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JPost.com » Jewish World » It's All Relative: Horowitz happenings

It's All Relative: Horowitz happenings

Horowitz families from around the world will meet in Israel in July

SHLOMO Gurevich is looking for you if your name is Horowitz, Hurowitz, Hurwitz, Horwitz, Herwitz, Ish-Horowitz, Gurevich, Gurvich, Gurovich, Gorvich, Gurvits, Gerwitz, Gorovets or Urevich.


"Do you know who you are?," he asks. "Do you know that you are a descendant of an ancient family, in Eretz Israel and medieval Spain? Do you know that your ancestors were famous scholars, rabbis, scientists, artists, Jewish community leaders? Do you know that Vladimir Horowitz and Karl Marx are your distant relatives?"

AN electrical engineer who lives in Hoshaya (Lower Galilee), Shlomo spends all his spare time on his family's genealogical research. He made aliya from Moscow in 1987, "after nine years of struggle." His great-grandfather Moshe Halevi Gurevich lived in Chislavichi in the province of Mogilev. Shlomo's extensive research into his branch can be read at www.geocities.com/Heartland/Creek/3997/ShGurftree-1.htm.

Shlomo is responsible for diaspora relations as a Horowitz Family Association board member and reports that the International Horowitz Families Reunion and Conference will take place July 11-13 (registration is open until July 11) following the 24th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

All Horowitzes, in Israel and abroad, related to the family or interested in the subject, are invited to join the association, established in 1991, which also offers a discussion group and message board. For more information, www.geocities.com/horowitzassociation/index.html.

Members live in the US, Israel, Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Ukraine and Spain.

IN 1999, Shlomo wrote (published in English and Russian), Gurevich, Gurovich, Gurvich, Gorvich, Gurvitz, Horowitz and others: History of a Great Family (ISBN 965-222-971-7). It contains 147 biographies of descendants who became famous rabbis, scholars, artists, scientists, engineers, musicians, soldiers, writers, revolutionaries, secret service agents, Zionists and Soviet Union heroes.

All sources, according to Shlomo, indicate that the Horowitz family - rabbis, scholars, community leaders - originated in medieval Spain. In the famed medieval community of Gerona lived Rabbi Itzhak Halevi, father of Rabbi Zerakhyah Ha-Levi, author of Ha-Maor, and the great-great-grandfather of Barcelona brothers, Rabbis Pinkhas and Aaron HaLevi. For an account of Shlomo's 2002 tracing of his ancestors read "Footsteps through Catalunya and France," www.geocities.com/shl_gur/Catalonia-engl.htm.

BY the end of the 15th century, the family lived in Horovice, a small Bohemian town near Prague, where the exiled Spanish Jews settled, and where they also adopted the name Horowitz, or Ish Horowitz (the man Horowitz, or the man from Horowitz) or Ish Ha-Levi Horowitz (The Levite Horowitz). The name has a multitude of variations and, in Russian where G=H, the Gurevich variations developed.

The majority are Levites (with the exception of those who acquired the name through other methods). The family founder is considered to be R. Yishayahu ben Moshe Asher Ha-Levi Horowitz of Horovice, later a prominent member of the Prague community (early 16th century), where he died in 1514. Of his seven sons, the best known were Aharon Meshulam and Shabtai Sheftel. Aharon Meshulam built the famed Pinkhas Schul in Prague, named for his brother who finished the project.

R. Aharon Mesulam's grandson, R. Pinkhas ben Israel and nephew, R. Avraham ben Shabtai, a son of R. Shabtai Sheftel, moved to Poland, where the family expanded. Within decades, relatives were found all over the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including rabbis in Prague, Cracow, Vienna, Hamburg and Nikolsburg. In the 16-17th centuries, the most famous were R. Yeshayahu ben Avraham Ha-Levi known as SheLaH Ha-Kadosh (the Holy SheLaH), who immigrated from Prague to Jerusalem in 1621 and is buried in Tiberias.

GUREVICH notes that the Horowitz Association has documentation on descendants who were active for centuries in Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, Germany, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, and in the last century in America, South Africa and Australia. In the Russian Empire, the name was Russified, and Gurevich claims the first Jew who settled in Svenzian (Lithuania), in 1560, was Rachmiel Gurvits.

In 17th-19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, familiy members were rabbis in Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary and Germany. Among the famed were R. Yakov Yokel Horowitz; brothers R. Pinchas ben Zvi Hirsh Ha-Levi (Frankfurt), the author of Sefer Hafla'a; and R. Shmuel (Shmelke) ben Zvi Hirsh Ha-Leviof (Nikolsburg).

R. Shmuel's descendants went to the US in the 1880s, married into the Margareten family, and established the Horowitz-Margareten company. These descendants established The Horowitz-Maragareten Family Association.

THE world wars, the Holocaust and Stalin had a great influence on the Jewish world and the family. Thousands perished, including Eastern European rabbinical leaders.

Those who survived left for Israel and other countries, the majority to America. The 1948 birth of Israel meant that the second largest number of Horowitz-related individuals live here. Today, descendants live around the world.

IN 1991, the family association was established with the cooperation of the Diaspora Museum and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research of Jewish Family Heritage, to collect and document information on descendants in Jewish history, and to connect the branches. Conferences (national and international) and study days are organized, along with visits to sites of family importance, historical material published, while other activities preserve and transmit family heritage among younger generations and new immigrants.

The 1996 international conference in Tel Aviv enabled Israeli and diaspora branches to meet, and an American association was organized.

Activities are open to all family branches, whether the name is Ish-Horowitz, Horowitz, Hurwitz or Gurevitch.

The Israeli foundation, publishes the Yedion newsletter and the Beth Horowitz journal, including articles on events and personalities. Among the many activities over the past few years were a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel in June 1998; in December 1998, a conference focused on Bilu pioneer Zvi Hurvitz; in June 1999, a study day on the Horowitzes and prominent families in 16th century Prague's Golden Age; in 2000, Horowitz oldtimers and Gurevitch newcomers met. Study days were held in 2000 (Polish Jewry's Golden Age); 2001, Lithuania; 2002, Romania; 2003, the Russian Empire branches.

CONFERENCE highlights include the first day tour family sites in Jerusalem, such as the SheLaH's house, museum of the Old City, home of Advocate Shalom Horowitz, Touro College directed by Prof. Carmi Horowitz and the Har Nof Yeshiva of Rabbi Horowitz. The second day will be a study day at Bet HaTanach in Tel Aviv, with lectures, slides and films (English and Hebrew) addressing such topics as family leaders of European Jewry, Horowitzes in international science and industry, the Horowitz associations in Israel and the US and future plans, along with an exhibit of books by family members and photographs.

For the complete July 11-13 conference program, visit the Association website.

THE association library and archives is headed by Dr. Chaim Horovitz, who is cataloguing existing material. Some holdings are listed on the website. People with information about the family are invited to send material. For more information, visit the website, or contact Dr. Horovitz, email, chorov@zahav.net.il.

Under construction is the web-based Horowitz Family Tree genealogical database with thousands of names. Shlomo invites the assistance of descendants around the world to help with the website; contact him, sh12gur@yahoo.com; his website, www.geocities.com/shl_gur.

It's All Relative invites readers' inquiries and comments. Contact Schelly, schelly@allrelative.net.

JFRA Tel Aviv Hebrew
8pm, Tuesday, June 8
Bet Shalom, 2 Shir St, TA

Naomi Izhar: "Oral history: Future documentation for history and historians."

JFRA members/residents, free; others, NIS 15. Info, Hinda, 050-247432, hinda@genealogy.org.il.

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