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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 22, Number 8 | February 21, 2021

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.

IAJGS Participation at RootsTech Connect
The online conference, RootsTech Connect, starts this Thursday, February 25 and ends Saturday, February 27. To date more than 315,000 persons from more than 200 countries have registered. The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) will have a virtual booth at the conference. It will feature more than twenty, 5–20-minute presentations featuring Jewish genealogy topics. In addition, there will be five additional educational resources in French, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish.

There will be a Jewish genealogist available for a chat. Also available for download is a “Jewish Genealogy Quick Start Guide” and “Jewish Genealogy Research Tips.” You will also be able to explore resources from more than 90 Jewish Genealogical Societies around the world. If you are not able to attend during the three live days of the conference, the IAJGS virtual booth resources will be accessible for up to a year.

For more information and to register for free visit:

Upload Your DNA Data to MyHeritage and Get Free Access to All Its DNA Features
If you use DNA services such as 23andMe, Ancestry, or Family Tree DNA Family Finder, MyHeritage is offering a free upload of your data to the MyHeritage DNA database at no charge. Furthermore, for a limited time only (February 21–28) you will also get access to your Ethnicity Estimate, Genetic Groups and other advanced DNA tools provided by MyHeritage such as the Chromosome Browser, AutoClusters, and Theory of Family Relativity. These features will remain free forever for the DNA kits you upload to MyHeritage during this week.

Complete information can be found at

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU Is at the Printer
The Winter issue of our quarterly journal, AVOTAYNU, is at the printer. The lead story is by AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus, about Jewish family names. The Winter issue is our annual human-interest issue where we include articles about how genealogy has affected people’s lives. The titles of some of these stories include:
   • In Search of the Jewish Birth Father of a 95-Year-Old New Zealander
   • A Boy Without a Country; A Man Without a Past
   • Genealogy: My Game Changer
   • The Hasid and the Polish Prince: A Family Tale from 19th-Century Ukraine

Some topics covered in the issue are the annual IAJGS conference, locating towns in Eastern and Central Europe, 1870 U.S. census, crypto-Jews and yizkor books. All told, there are 14 articles plus the usual columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask Dr. Beider About Names, Book Reviews and From Our Mailbox.

The complete Table of Contents is at

If you do not subscribe to our journal AVOTAYNU, you can subscribe at

Wanted: More Brick Wall Cases for Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU
Starting with the Spring 2019 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 Spring 2021 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

13 Tips to Try When Your Family Tree Leaves You Stumped
There is yet another essay on how to get around brick walls, this time by FindMyPast. It is worth a glance, even if you are tired of reading articles on the subject. The first three suggestions are:
   • Re-examine everything
   • Explore all available sources
   • Try name variations

The article can be found at

JewishGen Plans a Pre-Purim FUNraising Event
Purim eve is February 25, and to celebrate this joyous holiday, JewishGen is having a “Pre-Purim FUNraising event.” Topics are:
   • You Know You Have Been a Jewish Genealogist Too Long When …
   • Weird and Funny Jewish Names
   • Odd Jewish Tombstones.
   • Interactive Game Show: Who Wants to Be a Levite. (See below for instructions to apply as a contestant).

The event is Tuesday, February 23 at 2pm Eastern Time, Registration is free, with a suggested donation. Signup today at

To apply as a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Levite,” email and include the following information: Name, where you family is from (country is sufficient), and whether you would be willing to dress as Haman or Vashti if required (just kidding). Skeletons in the closet or on your family tree preferred (not kidding). If selected, you will be notified by email by Sunday, February 21.

All contestants who are selected to appear on the program will receive a one-year value-added-services on JewishGen, a $100 value. See description of services at

IAJGS Adds Three New Groups to Its Membership Rolls
Three organizations have become members of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Santa Cruz (California) Jewish Genealogy Society specializes in hands-on mentoring workshops as well as regular meetings. For more information about the group, please contact the group’s president, Leah Kushner at

Gesher Galicia, Inc. is a non-profit organization carrying out Jewish genealogical and historical research on Galicia, formerly a province of Austria-Hungary and today divided between southeastern Poland and western Ukraine. For more information about Gesher Galicia, visit their website at or contact them at

LitvakSIG, Inc. has as its mission to preserve Litvak heritage by discovering, collecting, documenting and disseminating information about the once vibrant Jewish community of Lithuania. For more information about the organization, visit their website at or contact Garri Regev (Membership Chair) at

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) was formed in 1988 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. IAJGS is an umbrella group of organizations which provides a common voice for issues of significance to its members, to advocate for and educate about their genealogical avocation, and to coordinate items such as the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. For more information on IAJGS, please see their website at or contact them at

Library Archives Canada Resumes Copy Services and On-site Consultations in Ottawa
On February 22, as Ontario is easing health and safety restrictions, Library and Archives Canada will resume its copy services and gradually reopen the research and consultation rooms located at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver offices operate independently and offer limited services at this time.

Beginning on February 22, you will be able fill in the online form to make new copy requests. To place a new order, you will need to follow the step-by-step process shown in the announcement. On February 22, you will be able to access the online booking system to make new reservations for the week of March 8. Researchers who had reservations in January that were cancelled due to our closure will be contacted shortly to reschedule between February 23 and March 5.

For additional information, read the announcement at

National Library of Israel Reopens February 22
The National Library of Israel will reopen to the public on February 22 with seating available by advance reservation. You can reserve seats in any of the reading rooms.
Visits can take place during these two timeframes:
   • Reading Rooms: Music, Gershom Scholem, between 09:00–12:00, 13:00–16:00
   • Reading Rooms: Judaica-Islam, Humanities, Special Collections, Reference Computers, between: 09:00–13:00, 14:00–18:00.

The announcement can be found at

FamilySearch Announces No New Records This Week
As happens occasionally, FamilySearch elected not to announce this week new additions to its collection.

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
Pennsylvania. Obituary and Marriage Records, 1947–2010
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Deaths, 1870–1905

Updated Collections
Boston, Massachusetts, Marriages, 1700–1809
Washington, D.C., Compiled Marriages, 1826–1850
New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861–1900
Hillsdale County, Michigan, Farm Directory, 1919–1924

Do You Subscribe to AVOTAYNU?
Each year AVOTAYNU publishes more than 300 pages of useful, interesting information about Jewish family history research that can help you in your research. Now in its 36th year, an index to the first 24 volumes is available to all the major articles.

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. 
Some institutions are U.S. National Archives, U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Leo Baeck Institute,  Yad Vashem and  Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People.

Subscribe now at

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