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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 20, Number 29 | August 4, 2019

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.

Ancestry Partners with Arolsen Archives to Place Holocaust Records Online
Ancestry has partnered with Arolsen Archives to place online records and an index of two records groups:
   • Africa, Asia & Europe Passenger Lists of Displaced Persons (1946–1971), 1.7 million records and 300K images.
   • Europe, Registration of Foreigners & German Individuals Persecuted (1939–1947), 9.97 million records and 900K images.

These new records will be accessible globally to the public—members and non- members alike—on a permanent basis at

This announcement is momentous because it is the first time—to my knowledge—that the Archives has partnered with another entity to allow them to digitize and index their records. It represents a growing trend by the Arolsen Archives to make their records available to the public on the internet. Ancestry indicated that these records will also be donated to Arolsen Archives and to the 11-nation International Commission of digital copy holders of the Archives to post on their website as well. These include Yad Vashem in Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

The announcement can be found at

JewishGen Has a New Home Page
JewishGen has redesigned its home page. It is likely to be a prelude to a substantial overhaul to the design of the site. The organization claims the new design is more intuitive and user-friendly; is mobile- responsive; and has a more familiar platform, which will make it easier for the organization to find qualified consultants, contractors and volunteers to help them in the future.

While JewishGen attracted approximately one million unique visitors last year, only a small portion of this group actually registered or became regular users. The organization anticipates that the new look will improve these results.

Old timers used to the old format of the home page can get the dropdown menus of the original layout by clicking “Search” at the top of the screen.

JewishGen is located at

Reclaim The Records Continues Fight for Access to
New York City Death Certificates 1949–1968

Reclaim The Records (RTR) has filed a request for copies of the 1.6 million New York City death certificates 1949–1968, and the city’s government is fighting back. The request was made under the New York State Freedom of Information Law. The city has filed a motion for dismissal providing a number of reasons including that the request was not filed on a timely basis. A motion for dismissal is a request that the court reject the suit on grounds it is invalid.

RTR is also asking the courts to strike down the city's new rules on birth and death record access. Birth records are in the public domain only after 125 years; death certificates after 75 years. RTR notes that this recent change was made even with the written and in-person objections of 6000+ members of the public. RTR states that not even one single member of the public wrote or spoke in favor of it.

Background about the request can be found at posts/1255230604628082. Additional information about the request can be found at

23andMe Genetic Testing is Tax Deductible
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has ruled the health portion of 23andMe’s ancestry and genetics test is tax deductible because it constitutes medical care. Of the $199 cost, up to $117.74 of the total cost is deductible.

Additional information can be found at decided-that-23andme-tests-count-as-medical-care/.

JewishGen Memorial Plaques Database Now Has 190,000 Records
Nolan Altman, JewishGen Vice President for Data Acquisition, has announced that the Memorial Plaques Database now has 135,300 photographs from 356 synagogues, institutions and memorials representing 37 countries.

The plaques, typically placed on the walls of synagogues, includes the decedent’s secular name and usually religious name (including patronymic), date of death and sometime date of birth.

The database can be accessed at

Blood & Frogs Website Now Includes Polish Archives Contact List
The Blood & Frogs website now includes a “Polish State Archives Contact List.” It also includes contact information for other archives in Poland. For each of the identified 78 institutions there is physical address, phone number (click to dial from a mobile phone), email address, web site, a link to the list of records in that archive, a link to the branch description, and a Facebook page if present. The site is located at

The site is managed by Philip Trauring of Israel. Just last week, Trauring received the IAJGS “Outstanding Resource Award” for his website.

The best-known database at the Blood & Frogs site is its Compendium of Jewish Genealogy which provides more than 25,000 links to online Jewish genealogy resources in countries throughout the world. Some countries have been divided into sub-regions when necessary. For country and province topics there are currently nine potential sections of resources: history, genealogy, cemeteries, Holocaust, diaspora, contemporary, military, newspapers and books. For cities, which currently only exist for Poland, there is also an additional section called “General,” which provides general (i.e., non-specifically Jewish) links for the city.

Genealogy Basics Chapter 2: Build a Family Tree in Six Steps
MyHeritage has published its second chapter on Genealogy Basics which focuses on building a family tree. With so much information to learn, share, and preserve, how do you know what details to focus on when building your family tree? MyHeritage recommends starting with the following:
   • Name and surname
   • Dates and Location in Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
   • Education
   • Occupation
   • Dates and location of immigration
   • Physical characteristics

Each element is discussed in detail in the essay which can be found at

Chapter 1, which discusses how to interview relatives, can be found at

RootsTech 2020 to Be Held February 26–29
RootsTech 2020 will be held February 26–29 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. It will be the 10th anniversary of the conference. The event originally started as GenTech, a meeting of genealogy technology creators who would gather to share information and thoughts on how to advance the technological aspect of genealogy. In 2011, it was taken over by FamilySearch who changed the conference name to RootsTech and, in addition to providing a venue for the technological community, it included lectures and other events commonplace in genealogical conferences.

This year RootsTech is expanding to international borders beginning with the United Kingdom in 2019. RootsTech will host an event in London from October 24–26 at the ExCeL London Convention Centre.

Information about RootsTech can be found at asked-questions.

German Towns Database Grows to More Than 37K Records
In the 1960s, the International Tracing Service (now named Arolsen Archives) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, wrote letters to mayors and other officials of West German counties and towns requesting lists of Jewish inhabitants in 1933 and the fate of these Jews, if known. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has added to its Holocaust Survivors and Victims database digitized documents and 37,476 names from the project which is known as “The German Towns Project.”

This is an ongoing activity. As of the July 2019 update, there are 178 towns listed.

You can search/request and immediately receive digital copies of the original documents in your email. Search at

Five Million Britons to Receive Free DNA Tests
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the UK National Health Service will offer five million Britons free DNA tests to help predict their risk of major diseases. Individuals will be able to volunteer to receive personalized reports based on the DNA analysis. The project is a £79 million government investment with an additional £160 million from charities and businesses to support research on early diagnosis, prevention and disease treatment.

Additional information can be found at

Some Jewish Cemeteries in Eastern Europe Being Restored
Jewish Heritage Europe has provided a status report on a number of Jewish cemeteries in Europe that are in the process of being cleaned up. They are:
   • Belarus: Belynichy, Beshenkovichi, Derechin, Krucha, Mir, Mogilev
   • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Tuzla
   • Czech Republic: Holesov
   • Hungary: Budapest
   • Lithuania: Vistytis
   • Netherlands: Deventer
   • Poland: Bakałarzewo, Bialystok, Częstochowa, Grybow, Kanczuga-Siedleczka,
Krośniewice, Krzepice, Lodz, Oswiecim, Przerosl, Sędziszow Malopolski, Szczebrzeszyn, Tarnow, Wroclaw
   • Ukraine: Chernivtsi, Rohatyn

A more detailed description of the clean-up effort in each town spans two postings: and

MyHeritage Featured on Dr. Phil
Last December, U.S. television personality Dr. Phil welcomed MyHeritage consultant Yvette Corporon to his show to reveal previously unknown details about his family history. Recently, he again invited MyHeritage to the show to do the same for his wife of 41 years, Robin McGraw.

The episode can be viewed at &

New MyHeritage Record Collections Added in July
In July, more than 27 million records from four new collections were added to the MyHeritage system. They are:
   • Australia Electoral Rolls, 1893—1949
   • Quebec Marriage Returns, 1926—1997
   • Honolulu, Hawaii Passenger Lists, 1900—1953
   • Baltimore, Maryland Passenger Lists, 1891-1943

The announcement can be found at /new-record-collections-added-in-july-2019/.

New Collections at
Ancestry has added/updated the following record groups at their site. The list with links to individual collections can be found at Announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. There is also no indication of how many records were added to the updated collections.

New Collections
Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939–1947
Africa, Asia and Europe, Passenger Lists of Displaced Persons, 1946–1971

Updated Collections
Netherlands, Population Registers Index, 1720–1944
Netherlands, Baptism Index, 1557–1902
Netherlands, Marriage Index, 1575–1938
Netherlands, Death Index, 1795–1969
Netherlands, Birth Index, 1784–1917
Netherlands, Newspaper Announcements Index, 1795–1945
Netherlands, Dutch East India Company Crew Index, 1633–1795
Netherlands, Burial Index, 1540–1899
Australia and New Zealand, Obituary Index, 2004–Current

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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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