranes attesting to the new construction going on. Just go to to see examples of the new look of Warsaw.

IAJGS Award Winners
The annual IAJGS awards were announced at the Warsaw conference. They were:
   • Lifetime Achievement Award - Mark Halpern (shown at right)
   • Outstanding Project/Resource/Program – Banai Feldstein for Crowd Sourced Indexing Project
   • Volunteers of the Year – Carol Hoffman and Max Heffler
   • Outstanding Publication – Venturing Into Our Past, JGS of Conejo Valley (California)
   • Rabbi Malcolm H Stern Grant – Vilna Household Registers Project
   • John Stedman Award – Reclaim the Records
   • Special Award – Susan Edel

Next Year’s conference will be in Cleveland, Ohio, July 28–August 2

Consumer Genetic and Personal Genomic Testing Companies Issue Position on Privacy
Future of Privacy Forum, along with a number of consumer genetic and personal genomic testing companies including 23andMe, Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, Habit, Helix and MyHeritage, have released a position paper titled “Privacy Best Practices for Consumer Genetic Testing Services.” The Best Practices provide a policy framework for the collection, protection, sharing, and use of genetic data generated by consumer genetic testing services. These services are commonly offered to consumers for testing and interpretation related to ancestry, health, nutrition, wellness, genetic relatedness, lifestyle, and other purposes.

The complete announcement from Future of Privacy Forum can be found at

Finding Your Roots Season 5 to Premier January 8, 2019
The American family history show Finding our Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr will have its Season 5 premier on January 8, 2019. In one episode, Paul Ryan, U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives discovers he has Jewish ancestry.

Season 5 includes the following episodes:
   • “The Stories Encoded in Our DNA” with Andy Samberg and George R.R. Martin
   • “Mystery Men” with Michael K. Williams and Felicity Huffman
   • “Truth Tellers” with Christiane Amanpour, Ann Curry and Lisa Ling
   • “Dreaming of a New Land (Between Worlds)” with Sheryl Sandberg, Kal Penn and Marisa Tomei
   • “Freedom Tales” with S. Epatha Merkerson and Michael Strahan
   • “Into The Wild” with Laura Linney, Michael Moore and Chloe Sevigny
   • “Roots in Politics” with Tulsi Gabbard, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan
   • “The Eye of the Beholder” with Marina Abramovic, Alejandro Innaritu and Kehinde Wiley
   • “No Laughing Matter” with Tig Notaro, Seth Meyers and Sarah Silverman
   • “All in the Family” with Joe Madison, Dr. Gates' personal DNA story and “The Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings” STEM Camp


Reclaim The Records Asking for Brooklyn “Old Town” Records
Reclaim The Records’ latest venture in making public records available on the internet is a request to the New York City Municipal Archives for copies of Brooklyn “Old Town” records from 1670–1898. These are records during the period when Brooklyn was not unified but instead consisted of individual towns. These old town names still retain their identity as neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

Reclaim The Records recently received a grant from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. To donate to their efforts, go to donations/general-fund/.

More Comprehensive List of Research Sites for Australia and New Zealand
The last issue of Nu? What’s New included an article about 12 internet sites in Australia and New Zealand that provide potential family history information. Robyn Dryen, president of the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society, has developed a more comprehensive list. It can be found at

“The Immigration Act of 1924 and the End of Ellis Island”
The FamilySearch blog includes an article about “The Immigration Act of 1924 and the End of Ellis Island.” In 1921, the Emergency Quota Act introduced a quota system that gave preference to northern and western Europeans. A follow-up law, the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, kept this quota system and refined it in ways that further limited immigration from southern and eastern European countries. These laws put a virtual end to immigration from Central and Eastern Europe.

The article is divided into the following sections:
   • The Immigration Act of 1924
   • How did the Immigration Act of 1924 Affect Ellis Island?
   • How Did the 1924 Immigration Law Affect Passenger Arrival Records?
   • NY Passenger Arrival Records 1925–1957

The article can be found at

Map of Remaining Synagogues of Europe Online
An interactive map of all of the European continent’s 3,318 remaining synagogues is on display at synagogue-map. It includes buildings that are no longer synagogues. It is a work-in-progress. In some cases, the only information provided is that the synagogue building still exits with additional information, including a picture, to be added later.

Information about the project can be found at

WorldCat Produces Map of Libraries Worldwide is a website that helps you locate a book in a library near you. Now Family History Daily reports that WorldCat has developed a map that shows libraries worldwide that are part of their system. It is located at The Family History Daily article is at

Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files Is Complete
Library and Archives Canada has announced that the indexing and digitization of 620,000 of its “Personnel Records of the First World War” database is now complete. Copies of the original documents are presented. They include a host of information including date/place of birth, name/address of next of kin and other data. Information about the project can be found at The actual search page is at

This database includes names indexed from the following First World War personnel records:
   • Files of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF): Soldiers, Nurses and Chaplains
   • Files of CEF volunteers who were rejected at Valcartier
   • Non-Permanent Active Militia Files
   • Files of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland Forestry Corps
   • Imperial War Service Gratuity Files

Family History Show in London September 22
London’s Family History Show this year will be at Surrey Hall at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher on September 22. It is a larger facility than last year which will allow for more exhibitors and an additional lecture area.

Keynote speaker is Dick Eastman, who will talk on “The Future of Genealogy.” An Ask the Experts panel and Census Detectives will be there to help with research, date photographs and identify medals.

Additional information can be found at the-family-history-show-london-saturday-22nd-september/.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 1 Million Records (July 30 Report)
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 1 million indexed records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. They include records from France, United Kingdom(†), and the states of Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Washington.

Most notable for persons with Jewish family history is a new collection: New Jersey Bride Index 1930–1938.

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.

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 8 Million Records (August 6 Report)
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 8 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Hungary, Italy, Peru, Sweden and the BillionGraves Index.

Most notable for persons with Jewish family history are a small number (2,292) of additions to Hungary, Jewish Vital Records Index, 1800–1945. Also additions to the BillionGraves Index.

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.

Let’s Stop Referring to “Jews” When Discussing Eastern Europe
Consider the following four statements:
   • Americans and Jews live in harmony in the United States
   • Canadians and Jews live in harmony in Canada.
   • Poles and Jews live in harmony in Poland.
   • Lithuanians and Jews live in harmony in Lithuania.

The first two statements seem inappropriate. Jewish-Americans are Americans. Jewish-Canadians are Canadians. Then why aren’t the Jewish citizens of Poland referred to as Poles? Why aren’t the Jewish citizens of Lithuanian identified as Lithuanians?

One of the contributions to anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe is that Jews are referred to as if they are not part of the general population. This is not merely fostered by anti-Semites. Jews themselves refer to themselves as “Jews” rather than citizens of their country.

At the recent IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy, there was much mention of the rapport between today’s “Poles and Jews.” Isn’t it more appropriate to say there is rapport between Polish Christians and Polish Jews?

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Published quarterly, our contributing editors from 15 countries throughout the world regularly gather important information that appears in our issues. Our publishers, Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, are on a first name basis with officials at institutions containing genealogical data throughout the world. 
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