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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 20, Number 30 | August 11, 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.

Index to Toronto Jewish Vital Records Now Online
Bill Gladstone is a professional genealogist and Book Review Editor for AVOTAYNU. He recently posted to his website,, an index to Toronto births, marriages and deaths.

Gladstone states that he compiled the indexes for his own use after realizing that existing indexes contained many errors because the handwritten originals are hard to read and were typically transcribed by people with little knowledge of Jewish first or last names. “Too often I couldn’t find a record because the surname had been terribly mangled,” said Gladstone. “It happened enough times that I decided I needed my own indexes.”

The index of some 6,000 birth records ranges from 1906 to 1917, the last year for which the records are not subject to privacy restrictions. The marriage records range from 1905 to 1936, the death records from 1939 to 1942. There is no charge to access the index.

The marriage index also contains some 400 records from the registers of Rabbi Y. L. Graubart, who led the city’s main Polish-Jewish congregation in the 1920s and 1930s. The Graubart records are especially significant because they give the specific birthplaces of both bride and groom.

Finding Your Roots Extended Through Fall 2020
The PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will start its sixth season October 8 at 8 pm ET. The season will span from Fall 2019 through Fall 2020. The show will premiere with two new episodes followed by five encore presentations of the series. Season six will return in early 2020 with eight weeks of new episodes featuring both new guests and re-mixed thematic combinations of former participants’ stories. Then the program returns in Fall 2020 with six additional new episodes showcasing new and re-mixed episodes.

Details about each portion of the season, including celebrities whose roots will be explored can be found at

Wanted: Brick Wall Cases for Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
Starting with the Spring issue of AVOTAYNU, we initiated a column titled “Brick Walls.” In it, readers presented seemingly insurmountable problems in their family history research. Our team of experts were able to assist some in getting around these “brick walls.”
We are now working on the Fall issue of AVOTAYNU. We would like to continue to run the “brick wall” feature and invite people to send us their favorite, most pesky problem. Then we will secondarily invite readers (and outside experts) to offer suggestions. With so much online these days, it is easy to think that genealogy is a piece of cake, but we know the reality is that a fair number of seemingly intractable problems are still hanging around. Send your problem to

Latest Prices for Autosomal DNA Testing
Declaring them Summer sales, most DNA testing services are offering discounts. Here are their prices.

23andMe. $99. This is the regular price.
Ancestry. $59. Expires August 26.
Family Tree DNA. $59. Ends August 31. Also discounts on paternal and maternal ancestry tests.
MyHeritage. $59. Ends August 12.

Arolsen Archives Adds Passenger Lists Digitized and Indexed by Ancestry
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? noted that Ancestry partnered with Arolsen Archives (formerly known as the International Tracing Service) to digitize and index two record sets:
   • 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.

They are available at the Ancestry site at at no charge in perpetuity.

As could be anticipated, Arolsen Archives has now announced the Passenger List collection is now available at their site It can be expected that the other collection will be made available at the Arolsen site in the near future.

Polish State Archives Moving Its Website
There is a down side to “upgrades.” Invariably, features that were in the older system are dropped from the newer one. Adding capability often makes the system harder to use. An example of the latter exists in the version of Microsoft Word that I use. Previously, spell checking was one click of the mouse. This function has now been integrated with grammar checking and now requires two clicks of the mouse.

Philip Trauring is waving a caution flag at the plans for the Polish State Archives to move its site from to For example, Trauring notes, “As it currently stands, the new site cannot do the same kinds of searches as the old site.” He states the new site is more complex. In the older system, if you wanted to send someone to look at a specific fond on the site, it was fairly easy to do. Now it is more complex.

His full comments can be found at his blog: At the recently held IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, Trauring recently received the IAJGS Outstanding Resource Award for his Blood & Frogs website.

JewishGen Offers Belarus Class
JewishGen will offer a three-week course “Research in Belarus” September 6 - September 27. It covers the modern boundaries of Belarus and includes parts of the former Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

This is a personal mentoring class held on a private JewishGen Forum. Students work one-on-one with the instructor. Students should have 8–10 hours per week to read the lessons, search online and interact with the instructor. The class is open 24/7.

Students must feel comfortable using the computer for database searches. Tuition is $150.

Enroll at Enrollment is limited and registration will close when the course is full.

MyHeritage Donates Thousands More DNA Kits to Adoptees and Their Families
Launched in March 2018, DNA Quest is a MyHeritage pro bono initiative to reunite adoptees and their birth families through genetic testing. MyHeritage donated thousands of DNA kits to eligible participants, and they continue to receive inquiries about the project on an ongoing basis.

In March 2019, the company extended DNA Quest and pledged to donate thousands of additional MyHeritage DNA kits, at no charge, to eligible participants. In the second round of DNA Quest, the company received more than 4,000 applications from people in 69 countries around the world. For participants of the new round of DNA Quest, DNA results can be expected as early as August 2019. Participants will discover their DNA Matches from the entire MyHeritage DNA database, which currently comprises more than 3 million people.

Persons who have tested with another DNA company, can upload their DNA data to MyHeritage at no charge. Once the data has been processed, participants will receive DNA matches that might lead to finding additional family.

The announcement can be found at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 2 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 2 million indexed records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Germany, South Africa and the United States, including Kansas, Alabama.

More than half the additions are to the Brazil, Bahia, Passenger Lists, 1855–1964 collection.

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.

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.

Updated Collections
Australia and New Zealand, Find A Grave Index, 1800s–Current
Brazil, Find A Grave Index for Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, UK and Ireland
Montana, State Deaths, 1907–2016
Morelos, Mexico, Civil Registration Deaths, 1865–1916
Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Civil Registration Marriages, 1859–1960

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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