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Avotaynu Black Friday Sale

Black Friday sale on Avotaynu books

It’s hard to do Jewish genealogy and not come across the books and other publications of Avotaynu, the long time publisher of books for Jewish family researchers as well as the publisher of their eponymous journal. While many printed publications have been overtaken by the Internet, many are just as useful today as when they were first printed. This is particularly true of the many books on names by Alexander Beider.

Avotaynu tries to estimate the total number of books it will sell to avoid doing re-prints, and as such they end up keeping many books in their warehouse. In order to cut down on their inventory they’re having a Black Friday sale (well, actually November 19-27, so more than a week) on many of their books. Of note, when these books sell out there are no plans to re-print them, so if you’ve been thinking about buying one of these books, this might be your last chance.

Avotaynu Black Friday Sale
Avotaynu Black Friday Sale

The books on sale are Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy, Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names, Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition, Jewish Personal Names, A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames, Russian-Jewish Given Names: Their Origins and Variants, Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition, A Practical Guide to Jewish Cemeteries, Every Family Has a Story, Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Jewry: 1909–1914. Births, bar mitzvahs, marriages, deaths and other records of Canadian Jewry, Library Resources for German-Jewish Genealogy, Jewish Vital Records, Revision Lists in the Lithuanian Archives, and Eliyahu’s Branches.

See the sale page for the specific discounts which range from 40% to 74% per book.

Note that you need to clock on the Order Now links on the sale page in order to get the discount. If you go to the regular order pages for the books it will charge you full price.

Lastly, I don’t get anything from Avotaynu for promoting this sale. I just like a lot of the books they have on sale, and I want people to know about maybe not being able to get them at a later date. You’re welcome to tell them you heard about the sale on this site, but I don’t benefit from any sales they make.

The Encyclopedia is now the Compendium

B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy

In 1991 two pioneers of Jewish genealogy, Arthur Kurzweil and Miriam Weiner, published the first volume of what was supposed to be a continuing series, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy, Volume 1: Sources in the United States and Canada. I don’t know how long it was in print. I have never read the book, so I cannot even tell you what is inside it, but as it pre-dates the Internet (or at least the public Internet that we all know today), it presumably deals with the archives and resources available in North America that one needed to visit in person to do family research.

I actually own other books that both Arthur Kurzweil and Miriam Weiner have published separately. The fact that Arthur Kurzweil’s From Generation to Generation is still in print after being originally published in 1980 illustrates its importance. Amazon tells me I bought a copy in 2009. I own both of Miriam Weiner’s Jewish Roots books – Jewish Roots in Poland and Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova. I probably bought Jewish Roots in Poland around the same time, as I recall Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova was already out of print and hard to find, and I see I was looking for a copy in 2010. After posting to a local genealogy group here in Israel, a generous person who no longer wanted the book gave me her copy. Weiner’s Jewish Roots books formed the basis of her Routes to Roots archive database. She later added information on Lithuania and Belarus as well, although only online.

It was in fact when I was corresponding with Miriam Weiner about her Routes to Roots archive database, that she mentioned her and Arthur Kurzweil’s book as having the same name as my site.

My first response was, frankly, terror. Putting aside that I had not known about a book by two important Jewish genealogists of whom I have an incredible amount of respect, and that I had used more or less the same name for my site, the thought of changing over 17,000 web pages was more than I could think about. While there is something to be said that the name is fairly generic, and I had always prepended B&F before Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy, after a night’s sleep I realized I could figure out how to change the site and the name, and there was no reason to keep the name if there was even the slightest chance it might cause confusion.

It’s not like I make money from the site, or have any kind of advertising for it. I never sold t-shirts with the logo, or otherwise put the name into print. My goal has always been first and foremost to help people, and I don’t need to keep a specific name to help people.

There are actually a limited number of words in the English language that convey a similar meaning to encyclopedia. At first I thought of almanac, although it connotes a connection to the calendar. Last year I had originally wanted to use the archaic word cyclopedia, of which I own the Century Cyclopedia of Names, but I opted for encyclopedia as clearer, and now it would be too close. While dictionary is sometimes used outside its word-defining purpose, it seemed wrong to me. To me that left only compendium, which is a collection of things, and could cover the large collection of resources I have organized.

Interestingly enough the word compendium is used in the title of a book by another Jewish genealogy pioneer – Malcolm Stern’s 1960 book Americans of Jewish descent; a compendium of genealogy. Then again, his title has similarities to the earlier The Compendium of American Genealogy, First Families of America (1925–1942) by Frederick Adams Virkus. In any case, there are only so many words, and I think this is different enough to be okay.

I managed to find a way to automatically (automagically?) change the URLs of the site (more than 17,000 of them), and I tried my best to change references on the site from Encyclopedia to Compendium. I obviously can’t change links on other sites that link to my site, however, if someone goes to an old link, the site will automatically change it to the new link. If you end up going to a page only to get an error message, let me know.

Please enjoy the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy.