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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 21, Number 8 | February 23, 2020

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.

What Is a “Portuguese” Jew?
The title of the latest work by Alexander Beider published by Avotaynu is A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Italy, France and “Portuguese” Communities. Exactly what is meant by “Portuguese”? According to Dr. Beider this is not a term he invented, but one used by historians to mean former Marranos who, after migrations to the territories where Judaism was tolerated, became openly Jewish, as well as their descendants. What is a Marrano? For the purposes of his book, Dr. Beider states a Marrano is an inhabitant of the Iberian Peninsula or territories belonging to the Spanish or Portuguese crowns who, though officially Catholic, professed some elements of Judaism secretly.

These “Portuguese” Jews either initiated local Jewish communities (Amsterdam, London, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Danzig, Livorno, several places in southwestern France including Bayonne and Bordeaux and a number of Caribbean Islands) or met other Jews who lived there already (certain cities in Italy).

The book is 882 pages, hardcover. Cost is $89.00 plus shipping. It can be ordered at The website also includes a complete list of names, a sample entry from the dictionary (the surname Modigliano) and the Table of Contents.

MyHeritage in Color Attracts More Than 1M Photos
In the first five days since MyHeritage announced it was offering free colorization of photos, more than a million photos have been colorized, according to the company. It us particularly poignant to colorize the photos of Holocaust victims. It gives them an element of life. Pictured to the right: Members of the Mokotow family of Przedecz, Poland, all murdered in the Holocaust. Click on picture for larger image.

Jerry Zeisler, a Nu? What’s New subscriber, notes there is another site that offers colorizing at no charge: colorize-photos. If the MyHeritage results are less than expected, try this second site. It uses its own colorizing rules and might produce superior results.

The MyHeritage announcement can be found at

"You've Got DNA Matches!"
Hal Bookbinder’s latest essay on Practicing Safe Computing (#52) is titled "You've Got DNA Matches!" The article shares a way to efficiently but meaningfully reach out to these potential family members. Bookbinder suggests a form letter he feels might motivate people to respond to your inquiry. He says his response rate is about 15%. He notes if you have submitted your DNA to one site, be sure to upload the results to the other sites to expand your potential matches.
A link to the article, as well as other articles he has written, can be found at

Final Day for Special AVOTAYNU Subscription Offer
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU is at the printer and likely will be mailed toward the end of this week. Today is the last day we are making the special offer of five issues of AVOTAYNU for the price of four—the Winter issue plus the four issues of 2020. The cost of a five-issue subscription is only $38.00—the cost of a four-issue subscription—instead of $45.00, a $7 saving. Non-U.S./Canada subscribers can subscribe for only $46 instead of $56, a $10 saving.

You will receive the Winter issue when it is in print, and all four issues of 2020 as they are published. The offer expires today Sunday, February 23. Go to to place your order.

FamilySearch Adds 13M Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, about 13M index records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from American Samoa, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Nova Scotia, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela, Wales and numerous states of the United States.

The usually large number are because of the addition of Philippines Deaths and Burials, 1726–1957 (3,108,218 records) and Philippines Marriages, 1723–1957 (3,065,662 records).

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.

New Collections
Virginia, African American Funeral Programs, 1935–2009

Updated Collections
Virginia, Divorce Records, 1918–2014
Virginia, Birth Records, 1912–2015, Delayed Birth Records, 1721–1911
Virginia, Death Records, 1912–2014
World War II Young American Patriots, 1941–1945
1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules
1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules
Web: Ireland, Census, 1901
U.S. City Directories, 1822–1995
U.S. Virgin Islands, Danish West Indies Slave Records, 1672–1917

Attend the 40th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

Visit the website at

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