Avotaynu is an organization that was founded in 1985 by two eminent researchers in the field of Jewish genealogy, Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack. Avotaynu means "our fathers" or "our ancestors" in Hebrew, and the original purpose of the organization was to publish a journal on Jewish genealogical research. AVOTAYNU: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy has been published quarterly since 1985. In 1991, Avotaynu began publishing books as well. Between 1991 and 2003, Avotaynu published 26 books on Jewish genealogical research, including:
Where Once We Walked, 1991, a gazetteer of 22,000 towns where Jews lived before the Holocaust
How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust, 1995
Index to The German Minority Census of 1939, microfilmed by the Family History Library, 1996
Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy, 2000
History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, 2000
The Avotaynu website (http://www.avotaynu.com) also hosts the Consolidated Jewish Surname Index at www.avotaynu.com/csi/csi-home.html. The Consolidated Jewish Surname Index has information on 500,000 different surnames from 34 different databases; it is a consortium allowing you to search multiple databases with one search. One of the best things about the database is that it employs the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System, a Soundex system designed to accommodate Jewish surnames.
Another premiere internet resource for Jewish genealogical research is JewishGen at www.jewishgen.org. The website started in 1995, and in 2003 it became a division of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York (www.mjhnyc.org). Some of the databases on JewishGen include:
The Family Tree of the Jewish People, a lineage-linked database listing more than 2.5 million ancestors contributed in family trees by more than 2,000 people
Shtetl Seeker, a database of 500,000 Jewish towns in Central and Eastern Europe (the database can help you track towns even through boundary changes and name changes)
Aufbau Survivors Lists, a database containing the names of 33,000 Holocaust survivors published in the German-language newspaper Aufbau, New York, 1944-1946
The Yizkor Book Project, a database that preserves Yizkor books, which were written by groups of Holocaust survivors to honor and preserve the memories of their friends, family members, and neighbors who were killed during the Holocaust.
There are also discussion groups, burial registries, and message boards hosted on this vast website.