Introduction


According to Arthur Kurzweil: “For the Jewish people, our royal families have been those of the illustrious rabbis.” If that is true, then the Katzenellenbogen rabbinical lineage is foremost among these noble families.  For centuries, Jewish men and women have sought to connect themselves and their descendants to this renowned family, either through marriage, or by paper trail.  Now, thanks to recent advances in genetic genealogy, this may be possible to do for many more individuals of Jewish descent than ever before. The Katzenellenbogen rabbinic lineage, which descends from Rabbi Meir ben (son of) Rabbi Isaac Katzenellenbogen, better known as the Maharam of Padua (c. 1482–1565), is a venerable family with many tens of thousands of descendants widely dispersed throughout Eastern and Central Europe, as well as Israel and the United States. The family derived its name from the locality of Katzenelnbogen in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, now Germany. “The Katzenellenbogen lineage produced a long line of distinguished rabbis and notable personalities over the centuries and is tightly interwoven with many of the most renowned Ashkenazi rabbinic families of Europe.  The family was widely dispersed, but its unity was maintained through meticulously kept family records.  Thanks to the genealogical research efforts of our co-author, Dr. Neil Rosenstein, in locating, translating, and compiling the abundant source material in his book, The Unbroken Chain, the genealogical information on the Katzenellenbogen lineage is extensive and highly accessible. The Katzenellenbogen rabbinical lineage is a particularly noteworthy lineage from a genealogical research perspective, due to its many marriage connections to other iconic rabbinical lineages and dynasties throughout Europe and the Russian Empire, its large number of descendants, and its well-documented paper trail. Members of the family intermarried with other prominent Jewish families and produced many notable rabbis.  Such was the fame of the Katzenellenbogen family that men who married Katzenellenbogen women typically adopted their wives’ family surname (see the Appendix for additional information regarding the Katzenellenbogen rabbinical lineage). Continue Reading..

AUTHORS

Jeffrey Mark Paull

Jeffrey Briskman

Neil Rosenstein