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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 21, Number 41 | October 11, 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.

Online Meetings of Jewish Genealogical Societies
Provide Rare Educational Opportunities

One of the few benefits of the pandemic that is shaking the world is that many organizations have elected to hold their events online rather than in person. Jewish Genealogical Societies are no exception. Nearly all now have their month meetings/lectures online and some have made them available to the public, not just their members.

Typical is the Jewish Genealogy Society of Southern Nevada who will hold a Zoom meeting at 1pm (PDT) on October 18 with the lecture being “Finding Your Eastern European Jewish Family on JRI-Poland.” The lecturer is Robinn Magid, Assistant Director of JRI-Poland. There is no charge for non-members, but a donation is encouraged. Information about how to attend the session is at

The lecturers need not be even local to the society. In February, Avotaynu co-owners, Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus will be interviewed by the Orange County (California) Jewish Genealogical Society on Zoom. I live in Connecticut; Sallyann lives in New Hampshire. The meeting is free to members and $5 to non-members. Additional information is at

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies ought to consider regularly publishing upcoming lectures of their member societies and encourage all societies to provide free public access.

Proceedings on Conference on “Tracing and Documenting Nazi Victims Past and Present”
In October 2018, more than one hundred experts from twelve different countries gathered in Bad Arolsen, Germany, to discuss the history and the working methods of the Arolsen Archives (formerly known as the International Tracing Service, ITS) as well as those of other tracing services and documentation centers. The title of the conference was “Tracing and Documenting Nazi Victims Past and Present.”

Speakers included such persons as the late Zvi Bernhardt, then Deputy Director of Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names and Reference and Information Department; Linda G. Levi, Director of Global Archives at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Diane F. Afoumado, Chief of the Research and Reference Branch at the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The “Proceedings” can be downloaded or purchased in book form at Additional information about the event is at

IGRA Planning All-Day Session on Hidden Children of the Holocaust
The Hebrew month of Cheshvan (this year, October 19–November 16) is International Jewish Genealogy Month. In recognition of this event, the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) is holding a seminar on "The Hidden Child in the Holocaust.” The first three sessions are in Hebrew and the second three are in English.

Additional information can be found at

New York City Wants Licensing Fee for Use of Public Records
The New York City Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) is proposing changes to how researchers can use public records obtained from the Municipal Archives (including birth, marriage, and death records). DORIS operates under New York City’s rules and has an existing practice which requires licensing fees when reproducing materials from its holdings. Proposed changes to these rules modify the language to mandate licensing fees when using these public records for educational, scholarly, non-profit and media use.

This would mean if a genealogist wanted to include such a document when publishing their family history in book form, a licensing fee would apply. If you added New York City documents to your online family tree, you would have to pay the licensing fee.

My immediate reaction is it is unenforceable.
   • If two historians share documents gotten from DORIS, how will DORIS know?
   • If DORIS discovers a death certificate on a published family tree, how will it know the document was not acquired prior to the ruling?

Additional information about the planned ruling can be found at

FamilySearch Adds 14M Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 14M index records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Sweden, United States and Zambia.

The reason for the unusually high number of records this week is the inclusion of nearly 9M church records from Germany and Mexico. It also includes more than 4.25M additions to its Find A Grave 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.

New Collections
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., Tax Records, 1822–1918
Worcester County, Massachusetts, U.S., Probate Files, 1731–1925

Updated Collections
Pennsylvania, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1800–1962
U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918
U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863–1865

Every Family Has a Story
72 articles that have appeared in our journal, AVOTAYNU, each story focusing on the human side of genealogy—how genealogists have been personally affected by their research and how the research of genealogists has affected others.

Some stories will make you laugh, others will make you cry. Some will shock you, others will make you feel warm inside.

Addtional informaton, including an annottated Table of Contents plus a sample story, can be found at  


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