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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 32 | August 19, 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.

JewishGen’s New Direction: Partnering
JewishGen’s Director, Avraham Groll, gave an annual report of the progress of the organization at the IAJGS 38th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. A major aspect of the report is that JewishGen is now creating alliances with other institutions where their records are accessible on JewishGen and vice versa.

Examples of these alliances are:
   • The 1.25M records of the Israel Genealogical Research Association will be accessible on JewishGen in the next few months.
   • The 10,000 burial records of the Jewish Galicia and Bukovina Organization have been added to the JewishGen Worldwide Burial Registry.
   • 8,500 Holocaust records have been added from Gesher Galicia.
   • The family trees online at the Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the Jewish People in Israel will be accessible through JewishGen’s Family Tree of the Jewish People and vice versa.

Unified Database Search. JewishGen has created a Unified Database Search feature which allows access to all records in the JewishGen realm. It is accessible from the home page “Databases” tab. Currently it includes:
   • 8 million records from the Family Tree of the Jewish People
   • 5 million records from Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
   • 13 million historical records from 750+ datasets created by JewishGen

Volunteer of the Year Award. Yefim Kogan was awarded the 2018/5778 JewishGen Volunteer of the Year Award for his “outstanding commitment to important work, and for creating such an incredible resource for anyone researching their Jewish roots in Bessarabia.”

JewishGen Outposts. Plans are to have direct access to the JewishGen site through terminals at institutions throughout the world. This capability now exists at Auschwitz and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

Other announcements. There are now nearly 1,000 KehilaLinks. These are web pages devoted to information about the Jewish presence in specific towns. There are now 125 education courses available on JewishGen. In 2017, 4,000 students took advantage of these classes.

JewishGen Establishes Miriam Weiner Routes To Roots Collection

Miriam Weiner and her Routes to Roots Foundation have donated to JewishGen her vast holdings of heretofore unavailable Jewish family records, name lists, archive inventories, maps and photographs from archives in Poland, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, and Romania. Weiner acquired this material in her more than 30 years of research—some of it onsite. The list is so vast, it cannot be summarized here. Instead go to for a more detailed list.

Plans call for placing online her two books:
   • Jewish Roots in Poland
   • Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova
Both are out of print.but availableon Amazon.

Weiner is one of the pioneers of contemporary Jewish genealogy. Possibly her greatest accomplishment was creation of an inventory of the Jewish record holdings in the archives of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. This was accomplished by numerous visits to the archives in these countries and cajoling the head archivists to create a list of their Jewish records. The results exist today at the Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation website at The search engine is at For each town, there is a description of what record types exist and where they are located. This site has many other features of interest to Jewish genealogists with roots in Eastern Europe.

Avotaynu to Publish Genealogies Created By Paul J. Jacobi
Avotaynu, in conjunction with the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, will publish in early 2019 the genealogies created by the late Paul J. Jacobi. The work is so extensive, it will be published in four volumes.

Jacobi spent nearly 45 years researching the genealogies of 484 leading Ashkenazic rabbinic families. A list of these families can be found at starting on page 16.

Mormons Don’t Want to Be Called “Mormons” Anymore
Russell T. Nelson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, often referred to as the “Mormon Church,” does not want his institution to be known anymore by the word “Mormon.” Instead it should be referred to by its full name “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” “Church of Jesus Christ,” or just the “Church.” Even the term “LDS Church” should be abandoned.

If implemented, the Church itself has a lot of work to do. Googling the word “Mormon” (excluding “Book of Mormon”) at the Church’s website ( there were 88,200 hits. Step #1 should be to change the URL of their website from to Will the Mormon Tabernacle Choir now become the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tabernacle Choir, or CJCLDSTC for short?

Articles about the proposed change can be found at and

JGS of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County Has Links to Genealogy Sites
The website of the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (California) has more than 100 links to websites of value to people researching their Jewish family history. They are divided into 24 categories, some of which are Blogs, Government Archives, Immigration and Naturalization and Military Records. The category “Blogs” includes links to 16 sites.

The list can be found at

Family Search Now Has Online New York Passenger Lists 1820–1957
First there was Castle Garden. Then there was Ellis Island. Now there is John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport. FamilySearch now has online New York Passenger Lists 1820–1957 in three separate collections:
   • New York Passenger Lists (Castle Garden) 1820–1891
   • New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island) 1892–1924
   • New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists 1925–1957

Additional information can be found at

Family Tree Magazine Publishes Annual Best Genealogy Websites
Each year Family Tree Magazine publishes its best websites for family history information and honors the individuals and organizations who create the sites. This year there are approximately 220 sites. Included are Avotaynu, JewishGen and One-Step Web Pages (Stephen Morse site). The list can be found at

USCIS Webinar on “Indexes to Alien Case Files (A-Files) at the National Archives
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will hold a webinar on Thursday, August 23 at 1 p.m. (Eastern) on “Indexes to Alien Case Files (A-Files) at the National Archives.” USCIS has transferred more than one million A-files to National Archives custody in Kansas City (Missouri) and San Francisco. Researchers can use the National Archives catalog and well-known genealogy research sites to search for files.

Are all the indexes the same? What information is included in each index? This webinar will discuss the index data and how to search various indexes to find an A-File at the National Archives. We will also discuss the role of the index in transferring A-Files to the Archives.

To attend, go to the USCIS History and Genealogy webpage at Click “Guide to I&N History: Thursday, August 23.” Click “Attend Session” just before the webinar start time at 1 p.m. (Eastern).

The webinar will not be recorded.

New ITS e-Guide Explains Nazi Documents
The International Tracing Service (ITS) has created an online tool to make it easier to understand the documents it possesses from concentration camps. As an example, these documents often have abbreviations and special marks. What do they stand for? With its new e-Guide, the ITS answers this question and offers broad contextual knowledge.

The new ITS online tool also describes historical backgrounds and answers fundamental questions such as, “Who issued this document and where was it used?” What is more, users can click on images of various types of cards to access the respective explanations.

Additional information is available at

A Case Study in Finding an Ancestral Town
JewishGen has some fabulous tools for finding ancestral towns. Here is a case study that exercises these tools. A man name Judel Cemnik came through Ellis Island in 1921 and indicated his home town was Paczujki, Poland. Using Google, there is no mention on the internet of such a town.

JewishGen has three tools to locate towns:
    • JewishGen Communities Database which has approximately 6,000 towns where Jews are known to have lived before the Holocaust
   • JewishGen Gazetteer, 1.8 million towns contacting all localities in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East; about 1.8 million locations
   • Search for places by location — Radius Search. This provides all towns with a certain radius of a given latitude/longitude.

All three tools can be accessed at

Step 1 was to see if Paczujki could be found in the JewishGen Communities Database using the phonetic search option. This produced no results.

Step 2 was to see if the JewishGen Gazetteer could help find the town. This produces 24 results. One seemed promising: Pochuyki, located in Belarus.

Step 3 was to use the knowledge that the Cemnik family appears to have its origins in Swiszlocz, Poland, now Svislach, Belarus. Using the JewishGen Search for places by location option, a search was done for all towns within 30 miles of Svislach that started with the letter “P.” Its latitude/longitude was obtained from the Communities Database. This produced the town of Pochuyki, Belarus, described in the previous paragraph.

Step 4 was to find the town using Google Maps at The town does not exist on Google Maps.

Step 5 was to Google “Pochuyki Belarus.” This produced a number of websites what show satellite images of the area that indicate the town likely no longer exists.

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail a check to Avotaynu Foundation,  794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515, USA. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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