Table of Contents

Online Journal

Ashkenazic Rabbinic Families

by Dr. Neil Rosenstein

For a graphic representation, see genealogical chart (481KB). The chart includes the following:
  • Surnames - Charif, Edels, Helman, Horowitz, Isserles, Jaffe, Kalmankes, Katvan, Katz, Katzenellenbogen, Klauber, Lemmlein, Luria, Rappaport, Singer, Sirkes, Spira, Treves, Wolf, and Zak, and
  • Individuals - BaCH, MaHaRaL of Prague, MaHaRaM Lublin, MaHaRaM Padua, MaHaRaSHa Edels, MaHaRaSHaL, Megaleh Amukot, Meginei Shlomo, Levush, ReMa, SHaCH, She'erit Yosef, Smichat Hachamim, TaZ.


Ashkenazic rabbinical families preserved in historical sources seem to arise in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Ashkenazic rabbinical families preserved in historical sources seem to arise in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. The period immediately before that is greatly shrouded in mystery and affected by decimation of the Jewish population. One particularly heavy blow was the Black Death which swept eastward across the continent between 1348 and 1350. Not only did it certainly kill about half the Jewish community, but its transmission was widely attributed to the Jews, causing further bloodshed and loss of life.(F1)

The Black Death was but one of a series of plagues resulting in a longtime decline in the population.(F2) Expulsion of the Jewish section of the population of England and France during the 13th century was complete, since there were more or less united monarchies at the time and their efforts were unified. Ashkenazim were certainly affected by this, but Germany was still a collection of small principalities to which the Jews could move freely.

To this privileged and affluent community streamed Jewish refugees from French and German persecution, seeking and finding a better life. By the middle of the twentieth century, when the world was recuperating from the Nazi Holocaust, the descendants of Polish Jewry constituted the bulk of world Jewry.(F3)

Ashkenazic rabbinical families did not emerge from that section of Jewry alone, i.e. the Ashkenazic cultural complex which arose as early as the 14th century in the northern French communities. Some of the more illustrious Ashkenazic dynasties of the last four to five hundred years were originally of Sephardic origin. Even today there are Ashkenazic and Sephardic prayer rites. The former can be further divided into "nusach Ashkenaz" and "nusach Sefard," the official prayer rites of modern Israel, a variant of which is used by Hassidic sects.

Thirteenth-century Spain saw the birth of Aaron Halevi, about 1235, in Barcelona. He was the brother of Pinchas Halevi, a contemporary of Nachmanides (1194-1270). They were the principal teachers of Aaron, who is said to have been the author of the Sefer HaChinuch. Aaron was the son of Joseph Benveniste, who married Clara, daughter of Asher b. Meshullam b. Jacob of Lunel, descendants of the House of King David. He was a brother of Nasi Isaac, the court physician of King James I of Aragon, who died about 1224.

The family's predecessors were the Gerondis who were "...of the descendants of the Exile from Jerusalem, who live in Spain," and who claimed descent from the Levite Biblical prophet Samuel.(F4) Pinchas Halevi had two sons, Joshua and Isaac. Isaac was the father of Joseph, ancestor of the Horowitz family, named after the town of Horowicz in Hungary where their ancestor settled. Aaron Halevi, brother of Pinchas, was the ancestor of the Epstein family, probably named after the town of Eppstein in the German Landgrave of Hesse. This town was given permission by Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria to receive ten Jews. As a result of the Black Death, a member of the family, Jacob Halevi Epstein, and his mother-in-law Gutlin from Eppstein traveled south to Frankfurt-am-Main.(F5)

Other examples of Sephardic and Ashkenazic intermingling abound, with less historical documentation, but with support coming from the derivation of family names from various towns. This is the manner in which "most surviving Sephardic family names are derived." The "practice became very widespread after the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal."(F6)

It is not only these, but also Ashkenazic families who adopted this tradition, as we shall see.

From Troyes, France, we trace the 14th-century Treves family, who claimed descent from Rashi who was born there. Other towns are possible contenders--Trier in Germany, and less likely, Treviso, Italy,(F7) but the first is more likely based on the Rashi tradition and the fact that Joseph Treves, called "The Great", was either Rabbi of Paris or Marseilles. His son, Mattithiah Treves, after studying in Spain, became Rabbi of Paris by royal decree in 1363.

The first union of these two great rabbinical families was the marriage of Mattithiah's daughter to R. Solomon Spira. A daughter of this issue, Miriam, united her ancestry with that of the Luria family by marrying R. Aaron, son of Nethaneel Luria. Nethaneel's grandfather, R. Samson Luria, came from early 14th-century Erfurt, Germany (East Germany today). Kaganoff believes that the name Luria derives from the town of that name in Italy. It is more likely that it is traceable to the longest French river, Loire, which flows northward to Orleans, a town closely associated with members of Rashi's immediate descendants.

Further support comes from Kohen-Zedek(F8) who states that Nethaneel Luria came from Worms, where Rashi had spent time studying. It is probable that Luria's predecessors had also come from France to study and remain there. In fact, "the Luria family is the most ancient of all families of note that we know of," writes A. Epstein in his Die Familie Lurie (1901). Even though he misrepresents the Spira-Luria lineage, this statement can also be considered true in the light of the genealogy presented in his book based on the family tree recorded by R. Jehiel Heilprin.

In 1769, R. Heilprin (1660-1746) published Seder HaDorot, which contains a chronology of events and personalities from creation until 1696. He was the first of the rabbi-genealogists to record rabbinical family origins. A Luria descendant, he traced his lineage to "Eliakim, who gave birth to the grandfather of Rashi, of blessed memory"(F9) and beyond that to R. Jochanan HaSandlar.

Of course, Epstein's comment could apply equally to Treves or Spira. From the Rhineland town of Speyer, in the fourteenth century, where a Jewish community was already flourishing, the Spira (or Spiro) family took its origin. The Mintz (Minz) family, founded in the fifteenth century,(F10) originated in Mayence (Mainz). They were among those expelled in 1462. The Heilprin (and variant spellings) family from Heilbron were probably among those expelled from there in 1349 during the Black Death or later during the 15th century, the latest being 1490.

A rabbinic family with a different name derivation is that of Shor (ox). It traces its origin back to Joseph b. Isaac Bechor-Shor, 12th-century tosafist and poet and the most renowned scholar of Orleans, a town south of Paris. The name is based on the Deuteronomy (Ch.33,17) derivation of the "Firstling Bullock" which became the kinnui (nickname) for Joseph. This family is also considered one of the most ancient in Israel.(F11) The family name Shor becomes prevalent during the 15th and 16th centuries as various rabbinical members married into other rabbinical families. The first people with these surnames in France date from the 15th century.(F12)

The earliest records of the Gunzburg and Rappaport families trace back to the Italian town of Porto in the Verona province. Both families originated in Germany. The Gunzbergs from Ulm, Wuertemberg, went to Porto during the 15th century where they first carried the surname of Ulma. After settling again in the town of Gunzburg, they took the name of Ulma-Gunzburg. The Rafa (Rabe, or family of the raven) traces to Porto, whence derives the Rappaport Cohanic family.

From the above examples, we see in the 14th and 15th centuries the development of family names (whether Ashkenazic or Sephardic) and the emergence of rabbinical family dynasties. These family names became some of the most prominent of all Jewish surnames, carrying through the next 500 years into the twentieth century.


The Encyclopedia Judaica gives figures of the total Jewish population for the years 1300 and 1490 as 450,000 and 600,000 respectively. The number for the regions of Ashkenazic rabbinical family origins, i.e. Poland-Lithuania and Hungary, are 10,000 (Poland-Lithuania, 5,000 and Hungary 5,000) and 50,000 (30,000 and 20,000, respectively). The rest is made up of predominantly Sephardic communities in France, the Holy Roman Empire, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Apparently, there were more than 60 Jewish communities in united Poland-Lithuania at the end of the 15th century consisting of between 20,000-30,000 people. In German communities, there were over 140 communities affected by 13th-14th century persecution.(F13)

It would appear that the larger towns had about 50 households during this period (see the footnote for Mainz). For 1480-90, we have a total of 50,000 Jews from whom almost the entire Ashkenazic Jewish population of today derives.
Let us assume that half of these were the females, which leaves us with 25,000 males. To maintain strict moral code, early marriages were encouraged. This allowed parents to be the matchmakers for their children who married between the ages of fifteen and eighteen.(F14)

This created an average household of between five and twenty souls (that of a large family or of an extended family unit, including grandchildren).

The range of possible total numbers of Ashkenazic Jewish households throughout Eastern Europe would be between 1,250 and 5,000. In the case of recorded genealogies for certain rabbinical families, the following 15th-17th century figures emerge on family size:(F15)

Generation II,III,IV
Katzenellenbogen 3,13,46
Rappaport 5,24,55
Gunzburg 4,8,16
Luria 4,8,9+
Shor 6,9,18

If we assume a minimum of 100 Rabbinical leaders of the larger communities, it becomes apparent that between one in twelve and one in fifty persons of any one generation was a rabbinical scholar...

If we assume a minimum of 100 Rabbinical leaders of the larger communities (out of an estimated 200 or more communities), it becomes apparent that between one in twelve and one in fifty persons of any one generation (we have chosen 1480-90) was a rabbinical scholar, among whom some were most distinguished.

This figure of one in fifty exactly parallels the claim of an advertisement which appeared in The Genealogical Helper (Sept-Oct 1985, p.77) that "it is estimated that some 50 million Americans can trace their ancestry to the medieval royal families of Europe". Out of approximately 250 million today, that incidence is one in fifty Americans.

Throughout our history we have regarded our leading scholarly rabbis as the equivalent of royalty. They were our rulers, judges, and legal advisors, and in fact were often appointed by royal decree. In nearly every city the Jewish community was concentrated in separate quarters.(F16) First, witness the establishment of the Judenstadt or Judengasse, and later, in the 16th century, the ghetto, created for the rabbinical leader--a "kingdom" unto itself!

These are the 15th century beginnings of the dynasties of rabbinical rulers whose "royal" seat as Av Beit Din (ABD) of a community was almost invariably passed on from father to son or son-in-law. This increase in power and influence of the rabbis also brought problems of competition, conflict, and even rabbinic violations.(F17) An extreme example of attempts at securing this throne was made by 19th century Rabbi Meshullam Issachar Horowitz (1808-1888). As ABD Stanislav stated in his will, "All kisi loh yeshev zar." ("No outsider to our family shall occupy my seat.") This remained a fact until the community's destruction in World War II.

At other times wars, albeit ones of words and published polemics, were undertaken to regain the title of ABD, especially when the later division of Ashkenazim into Mitnagedim and Hassidim developed. Interestingly, all major Hassidic dynasties, and many of the minor ones, trace their ancestry with pride to their Mitnagedic roots, e.g. Lubavitch to the MaHaRal of Prague. When a descendant of a Mitnagedic rabbinical family became a Hassid, the converse was invariably true. He was ostracized from the family, and if he was not excluded from the family history (and genealogy), then certainly his descendants were.

Such was the case of R. Joel "Kamarovke" Katzenellenbogen, ABD Komarovke, of the 18th century. He is recorded in Da'at Kedoshim, by Eisenstadt (1897-8), but there is no mention of his descendants. His father, R. Abraham Katzenellenbogen, ABD Brest-Litovsk, had been vehemently opposed to the Hassidic movement. Now his namesake grandson became known as "Abraham the Hassid", and his issue were Hassidim!

Another example is that of R. Naftali Herz Heilprin, ABD Brzezany (1775-1845), who became a Hassid. He and his progeny are omitted in Aleh HaDas despite the fact that they were prominent scholars. Naftali Herz's son, R. Meshullam Shraga Feiwish Heilprin (died 1874), was the author of Sefat Emet. He was married to the only daughter of R. Asher Isaiah Rubin, who was the second Admur (Rebbe) of Ropczyce.(F18)

Is there a rabbi in the family?

A table of ancestral numbers appears as follows (assuming about 25 years a generation):

1980-1880 1,2,4,8 (two parents, four grandparents, etc.)
1880-1780 16, 32, 64, 128
1780-1680 256, 512, 1024, 2048
1680-1580 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768
1580-1480 65536, 131072, 262144, 524288

By 1480, any one individual could trace back to 1,048,576 ancestors. As we have already indicated above, the total Jewish population we can trace only numbered some 50,000 of whom at least one in fifty were rabbinical scholars. Thus, any one individual tracing back has the probability of approximately half of (for males only) 50,000 in 1,000,000 or about one in forty of having a rabbinical scholar as an ancestor.

The implication is, at the lowest level of possibility, any Ashkenazic Jew living today has at least a one in fifty chance of tracing back to a rabbinical dynastic lineage.

The implication is, at the lowest level of possibility, any Ashkenazic Jew living today has at least a one in fifty chance (if the sources and resources were available) of tracing back to a rabbinical dynastic lineage.

The royalty of Europe married among themselves, so that, for example, Queen Victoria was the royal matriarch of England's Queen Elizabeth, Russia's Czarina Alexandra, Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, Greece's King Constantine and Spain's King Juan Carlos. In the same manner, even from their very beginnings, the various emerging 15th century rabbis undertook a similar security, as the example table shows.

There were many reasons for this. The concept of Yichus, or illustrious ancestry, was not new at that time. Families could boast lineage back to Rashi, the greatest Biblical commentator of all time, e.g. Luria, Jaffe, Spira, Treves. Others could claim direct royal descent from Biblical King David, e.g. Charlap family and the MaHaRaL of Prague.

One should keep in mind the fact that after the loss of the ten tribes, only Judah and Benjamin remained from whom Jews can today trace their lineage. Although numbers cannot be given, the fact that families could trace back to the Judean royal household is not too farfetched. Others were proud of their Cohanic or Levite lineage, e.g. Epstein and Horowitz.

A scholar attracted groups of students who would live locally, often cared for by his wife.(F19) Then he would arrange matches with his top students for his daughters, or daughters of the wealthy, for his sons. A. L. Sachar writes:

The rabbi, who until modern times combined a secular occupation with his ministry, was the outstanding citizen and wielded considerable authority. Wealthy Jews supported study, and it was a high distinction for them to marry a daughter to a promising young rabbi.(F20)

On his recommendation, they could be sent away to become the scholars of other towns or elected to the post of ABD of a community.

The Court Jew

A unique segment of the Jewish "aristocracy" that arose in the medieval period, but became more significant during the 16th century, was the Court Jew.

A unique segment of the Jewish "aristocracy" that arose in the medieval period, but became more significant during the 16th century was the Court Jew. They were the court contractors and purveyors used by the ruling princes of the time.
A decidedly dynastic attitude led them to prefer marriages with the families of other Court Jews and to attempt to secure their positions for their descendants. Both were contributing factors to the tendency of their families to form a particular group within Jewry.(F21)

This attitude is reminiscent of the attitude among the Rabbinical dynasties as well. One should not overlook the fact that in many instances the Court Jews were, not to anyone's surprise, members of rabbinical dynasties. R. Samuel Oppenheimer, Court Jew, military contractor and banker to Leopold I of Austria, was known among his generation as "Judenkaiser". His son, Wolf, married a daughter of his business associate, Leffmann Behrens, Court Jew of Hanover, whose cousin was Behrend Lehmann, Court Jew of Halberstadt. A nephew of Oppenheimer was Samson Wertheimer, the wealthiest Jew of his day and Court Jew of Vienna.

Descendants were ennobled with the title of Edler von Wertheimstein. Leffmann Behrens' wife was the sister of Haim Hameln, whose wife was the famous authoress of Memoirs, written by Glueckel of Hameln. Her sister married the Court Jew, Mordecai Gumpel of Cleves, purveyor of Brandenburg and father of Elias Cleve (Gomperz) who founded the banking house which soon became one of the largest in Prussia, serving the Great Elector.

Court Jew Marx (Mordecai) Margolis-Jaffe-Schlesinger, military purveyor to the Austrian Court in Vienna prior to the 1670 expulsion, was the great-grandson of R. Mordecai Jaffe, author of the Levush. His descendant, through two of his sons, was R. Akiva Eger the Younger (1761-1837), who was famed for the Yeshiva he established and was the ABD Posen. "He was the father-in-law of Moses Sofer and the ancestor of many prominent scholars, scientists, and writers."(F22)

The genealogical ties continue. Seventeenth century R. Issachar Berish, also known as Behrend Levi, Court Jew of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years War, was the son of R. Levi Joshua, author of Pnei Aryey, son of R. Jacob Joshua, author of Pnei Yehoshua. His son, R. Samuel Berenstein (1772-1838), the first to preach sermons in the Dutch language, was the ABD of Amsterdam's Ashkenazic community which occurred on the death of his father-in-law in 1815.

The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot, Chapter 4, records how, when the Head of the Sanhedrin, Rabban Gamaliel, repeatedly insulted one of the noted scholars, the others wished to depose him. They finally settled on appointing Head Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah, of noted Haggadah fame on Passover night, to the post of Sanhedrin. The choice was made for three reasons: he was wise, he was rich and he had "zechus avot", ancestral merit, being the tenth generation descendant from Ezra the scribe. With his knowledge, he could answer any difficult questions. With his money, should the need arise, he could pay the Roman courts under Caesar. With ancestral merit, Rabban Gamaliel would be unable to bring a curse upon him!

The Influence of Book Printing

This period with which we are dealing must be viewed given the revolutionary development of book printing in the 15th century.

This period with which we are dealing must be viewed given the revolutionary development of book printing in the 15th century.

During the first two centuries of this period (i.e. the Middle Ages), with the exception of a few chronicles giving the succession of the generations of scholars, hardly any work of real historical value was produced. It is with the end of that century that works on history began to appear in considerable numbers. The sixteenth century was especially fertile in this type of book, for most of the works on the past life of the nation were composed in that span of time.(F23)

This rise of historical literature, according to Waxman, "raised its quality above that of the Classical period." The reader can, therefore, understand how the chronicling of rabbinical family origins intensified at this period. Caution however must be exercised "in order to separate the kernel of fact from the chaff of imagination."

In 1505, Abraham Zacuto, famed astronomer, published his Sefer Yuchasin (Book of Genealogies), ending with the close of the Talmudic period. The "last of the more important histories" was R. Jehiel Heilprin's Seder HaDorot (Order of Generations) which appeared in the 17th century. Between these two books, many that were printed contained references to the forbearers of the author, often in the title page, or in the introduction that followed.

Various types of rabbinical works in later periods, down to the present day, reveal a wealth of genealogical and historical material in the title, introduction and approbation pages. This is true of Responsa, Novellae, commentaries on the Bible and Talmud, and commentaries on the works of earlier scholars, often an ancestor of the author/compiler. Unfortunately, family genealogy not being the prime reason for these works, collateral lineages are lacking in more instances than not.

Unpublished manuscripts still extant, contain genealogical material of great importance. One such manuscript, dating from the early 16th century, #2240 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, was written by the "Shtadlan" Joseph (Joselmann) ben Gershon of Rosheim (died in 1554). It details the earliest generations of the matriarchal family of Luria.

For the most part, the genealogical web of repeated marriages within an "elite" group of Ashkenazic rabbinical families begins as recorded history in the 15th century and has continued down to the present day. It is certainly not an isolated phenomenon, but one that attracts the public eye at large.

Thus, the headline "20,000 attend Royal Hasidic Wedding" appears, announcing the marriage of the bride and groom grandchildren of the present Grand Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum of Satmar. The wedding, which took place at the Nassau Coliseum, was also featured on TV news at that time. The New York Times ran an article, "The Twerski Tradition: 10 Generations of Rabbis in the Family," by Israel Shenker. It is highly probable that a study of the followers of any particular Hassidic sect, e.g. Satmar, Bobov, Kozlov, Belz, and others, for example, would reveal a significant percentage of the followers being related in one way or another to their leader.

The present author, having discovered one ancestral tradition to be fact, uncovered collateral ancestral lineage back to a number of other 15th and 16th centuries' great rabbinical scholars.

Genealogical charts readily demonstrate how, from the very beginnings of the rabbinical dynasties, nearly every major rabbinical family name is represented, starting in the 15th and 16th centuries. To date it is the exception rather than the rule to find a rabbinical family without any genealogical links to other major rabbinical families.

As would be expected, significant parts of Jewish history have been affected by the interplay of Europe's Rabbinical dynasties. In much the same way, albeit on a lesser scale, did families such as the Maccabees and the House of Herod the Great write the pages of our earlier history.

Here are a few examples.

During the sixteenth century, when R. Solomon Luria (MaHaRaShal) denounced the work Binyamin Zeev by R. Benjamin Zeev b. Mattithiah of Arta, he was supported by R. Meir of Padua, his father's first cousin.(F24)

A few years later Meir's son, R. Samuel Judah Katzenellenbogen of Venice, published Maimonides' Mishne Torah in 1550-51 with his own glosses on the printing press of Bragadini. Then, without his knowledge, the rival printers, Justinian, published a similar volume with Katzenellenbogen's glosses abridged. This led to a quarrel and recriminations finally ending in the Talmudic burnings of 1554 ordered by the Pope. The greatest rabbi of that generation, R. Moses Isserles, was appealed to by Katzenellenbogen, and he placed a ban on the Justinian publication. The two rabbis were the sons of first cousins.

The chief rabbis of the prestigious triple community of Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbeck included R. Meshullam Zalman Mirels (1620-1706), succeeded by his son-in-law, R. Zvi Ashkenazi (1660-1718), known as the Chacham Tzvi. It is therefore no surprise that a great rabbinical scholar such as R. Jacob Emden (1697-1776), son of R. Ashkenazi, should have expected to follow in his father's footsteps some time in the future. However, he had developed a name for being a critic with little regard for the scholars of his period.

When in 1750 R. Jonathan Eybeschutz was appointed the new Chief Rabbi, Emden started his most famous controversy which divided German Jewry and rabbinical circles.(F25) The basis of his accusations centered around Eybeschutz's circulation of amulets which Emden claimed had Shabbatean connotations. He claimed that Eybeschutz was therefore a follower of the false messiah. Once again rabbinical family ties played a part in this conflict. Forced to flee the community, Emden took refuge in Amsterdam at the home of the Chief Rabbi, Aryey Leib Lowenstamm, his brother-in-law and one of those against Eybeschutz.

The third example is the famous Get (Divorce Bill) of Cleves which was signed by R. Israel Lipschutz (died 1748). Its validity was questioned for Halachic reasons which, once again, divided the European community. Sides were taken. Those siding with Lipschutz included the leading authorities of that generation, R. Naftali Hirsch Katzenellenbogen, the Chief Rabbi of Schwabach, and his brother R. Eliezer, Chief Rabbi of Alsace. Lipschutz had married their niece!

In conclusion, we can see that for at least 500 years, Ashkenazic rabbinical dynasties have played a major role in the course of Jewish history, strengthening their authority and position of influence by frequently tightening family bonds through marriage. We can also see that many thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, of Jews today can claim descent from these families. They are often able to record that lineage as an unbroken chain from the very beginnings of these illustrious sages of the past.

The genealogical chart was designed by Dr. Richard Plotz, to whom I am most grateful.


ABD = Av Beth Din/Chief Rabbi
b = ben/son of
R. = Rabbi


1. Mourant, et al., The Genetics of the Jews. Clarendon Press, 1978. Simon Dubnow in History of the Jews quotes from a 1349 chronicle that "the Jews in entire Germany and almost in entire Poland were annihilated".(return)
2. "Population," Encyclopedia Judaica.(return)
3. Shulman, Nisson E. Authority and Community. 1986, flyleaf. See also, Lewin, Isaac. "The Origin and Rise," The Jewish Community in Poland, Ch. 1.(return)
4. Weinstock, M.Y. Tiferet Beit David, Jerusalem. 1968.(return)
5. Dietz, A. Stammbuch der Franfurter Juden. Epstein. 1907.(return)
6. Kaganoff, B. A Dictionary of Jewish Names. p. 14.(return)
7. "Treves," Encyclopedia Judaica.(return)
8. Kohen-Zedek, J. Shem VeShe'erit. Krakow.(return)
9. Shereshevsky, Esra. Rashi-the Man and His World. 1982. Does not make any mention of this connection.(return)
10. "Mainz," Encyclopedia Judaica. Vol. VIII. 1904. States that 54 Jewish houses existed at the end of the 13th century.(return)
11. Friedberg, B. Toldot Mishpachat Shor.(return)
12. Levy, Paul. Les Noms des Israelites en France. 1960.(return)
13. Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. XIII. p. 712; Vol. VII. p. 468; Vol. VII. p. 479. States that even as late as the 18th century "large" German communities numbered no more than several hundred families (1,000-2,000 persons), that is, 5-10 people per unit.(return)
14. Dubnow, Simon. History of the Jews. p.414(return)
15. Eisenstadt. Da'at Kedoshim; Epstein. Familie Lurie; and Lurie and Friedberg. Toldot Mishpachat Shor.(return)
16. Dubnow, Simon. History of the Jews. Vol. III. Ch. 7, p. 407.(return)
17. Shulman, N. Authority and Community, 1986. p. 66. See there also for the two types of rabbis that evolved.(return)
18. Introduction to Pnei Yitzchak. Pub. by Mordecai Z. Taicher (for Joel Kamarovke.) and N. Rosenstein. 1905. The Unbroken Chain. 1976. p. 601 (for the Ropczyce/Ropshitz family.).(return)
19. Dubnow, p. 413 states that R. Meir of Ruttenberg had living quarters that could accommodate not only his own family, but also the students of his academy. Shulman. Authority and Community. p. 179. "Every sixteenth century Polish Rabbi had a yeshiva, a group of students who considered him the 'master' ".(return)
20. History of the Jews, p. 259.(return)
21. Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. V, p. 1008.(return)
22. Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 6. p. 470.(return)
23. Waxman, Meyer. History of Jewish Literature, Ch. IX, p. 458.(return)
24. Carmilly-Weinberger, Moshe. Censorship and Freedom of Expression. p. 155.(return)
25. Carmilly-Weinberger, Moshe. Censorship and Freedom of Expression. p. 86.(return)

Dr. Neil Rosenstein, a surgeon who lives in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was the founding president of the New York-based Jewish Genealogical Society. He is the author of several genealogy books including The Unbroken Chain, a compilation of rabbinic genealogies. This article was originally published in Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Fall 1987, and is reproduced with kind permission of the publisher and the author.