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General Bio-Bibliographical Works

(H) = Hebrew, (E) = English, (G) = German, (Y) = Yiddish, (F) = French, (R) = Russian, (P) = Polish

To locate resources, see How to Locate Rabbinic Information Sources in Libraries and Archives.

  • Abramowitz, Mayer S. Khakhmei Yisroel of New England: Pictorial History of the New England Orthodox Rabbinate. Worcester, MA: Nathan Stolnitz Archives, 1991. (E)
  • Ashkenazi, Shlomoh. Dorot Beyisrael. Don, 1975.(H)
  • Azulai, Chayyim Josef David (the Khidah/CHIDA, 1724-1806). Shem HaGedolim (Fame of the Great Rabbis). Livorno, 1774. (H)
    • Short biographical information on 1,500 selected rabbis over a wide period of time, and with no apparent criteria for inclusion. Brief genealogical information. The books comprise two sections: alphabetical biographies and lists of the books authored by the rabbis. The book list is useful to identify rabbis who may be referred to in other sources by the name of their composition alone. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1].
    • In 1852, Isaac Benjacob rearranged this work into two parts, an alphabetic listing of all authors and a separate sorted listing of all the works. This arrangement enables the reader to find information offered by Azulai for a specific author or work under a single entry. This book is helpful to the genealogist when trying to find the author of a given book, or vice versa. [David Einsiedler]
    • See also:  Walden, Shem HaGedolim HeKhadash.
    • Learn more about the author and this work.
  • Beilinsohn, Moshe Eliezer. Megilat Yukhsin, Shlomei Emunei Yisrael. Odessa, 1863, 1890’s.(H)
    • A series of booklets providing very detailed genealogical material for mainly Belarus rabbinical families. Arranged as coded lists or as box charts. Since the author included all the members of a family known to him, this is a valuable source not only for rabbis, but also for their non-rabbinic descendants. A rare and exceedingly valuable source which may be difficult to locate. Principle families include Heilprin, Luria, Beilinson, Katz, Maharal of Prague, Raskin, Gunzburg, Mirkin, Rozenberg, Reichenstein, Dubnov, Tumarkin, Vilda, Kisin, Alexandrov, Margolis, Simchovitch, Ettinger, Brauda, Sirkin, Frumkin, Kazarnovsky, Freides, Zeitlin. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Braverman, M. Anshei Shem. Warsaw, 1892.(H)
    • Biographies of selected rabbis arranged alphabetically by Hebrew first name until the letter Lamed. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Cohen, Yitskhak Yosef. Khakhmei Transylvania (Sages of Transylvania). Tel Aviv, 1983. (H)
    • Community and biographic information. A source recommended by Rabbi Meir Wunder. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Dembitzer, Rabbi Chayim Natan. Klilath Yofi. Krakow, 1888, 1893. (H)
    • It professes to describe the rabbis of Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg), but encompasses all the rabbis related and connected in one way or another with the rabbis of Lviv, a total of some 30,000 rabbis. It is for the experienced reader who has mastered rabbinic language. Most reliable. It contains a good alphabetic list of the rabbis by their given name. It was reprinted in 1968 in New York by HaMachon l’Cheker Baayoth HaYahaduth HaCharedith and edited by Rabbi Yakov Dov Mandelboim. [Comment by Dr. Yehuda Klausner]
    • When it was first published it was reviewed by none other than Solomon Schechter. Although he disagreed with some vehemence on some of Dembitzer's opinions, he pointed out that it is an extremely useful and important work. As an example of how much more was there than merely related to Lviv (Lwow, Lemberg), he observed that it has a complete listing of the rabbis of Amsterdam. I have also found an extensive discussion there of the Vienna exiles of 1675, including correspondence with Professor David Kauffman of Budapest who was a major expert on the topic. [Comment by Rabbi Avrohom Marmorstein]
    • Learn more about the author.
  • Efrati, David. Toldot Anshei Shem. Warsaw, 1875.(H)
    • One of the earliest nineteenth century rabbinical genealogies. Traces the descendants of a number of prominent rabbis and provides copious notes with interconnecting genealogical material. Unindexed, merits lengthy and careful study. The book is arranged as a main text entitled Arzei Banim (Cedars of the Sons), with extensive footnotes entitled Ateret Zekeinim (Crown of the Elders). In the main text the author records five primogenitors of his major ancestral lines: Yehuda Yesod of Vilna, Yom Tov Heller Tosfot Yom Tov, Yehudah Leib Maharal of Prague, Moshe Kremer of Vilna, and Shaul Wahl-Katzenellenbogen. Each of these five lines is expanded in the footnotes which list all descendants traced by the author. These notes, which are printed in Rashi script, provide a considerable volume of details, clearly listing sons and sons-in-law with their subsequent descendants, including places of residence. In the main no dates are given. Since Efrati’s work was written comparatively early, it can be considered a primary source of later works, such as Daat Kedoshim, which further expanded these families. The major families include: Ashkenazi, Berlin, Efrati, Eizenstadt, Eliasberg, Eliash, Epstein, Gaon of Vilna, Gunzburg, Heller, Horowitz, Katz, Katzenellenbogen, Klausner, Landau, Levin, Lipshutz, Luria, Maharal of Prague, Mirels, Rapaport, Ratner, Rivlin, Simchovitch, Shapira, Shick, Shneurson, Teumim, Vitkind, and Zukerman, with connections to many other living particularly in Eastern Europe. Additional notes by Efrati include sources located after publication which expand particularly the Katzenellenbogen family. Some brief biographical material is unique. This is a highly recommended source requiring painstaking study of the many footnotes. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Efrati, Eliezer. Dor Vedorshav. Vilna, 1889.(H)
    • Selected biographies of 66 rabbis whose first names begin with the letter Alef. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]

  • Ehrlikh, Yisrael. Shevet mi-Yehudah: Nerot neshamah li-yeme zikaron ule-et-sefod li-shelumei-emunei-Yisrael mi-dor-dor. Tel Aviv: Hotsa’at Morashah, 1997. (H)
    • The surname index refers to the book’s listings of rabbis and their yahrzeit, or death date.
  • Eisenstadt, Benzion.
    • Dor rabanav ve-sofrav. Warsaw-Vilna: Halter-Eisenstadt, 1895-1903. (H)
    • Doroth ha-aharonim. A. H. Rosenberg, 1913-15, 1936-41.(H)
    • Khakhmei Yisrael Beamerica. (H)
    • A series of books comprising rabbinical biographies, mainly in Europe and America. There is a reprinted version in which the individual books have been bound together. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Eisenstadt, Benzion. Otsar ha-temunot (A Treasury of Photographs). New York: Pinsky, 1915. (H)
  • Entsiklopediyah ha-Hasidut. Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1980-1986. Vol. 1-2. (H)
    • Vol. 1 is a bibliography of books by Hasidic authors, while Vol. 2 consists of brief but documented sketches of rebbes. Discontinued after reaching the Hebrew letter Tet in the alphabetic order, which is by first names. [F4]
  • Federbusch, S. (ed.). Khokhmat Yisrael be-maarav Eyropa. Jerusalem: M. Neuman 1958-65. 3 Vols. Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1980-1986.(H)
  • Freedman, Chaim. Beit Rabbanan: Sources of Rabbinic Genealogy. Petah Tikva, Israel: self-published, 2001. (E)
    • A survey of 130 Hebrew sources for rabbinical genealogical research, including sections on methodology, terminology, and historical and sociological background of rabbinic genealogy.
  • Friedman, Rabbi Natan Tsvi. Otsar HaRabanim (A Treasury of Rabbis). Tel Aviv: M. Greenberg Printing Press, 1975. (H)
    • An anthology of about 20,000 rabbis over the period 970-1970 C.E. Although the book includes a considerable number of rabbis and scholars, and it may be assumed that the author made every effort to trace the rabbis mentioned in many sources, the names of some rabbis are omitted. There appears to be no discernible pattern to these omissions and it can be assumed that the author was not able to exhaustively cover all sources. Each entry is coded for the rabbi in question, his father, father-in-law, sons and sons-in-law. Cross reference enables the construction of family trees. Otsar HaRabanim is a good first reference work. It points to a direction for research. But one must realize that not only does it omit people, it has errors. It is notorious for confusing people bearing the same name. One can trace an ancestry line back through its reference numbers and end up at the same place one started. These circular pathways are well known to researchers. Although it has an index, the alphabetical order is not strictly adhered to which necessitates a complete scan of the index to ensure that a person is not missed. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F2]
  • Fuenn, Shemuel Josef. Kneset Yisrael. Warsaw: Baumritter, 1886. (H)
  • Gottlieb, Shemu’el Noah ben Dov-Ber. Sefer Ohalei Shem: yekhalkel toldotehem ve-adres’otehem shel rabanei ir va-ir, medinah u-medinah. Pinsk: M. M. Glauberman, 1912. (Reprinted Jerusalem: Tefutsah, 1983?) (H)
    • A unique book whose structure is based on biographies of rabbis (1,500 of them) who held rabbinical positions at the time of the writing of the book in 1912. Arranged by country and city, each entry includes genealogical and source material for further research. Most of the information was supplied to the author by the rabbis themselves in reply to the author’s request for information. As a result the volume and quality of the material varies considerably. An essential source to be considered in all rabbinical genealogical research. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F2]
  • Greenbaum, Avraham. Rabanei Berit ha-Mo'atsot ben milhamot ha-'olam, 1917-1939 (Rabbis of the Soviet Union During the Inter-war Period). Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Centre for Research and Documentation of East European Jewry, 1994.(H)
    • Meant to add new material to the burgeoning study of Soviet Jewry and to show how rabbis functioned under persecution. [F4]
  • Hakohen/Kohn, Naftali Yaakov (1884-). Otsar Hagedolim Alufei Yaakov. 1966-1969.(H)
    • Rabbi Meir Wunder's description and review of this book was published in Yad Lekoreh 9, 1969, booklet D, pp.193-195. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Halahmi, David. Hakhmei Yisrael: toldot hayehem shel gedole Yisrael ba-elef hashishi (Encyclopedia of Distinguished Jews during the Last Generations). 3d ed. Bnei Brak: Mishor, 1990.
    • First published in 1958 and since then reprinted twice. It includes rabbis and rebbes (Hasidic leaders) from 1240 on, in chronological order by death dates. Includes 1,500 persons who fit his criteria, with short but useful biographical sketches and, where possible, dates of birth and death. His purpose is to show continuity and to rescue these teachers from oblivion after the destruction of their communities. [F4]
  • Halperin (Heilprin), Rafael. Atlas ets-hayim (Atlas of the Tree of Life). Tel Aviv: Hekdesh Ruah Ya'akov, 1980-1985. Vol. 1-14. (published progressively) (H)
    • Multi-volume work covering the period from Biblical times until the present. Groups rabbis by country/region and scholastic affiliation. The information is presented in several ways, lists with short biographies, graphic charts showing each rabbi in relation to his major teacher, and familial connections. There are lists of the books authored by the rabbis, a most useful means of identifying rabbis who may be referred to in other sources simply by the title of their composition. Each volume has separate genealogical charts for selected families. A very handy reference work, although the charts are often difficult to follow. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Heilprin, Yekhiel. Seder Hadorot. Warsaw, 1862; Jerusalem, 1956.(H)
    • Extensive anthology of rabbis and scholars from biblical times. Includes genealogical information but rarely beyond two to three generations. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Heimann, Joseph Michael. Or ha-khayyim. Frankfort: J. Kauffmann, 1891.(H)
  • Kagan, Berl. Sefer Haprenumeranten (Hebrew Subscription Lists). Jewish Theological Seminary of America and KTAV, 1975. (H)
    • Berel Kagan’s Sefer Haprenumeranten, known in English as Hebrew Subscription Lists, is an index by town of about eight hundred books covering eight thousand towns. Prenumeranten is a Yiddish term meaning “prior numbers”. It refers to people who ordered copies of a book before its
      publication and whose names were listed in the book. Lists exist for most towns in Europe. Subscribers from small villages often were listed under the name of the nearest larger community. Genealogists seeking prenumeranten lists will find them primarily in old religious Hebrew books. Since the names are grouped by town and because the books were published at various times, a cross section of these communities is visible at different times. There are limitations to the usefulness of these lists and careful interpretation is essential. Prenumeranten lists are valuable for rabbinical genealogical research as the rabbis of particular communities often occupied a prominent position in the lists. Since the lists appear in rabbinical compositions, the introductions and title pages usually include genealogical information about the author’s family, some of whom may be included among the prenumeranten. [Comment by Chaim Freedman]
  • Kahana, Samuel Zanvil. Anaf Ets Avoth: Der Bekannten Jüdischen Familien: Horowitz, Heilpern, Rappaport, Margulies, Schorr, Kaznelnbogen. Krakow: Josef Fischer, 1903.(probably reprinted 1998).(H)
    • Very detailed genealogical tables of prominent rabbinical families. Arranged with cross referenced codes to indicate relationships. Detailed notes with biographical material and sources. A precise source which is usually accurate. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
    • Has a partial genealogy of a number of rabbinic families and ends with an entry stating the descent of Solomon Shapiro, ABD Heilbron, from Rashi and from King David. [Comment by David Einsiedler, F3]
  • Lewin, Y. Eleh Ezkerah. New York: Research Institute of Religious Jewry, 1956-1972. 7 Vols. (H)
    • Seven-volume anthology of biographies of 368 rabbis who perished in the Holocaust. Includes genealogical information and photographs. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Liberman, Yosef. Shalshelet HaYochasin. Jerusalem, 1978. (H)
  • Lippe, Chaim David. Bibliographisches Lexikon. Wien, 1881-89, 1899. (G)
  • Markovitch, Moshe. Shem Hagedolim Hashlishi. Vilna, 1910.(H)
    • Biographies of 277 rabbis whose names begin with Alef. Concentrates mainly on Lithuanian and Belarus rabbis, for many of whom this may be the only source of information. Rabbi Meir Wunder advised that a large manuscript of the author’s work is held by the manuscripts department of the National Library, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Mirsky, S. K. (ed.). Ishim u-demuyot be-khokhmat Yisrael be-Eyropa ha-mizrahit lifnei shekiatah. New York: Ogen, 1959. (H)
  • Reines, Moshe. Dor ve-khakhamav. Krakow: J. Fischer 1890. (H)
  • Reisen, Zalman. Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese un filologiye. Vilna: B. Klatzkin 1926-1929. 4 Vols. (Y)
  • Rosenstein, Neil and Dov Weber. Avnei Zikaron: Stones of Remembrance. Elizabeth, NJ: Computer Center for Jewish Genealogy, 1999. (E)
    • 921 pre-WWI Eastern European epitaphs from 51 communities with 20 genealogical charts. Detailed database of all burials of rabbis, cantors, community leaders, wives, and other prominent personalities. Includes CD-ROM containing handwritten Hebrew epitaphs as originally transcribed by the pre-WWI compiler.
  • Rosenstein, Neil and Emanuel Rosenstein. Latter Day Leaders, Sages and Scholars. Elizabeth, NJ: Computer Center for Jewish Genealogy, 1983. (E)
    • A bibliographic index of more than 5,500 rabbis from the 18th to early 20th centuries compiled from such noted books as Ohalei Shem, Eleh Ezkerah, etc. Numerous indexes include given name, surname and town. Each entry cites its source which can then be utilized to glean detailed information about the individual. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Shapira, Yaakov Leib. Mishpakhot Atikot Beyisrael. Tel Aviv, Israel: 1981. (H)
    • Traces the ancestry and principal descendants of the classical rabbinical families commencing with Rashi. Summary charts are followed by detailed biographical information about each successive generation and its marital connections. Aside from its genealogical value, this book is an excellent and concise summary of rabbinical biography. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Shechter-Cohen, Elazar. Kenet Sofrim. Lemberg, 1892.(H)
  • Stern, Abraham. Sefer melitsei esh: kolel toldot tahalukhot ve-kurot haye gedole yisrael. New York: Grosman, 1962. 1974. (H)
    • Three volumes include about 2,000 rabbis arranged by date of yahrzeit with an alphabetical index. Includes useful biographical and genealogical information. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
    • Check Ehrlikh first for the yahrzeit. (cf: Ehrlikh, Yisrael. Shevet mi-Yehudah)
  • Stern, Yechiel Michal (ed.). Gidolei Hadoros. Israel: Minchas Yisroel. 3 Vol. (H)
  • Wachstein, Bernhard. Die Inschriften Des Alten Judenfriedhofes in Wien. 2 Vol. (G)
  • Wachstein, B. Mafteakh Hahespedim (Index to Eulogies). 1924. (H)
  • Walden, Aaron (ca.1835-1912). Shem HaGedolim HeKhadash (Fame of the Great Ones). Warsaw, 1879. (H)
    • It consists of two parts: (1) "Ma'areket Gedolim," being an alphabetical list of the names of authors and rabbis, mostly those that lived after Azulai, but including also many of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries who were omitted by Azulai; and (2) "Ma'areket Sefarim," an alphabetical list of book-titles. Walden himself says in his preface that he took Azulai's Shem ha-Gedolim as a model; and it is evident that he refers to Benjacob's edition of that work. It must be said that the alphabetical list in the first part is arranged only according to the first names of the persons mentioned. In many instances the names are accompanied by biographical sketches, especially of Hasidic rabbis, whose biographies contain records of the miracles wrought by them and in behalf of them. To the third edition of the work, published in 1882 by Walden's son Joseph Aryeh Loeb, the latter added an appendix entitled "'En Zoker," containing names and book-titles omitted in the two previous editions. [from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906]
    • A continuation of the pioneering work of Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai, the CHIDA. [F5]
  • Wunder, Meir. Meorei Galicia: Encyclopedia Lekhakhmei Galicia (Encyclopedia of Galician Sages). Vol. 1-5. Jerusalem: The Institute for the Commemoration of Galician Jewry, 1978-1997. (H,E) (in Hebrew, with a table of contents in English)
    • Five volumes of extensively detailed genealogies of Galician rabbinical families, arranged alphabetically by surname. Most family sections include a genealogical chart. For prominent rabbis of each family biographical material is included, in particular rabbinical compositions, responsa correspondence and photographs. Updated information of current generations. Many sources quoted for each family as well as extensive bibliography. This impressive and scholarly work is the most extensive and reliable source of rabbinical genealogy written in the twentieth century. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
    • See: Indexes to Meorei Galicia for more than 1,350 surnames and 324 cities, towns, and shtetls found in Meorei Galicia.
    • See: Book review of Meorei Galicia.
  • Yevnin, Levi. Nakhalat Avot. Vilna, 1894.(H)
    • Capsule biographies of 83 rabbis with useful genealogical information. Arranged alphabetically by Hebrew first-name. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
  • Zarski, S.Z. Anshei Shem, Toldot Anshei Shem (Men of Renown). Jerusalem-Tel Aviv, 1940-1941. New York 1950. 2 Vols. (H)
    • A source recommended by Rabbi Meir Wunder. [Comment by Chaim Freedman, F1]
    • World lexicon of rabbis.

4Information on rabbinical genealogy published on the Internet may be found separately in the extensive Links section of the Rav-SIG web site. See: Links Index.


1. All comments by Chaim Freedman are from his book, Beit Rabbanan: Sources of Rabbinic Genealogy. Petah Tikva, Israel: self-published, 2001. Used with permission.

2. All comments by Chaim Freedman are from his book, Beit Rabbanan: Sources of Rabbinic Genealogy. Petah Tikva, Israel: self-published, 2001. Used with permission. Rabbi Meir Wunder's review of this book was originally published in Yad Lekoreh 15, 1976, booklet B, pp. 107-109. (Return)

3. Einsiedler, David. "Are You a Descendant of King David? A Look at Rabbinic Sources." Roots-Key: Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles. Spring, 1988.

4. Greenbaum, Avraham. A look at Rabbinic biographical dictionaries published since 1950. 2000.

5. Wunder, Meir. "The Reliability of Genealogical Research in Modern Rabbinic Literature." Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy. Winter, 1995. (Return)

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