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MARGOLIOS FAMILY YICHUS BRIEF

September 29, 2013

This write-up below represents the “yichus brif” of the of the illustrious Margolios family.

ORIGIN OF NAME

The name was originally Margolies with various alternative spellings, Margolioth, Margulies, and Margolioth. Margolit in Hebrew means ‘pearl’ which may possibly explain the large number of girls called Pearl in the descendants. The Eliyahu Margulies who settled in Hull changed his name to Pearlson and Elia Margulies called himself Elia Ellis, and occasionally Mark Ellis.

Wolfa Margolioth, (married to Cypry Golda) was Sarah`s father.

He was the grandson of Harav Eliyahu Margolioth who was the grandson of Harav Tzvi Hirsch Margolioth. Sarah Margolioth married Jacob Harris and moved to Cape Town between 1901 and 1904.

As is noted in the genealogy chart above, she was one of six siblings.

The four who remained in Poland perished in the holocaust, and the other sibling who survived was Elia who immigrated to London.

Sarah lost her husband in a bicycle accident while pregnant. She had 5 daughters, one of whom was my grandmother Feiga (Fanny Block).

The Margolioth dynasty of Rabbis is well documented in the comprehensive compendium `Elef Margolioth` Edited by Rabbi Wunder (Hebrew) and is described in THE UNIVERSAL JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA VOL 7 (edited by Isaac Landman; published in 1943 by Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc.)

FAMILY ORIGINS

The immediate descendants of Avram Hirsh emigrated from Poland during the latter part of the 19th Century. Elia came from Aleksandrow a small town near Lodz, where Jews had begun to settle in the 1830′s. By 1850 there were about a 1,000 Jews living in the community and by 1939 about 3500.

Today there are no Jewish remains, and the cemetery was ploughed up and is now a park.

Aleksandrow was the early childhood home of the Ellis family (Elia) and Sarah Margulies/ Margaliska who married Jacoba Giecynskiega (Jacob Harris).

Sarah was the mother of 5 daughters – Pearl, Malke (Molly) Feiga (Fanny), Leah and Tilly. They came to South Africa between 1901 and 1904 from England, to where they had fled from the Pogroms in Poland.

Jacoba had a brother living in South Africa (Cape Town) so he left Poland with a view to settling in Cape Town and sending for his family who would stay in England with family until he had enough money to send for them.

THE RABBINICAL CONNECTION

Eliyahu Pearlson who was a Rabbi, Mohel and Shochet wrote his family record in Hebrew, in which he traces his descent from many learned and famous scholars. Using his letter and the Encyclopaedia Judaica, I have been able to trace a line of descent from Jacob Margolioth of Regensburg who died between 1499-1512. Rabbi Wunder has written a book on the Margulies family of Rabbis called ‘One Thousand Pearls’ but I understand that it has only been published in Hebrew. By tradition the Margolioth claim descent from Rashi. Certainly Aleksandrow was a well-known center for Hasidim.

ELIYAHU PEARLSON’S GENEALOGY

This is the letter, or more correctly a translation of Eliyahu’s descent which he wrote in Hebrew at the beginning of his Register of Circumcisions, as it is an important document I am copying it in full.

I am Eliyahu son of Avraham Tzvi Margolioth, preacher of righteousness of the Holy Congregation of Aserkov in the neighborhood of the large town of Lodz in the state of Poland. I was born in the town of Sgerszsh (possibly Gerush) on the first day of the festival of Pesach in the year of 1847.

When I was 17 years old, I learned the laws of Shchitah and Bedikot in the town of Krashnivitz, and from there I traveled to Germany and became second Shochet in the town of Shrims in the province of Posen.

I stayed there for two years and on becoming Chazzan I returned to the town of Storchnest next to Lissa.

In the year 1875 together with some other Jews I came to England where I found an abode in the town of Oxford, staying there for about six months when I was elected to the Holy Congregation of Newcastle-upon-Tyne as Chazzan and Shochet.

On the 15th of the month of Shevat in the year 1876 I married my gentle wife Yetta (Julie) daughter of Morainu Harav Yitzchak Bishopswerder, reader and Shochet in Penzance.

My wife originates from a prominent German family her father was Chazzan for more than forty years, and his wife was the daughter of Rav Michael who was head of the Beth Din in Lautenberg for 45 years. He died highly respected and old in 1876. My mother-in-law was the righteous mistress Esther Feiga who died on the 12th day of the month of Av in 1865 in the town of Flensburg aged 36 years.

My father of blessed memory (Avraham Tzvi) was the son (in-law) of the righteous and saintly Morainu Harav Eliyahu, of blessed memory, who was the son (in-law) of the Rav, the Luminary of the Exile, Morainu Harav Ariyeh Leib of blessed memory, Av Beth Din of the Holy Congregation of Kaminsk.

He (Arye Leib) was the son (in law) of the highly esteemed man of God, Morainu Harav Tzvi Hirsh who was called Der Rabbi Reb Hirsh Gelles of Pitrikov, blessed me his memory.

Addendum: (By Baruch Ben Yehuda Leib Eliyahu Margolioth/Trappler).

I am Baruch Margolioth Trappler, born by the name Baruch (Brian) Trappler. My mother was the only daughter of Feigy (Fanny), one of five daughters of Sarah Margolioth (Margaliska) who arrived in Cape Town between 1901 and 1904.

Sarah Margolioth and Elia (probably “Eliyahu” after our Alter Zeida) are the only siblings of from Wolfa Margolioth that we know of who survived the Shoah (Holocaust).

The family legacy was researched by Joan Shaper/Cohen who passed on to me the Yichus Tree narrated by Eliyahu Pearlson, Wolfa Margolioth brother, who was Sarah Margolioth uncle.

Malka`s (Molly Shaper) daughter, Joan Shaper/Cohen, provided me with several official documents, (copied from the Polish Jewish Birth Registry) and pictures of Sarah in Cape Town, and the family in Poland from the early 1900`s, informing me that she had co-ordinated her research with Marcy Pearlson, the daughter of Gustav Pearlson, who was the son of Eliyahu Pearlson, the author of the “Yichus Brief”.

Eliyahu Pearlson and Wolfa Margulskiega were the sons of Pearl and Avram Hirsh Margolioth, as shown in the genealogy chart.

I have also had much success in reconciling the accuracy of Eliyahu Yichus Brief and genealogy chart, with the 823 page “Elef Margolioth” written by Rabbi Israel Arie Margulies in Hebrew, and Edited by Rabbi Meir Wunder in 1993.

While monumental and conclusive, it remains incomplete, as not all of the information on the family has been collected. Regarding our family, Rabbi Wunder`s book ends with Ariyeh Leib Margolioth. That was Sarah Margolioth`s great, great grandfather.

The Yichus brief from Eliyahu Pearlson does well in bridging the gap, since it joins Sarah`s genealogy to Ariyeh Leib, Tzvi Hirsh, Menachem Mendel, and Moshe Mordechai Margolioth.

In terms of the total dynasty of Margolioth Rabbanim, our family line (from the time of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch) enjoyed an intimate friendship with the Baal Shem Tov while he was still a “Tzaddik Nistar”; and after he became revealed as the Master of the Chassidic movement remained within the “inner circle” as his closest disciples.

Rabbi Israel Arie Margulies, Admur of Premishlan in London, and author of the Opus Magnum Elef Margolioth emphasizes that the Margolioth family is regarded as a single tree; an unbroken link to King David, and Jacob’s son Yehuda. (Elef Margolioth; see Meir Margolioth).

As part of Davidic tradition, lineage was passed down either via paternal or maternal lineage. Rashi had three daughters. The son-in-laws of Rashi were Rebeinu Tam and the Baalei Tosfos.

The name Margolioth was adopted by Rashi`s Grandson, Rebeinu Tam to honor Rashi`s father, Reb Yitzchak. The story of Reb Yitzchak throwing his most precious stone into the ocean to prevent it from being used to embellish the Bishop`s scepter is a well-documented legend in Jewish history.

The act of self-sacrifice, and its connection to Rashi`s birth, is what lead to Rebeinu Tam adopting the name “Precious Stone” (Margolioth), and lead to the custom of future son-in laws to change their names of origin to Margolioth upon marriage to a Margolioth daughter.

This system also ensured the unbroken linkage with the Davidic Dynasty.

For instance, Menachem Mendel Margulies was born as Menachem Mendel Ben Yoel – Feivish Shtenger. When he married Sheindel Margolius, the daughter of Moshe Mordechai Margolius, he changed his last name from Shtenger to Margolius. He was Av Bais Din of Premishlan in Poland.

Mendel Margolioth had a son named Eliyahu, who later assumed the position of Av Bais Din of Premishlan.

It would also explain why Eliyahu became a recurring name within the family.

Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsch Margolioth was the son of Eliyahu Margolioth.

Mendel and Sheindel also had seven daughters, one of whom married Mordechai Mardosh Auerbach.

They had a son- Rabbi Arye Leib, and a daughter-Sheinza Auerbach.

Once Sheinza married her cousin Tzvi Hirsch, (mutual grandchildren of Mendel and Sheindel Margolioth), both her and her brother Arye Leib adopted their original name ‘Margolioth`.

Arye Leib was a Torah giant, renowned Gaon in the revealed and esoteric aspects. Yet the author of Elef Margolioth concedes that his father`s name remains a mystery.

Tzvi Hirsch Margolioth, Av Bais Din of Yezlavich, married Sheinza Auerbach, sister of Harav HaGoan Ariyeh Leib Auerbach, Av Bais Din of Stanislaw.

Sheinza and Ariyeh Leib were the children of Harav HaGoan Mordechai Mardosh Auerbach Av Bais Din of Stanislaw.

In the Magnum Opus Elef Margolioth, Rabbi Wunder concedes that Ariyeh Leib`s father`s name remains a mystery.

(In keeping with the family tradition) Ariyeh Leib (Auerbach- Margolioth) had a daughter Raizel married her cousin Rabbi Meir Margolioth, the son of Tzvi Hirsch; and Sheinza Margolioth/ Auerbach.

This explains the difficulty Rabbi Wunder had in identifying the lineage of the Saintly Ariyeh Leib:

While he was born to the esteemed Rabbi Mordechai Mardush Auerbach, he reverted his name to Margolioth after his maternal Grandparents, Mendel and Raizel.

In addition to his sister Sheinza marrying Tzvi Hirsch Margolioth, his daughter Raizel now became married to his nephew, Rabbi Meir Margolioth, the son of his sister, Sheinza Auerbach/Margolioth.

Tzvi Hirsch and Sheinza had two sons, Yitzchak Dov and Meir, who were “of the first Talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov” (prior to his Hisgalut (revelation) as Tzaddik (Saint) and were referred to by the BSHT as his closest (original) students (also referred to as to as “Hasidim Harishonim”).

I have enclosed the story pertaining to this from “Tales of the Baal Shem Tov, The Unique Siddur”, Volume II, Chapter IV, Mishor Publishing, Bnei Brak, 1989, “Emunas Tzaddikim”.

In addition, Rabbi Shalom Ber Levin, Curator of the Lubavitch Library, was kind enough to make a digital file of the Baal Shem Tov`s hand-written Siddur (Ktav Yad Kodesh) where my Alter-Alter Zeidi`s name is inscribed in the margin by the words “Es Tzemech David” (May the House of David be rebuilt).

Sheinza Margolioth, our great-great grandmother, was the wife of Tzvi Hirsch Margolioth, and the sister of Arye Leib Auerbach.

Meir Margolioth parents were Tzvi Hirsch Margolioth and Sheinza Auerbach/ Margolioth.

Meir married his cousin Raizel Margolioth, who was the daughter of Meir`s maternal uncle Arye Leib (Sheinza`s brother, born Auerbach).

While Meir`s mother Sheinza Margolioth was the sister of Arye Leib Auerbach, he and his wife Raizel were also cousins.

In the schematic version of the genealogy, the use of a zigzag indicates maternally transmitted lineage, while a straight line indicates paternally transmitted lineage.

In the majority of cases within the Margolioth dynasty, husbands assumed the name of Margolioth after marrying the daughter of a Margolioth.

The custom was perpetuated in order to maintain the continuity of the Davidic Dynasty.

Throughout Jewish prayer and liturgy the offspring of Jews worship daily for the re-establishment of the “House of David”.

Integral to Jewish faith is the belief that the Messiah will sprout from the House of David and that at the end of time, the rulership of King David`s Monarchy will be openly restored.

There is a single discrepancy between the Eli Pearlson’s schematic Genealogy Tree from that published in Elef Margolioth by Rabbi Wunder:

Pearlson`s schematic Genealogy Tree mistakenly places Ariyeh Leib as being Tzvi-Hirsch`s son.

However, Rabbi Wunder`s assertion that Tzvi Hirsch had only two sons, Yitzchak Dov, and Meir has been confirmed.

Indeed, Eliyahu Pearlson was the grandson of Eliyahu Margolioth, who was the grandson of Tzvi Hirsch.

Arye-Leib Margolioth/Auerbach position in the Tree needs to be corrected to reflect this new information.

It is documented in “Elef Margolioth” that the Baal Shem Tov told Meir Margolioth that the lineage of Margolioth is one of only three unbroken chains to the sons of Jacob, the others being Horowitz and Schapiro.

In similar fashion, my great-grandfather Wolfe Margaliska, (Sarah`s father) was the son of Pearl Margolioth; Pearl was the daughter of Eliyahu Margulies, who was the granddaughter of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Margolioth.

Rabbi Avraham Tzvi, took on the name “Margolioth”  following his marriage to Pearl Margolioth.

The author of the Yichus Brief, Eliyahu Pearlson, therefore errs when he says that `his father Avram Tzvi is the son of Morainu Harav Eliyahu, when in fact he is the son-in-law, having married Pearl, the daughter of Eliyahu.

(The serious oversight of maternal lineage occurs repeatedly in Eliyahu Pearlson`s Yichus Brief, and appears to be the source of repeated confusion regarding the names of origin of the rabbis marrying into the family and adopting the Margolioth name).

Practically, it does not affect the lineage, because the grandchildren are regarded as Margolioth whether the lineage is maternal or paternal.

Unfortunately, after Elia and Sarah, the name Margolioth ceased to be used in our family; Elia changed his name to Ellis. Sarah had five daughters who took upon themselves their husbands` family names.

(Continuation of Eliyahu’s Yichus Brief):

“He had two sons, one was the grandfather of my father, blessed be his memory, the Rav Av Beth Din of Kaminsk as already mentioned above. The other son was the esteemed Rav Moshe Haraf, blessed be his memory who was the stepfather of the Holy Rav, the paragon of his generation, Morainu Harav Yechiel Meir, blessed be his memory, Rav of Menastanin, whose name was known the world over”.

His mother’s name was Gittel, daughter of the man of substance Morainu Harav Ariyeh Leib Mezalashin, and his wife was the mother of my grandmother whose name was Leah, daughter of the highly esteemed Morainu Harav, blessed be his Holy and glorious name and his memory, Rav Shmuel, Av Beth Din of the Holy Congregation of Zalashin.

His tombstone had the inscription: ‘From the time of Shmuel unto Shmuel there was none like Shmuel’.
He was the grandson of the Holy Gaon Maharshah (Rabbi Shmuel Eidels, a famous 17th century Talmudist), named after him, who had two sons and one daughter.

The daughter became the mother of my grandmother Gittel and of the sons, one was the Holy Gaon, paragon of his generation, Morainu Harav (Der Rabbi Asher Eidels – Head of a Yeshiva in Eretz Israel who lived and died there.

The other son was a man of substance and wisdom in the community, Reb Itshele. People came to him for advice, travelling as many as 100 para-sangs (400 miles), as if one asks of the Urim and Turim. His son-in-law became the father-in-law of the learned Gaon Morainu Harav Yitzchak Chaim Auerbach of Landshitz father of the saintly Holy Rav Morainu Harav Meir Auerbach, head of yeshivas in Israel. May their merit sustain us.

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2 Comments
  1. A. M. permalink

    I am touched and impressed by the yichud brief penned by rabbi Pearson- Margolios of Hull. And fascinated to read that the rabbi in Penzance in the 1870s was from a distinguished German rabbinical lineage.

    • Thank you for your keen observation. Some nuances that may interest you:
      1) The “Yichus Brif” (meaning “letter of Genealogy” in Yiddish) was the springboard by which my aunt Joan Shaper/Cohen requested that I proceed with one component of the research that she and her daughter Hillary Meyer had pursued for the previous 40 years. Aunt Joan is Thank God alive and well at 90-years old living in Cape Town. During her research she travelled to Hull and even Poland where she she obtained the Birth-Record of her Maternal Grandmother, Sarah Margolios from the Polish Birth-Registry. In the expanded narrative, Elia Pearlson`s original letter is translated into English. I will post it as well. In 1975 the Magnum Opus “Elef Margalioth” (One Thousand Pearls) was edited and printed in Hebrew by Rabbi Wunder. The compendium is an attempt to include hundreds of information-fragments from the expanded family, and was very successful since anecdotes were gathered from Jacob Margolioth, from the 14th century. “Elia” a shortened version of “Eliyahu”, a name that repeats itself within the family-tree, and “Pearlson” is the English adaptation of “Pearl”, translated from the word “precious stone”. Thats why I posted the accurate but simplified story from a children`s book, describing the miraculous escape of Isaac, the diamond-merchant from the hands of the Bishop of France who coveted the most precious stone in Isaac`s possession, for use in his Scepter. In the process of analysing the information from our particular family line, I discovered several inconsequential errors:
      2) The importance of preserving the Yichus is declared in the opening paragraph of the Introduction of Elef Margolioth, where the Baal Shem Tov tells his student Meir Margolioth, that this was the maternal line of descent of King David.
      3) In order to ensure the continuity of his offspring, King David`s Son-In-Laws appeared to have maintained some form of name-recognition so that their children would be recognised as being as much a part of his Dynasty as the grandchildren from his sons and grandsons.
      4) When looking at the Genealogy Tree of Margolioth, they originate from Rashi’s daughter married to Rabbeinu Tam. His other daughter married the Rashbam, and the third daughter became more assimilated into the French Aristocracy (related personally by Sylvia Weitzner).
      5) Regarding the two most prominent scholars of their times, Moses Mordechai Margolioth, and Menachem Mendel Margolioth, neither were born as “Margolioth”.
      6) For instance, Menachem Mendel Margulies was born as Menachem Mendel Ben Yoel – Feivish Shtenger. When he married Sheindel Margolius, the daughter of Moshe Mordechai Margolius, he changed his last name from Shtenger to Margolius. He was Av Bais Din of Premishlan in Poland.
      8) Mendel Margolioth had a son named Eliyahu, who later assumed the position of Av Bais Din of Premishlan. This would also explain why Eliyahu became a recurring name within the family.
      9) Rabbi Tzvi-Hirsh Margolioth was the son of Eliyahu Margolioth.
      Mendel and Sheindel also had seven daughters, one of whom married Mordechai Mardosh Auerbach.
      10) The daughter of Mendel and Sheindel that married Mordechai Mardosh Auerbach had a son- Rabbi Arye Leib, and a daughter–Sheinza.
      Prior to marriage, they went under the name of Auerbach. But upon the marriage of Sheinza Auerbach to her cousin cousin Tzvi Hirsch, (mutual grandchildren of Mendel and Sheindel Margolioth), both she and her brother Arye Leib re-adopted their original name ‘Margolioth’.
      11) This appears to have evaded Elia Pearlson, who went on to refer to his maternal great-grandfathers as if they were paternal.
      12) Only when looking at the expanded Genealogy Tree in Elef Margolioth (unavailable at the time of Elia`s writing), does this become clear.

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