Josef Nachod was born February 12, 1813 in Prague (House # 1 in the Jewish ghetto) to Gabriel Nachod and Eva Zodex. This was during the Napoleonic wars in Russia and Germany. One of the two witnesses to his birth was his father’s first cousin Moses Mislap. Josef’s older brother Philip went to Vienna to study medicine and was baptized. As a result, Josef was not allowed by his parents to continue his education.
Josef was an inn-keeper in Prague (address 6/8). According to his 100-page police file, in 1849 he was cited for staying open too late (past 11 o’clock). In 1854, he got in trouble for employing two unlicensed musicians. In 1857, Josef was prosecuted for insulting the honor of a Maximilian Schmidt (age 81) by calling him a “taškár” (someone who makes a joke of not paying his debts) in front of the man’s wife.
In 1869, Josef moved his family to Vienna. He died in 1884 and is buried in the Vienna Zentralfriedhof, T1 G5b R(2)7 N40.
Pauline was born April 7, 1848 in Prague, during a time of revolution. Her family belonged to the Altneuschul in the old Prague ghetto. In 1869 her family moved to Leopoldstadt in Vienna (Taborstrasse 4), where she married Samuel Schönberg from Szécsény, Hungary in 1872. Her family was poor and her father Josef Nachod had to apply for a waiver of fees for the marriage license. The wedding took place in the Leopoldstadt Temple, the largest synagogue in Vienna’s very Jewish second district.
Pauline and Samuel had four children. The first child, Adele (1872), died as an infant. The other three were Arnold (1874), Ottilie (1876) and Heinrich (1882). In December 1881, Pauline’s brother and sister-in-law died in the Ringtheater Fire, leaving two young daughters, Mela and Olga. Pauline took the two girls into her home. In 1889, Pauline’s husband Samuel died in 1889 from a bad medicine prescription, leaving Pauline, age 41, a widow with her three children and two foster children. Her son Arnold called her “very self-sacrificing, unselfish, selfless, and humble.”
In her later years, Pauline moved to Berlin to be with her daughter Ottilie. She died in 1921 and was buried in a Protestant cemetery. The cemetery book was burned in a fire, and during the Nazi period her daughter Ottilie had a new death record created to make it seem that Pauline was Protestant, although she was Jewish and had never converted. As a result, her grave site was not preserved and no longer exists.
Arnold Schoenberg(1874-1951), considered the father of modern music, was the greatest and most influential composer of his generation. He was born in Vienna on September 13, 1874 to Samuel Schönberg and Pauline Nachod, and lived for several periods in Berlin. He fled the Nazis in 1933 and arrived in Los Angeles in 1934, remaining there for the remainder of his life. Schoenberg was married twice, first to Mathilde von Zemlinsky with two children, and then in 1924 to Gertrud Kolisch, with whom he had three more children — Nuria (1932), Ronald (1937) and Lawrence (1941).
Schoenberg was a great composition teacher, with pupils including Alban Berg, Anton Webern and John Cage. He composed in various styles, beginning with the late romantic period, led the way to atonal composition and then invented the 12-tone method. At various times he also composed works in a more traditionally tonal style. He wrote a number of books on composition and music theory, many of which are still in use today. He also painted and exhibited in the first Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich. In Los Angeles, Schoenberg became friends with George Gershwin, who painted his portrait and filmed him in his home movies. His pupil Serge Hovey also took color film of Schoenberg in Malibu.
Schoenberg was raised Jewish, but converted to Protestantism in 1898 in order to be able to conduct and earn a living. After fleeing from Berlin to Paris in 1933, he returned to Judaism, with a formal document signed by Rabbi Louis-Germain Levy, the artist Marc Chagall and Dmitry Marianoff (the step-son-in-law of Albert Einstein). Several of Schoenberg’s compositions have religious themes, including, Friede auf Erden (Peace of Earth), Weihnachtsmusik (Christmas music), Die Jakobsleiter (Jacob’s Ladder), Moses und Aron, Du sollst nicht ein Bild machen (Thou shall not make a graven image), Kol Nidre, Prelude to Genesis, A Survivor from Warsaw, Psalm 130 (De Profundis) and Modern Psalm. He even drafted sketches for a Jewish Symphony. In the early 1920s he suffered an anti-Semitic incident while summering in the Salzburg area. A famous 1923 exchange with the painter Wassily Kandinsky over anti-Semitism at the Bauhaus includes a warning about the danger of Hitler. Thereafter, he wrote a proto-Zionist play called Der biblische Weg (The biblical path), and then numerous articles and speeches concerning Jewish affairs and the plight of Jews under Hitler.
Randy Schoenberg was born September 12, 1966 in Los Angeles, California to Ronald Schoenberg and Barbara Zeisl Schoenberg. Randy is well-known as the attorney who recovered five famous paintings by Gustav Klimt from the Austrian government, the subject of the 2015 film Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.
Randy grew up in the old Schoenberg house at 116 N. Rockingham Ave in Brentwood. He attended college at Princeton University, where he majored in Mathematics and European Cultural Studies. In 1987 Randy spent a junior semester abroad learning German and math in West Berlin (where also his uncle Luigi Nono was living at the time). Randy attended law school at the University of Southern California and became a litigator. After going out on his own and winning the Klimt case, Randy helped build a new Holocaust museum in Los Angeles. He is a lifelong, avid genealogist and lectures on genealogy as well as various topics in art law.
Randy’s wife is Pam and he has three children, Dora (23), Nathan (21) and Joey (17). Randy is Jewish. He was raised in the Reform community, but now attends a Conservative temple and keeps a kosher home, following his wife’s Orthodox family tradition. Randy’s grandfathers were the Austrian-American composersArnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) and Eric Zeisl (1905-1959).
Nuria Schoenberg Nono was born ay 7, 1932 in Barcelona, Spain to the composer Arnold Schoenberg and Gertrud Kolisch Schoenberg. The family fled from Berlin in May 1933 and arrived in the United States later that year. Nuria grew up in Los Angeles. In 1954 she travelled to Europe to attend the first performance of her father’s opera Moses und Aron in Hamburg, and met the Italian composer Luigi Nono (1924-1990). They married the following year in Nono’s home town of Venice, Italy, where she has lived ever since. Nuria is the author of a document biography of her father, Arnold Schönberg 1874–1951: Eine Lebensgeschichte in Begegnungen (1992), is the President of the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna, and is also the founder of the Archivio Luigi Nono on the Giudecca in Venice, where she works to preserve the legacy of her late husband.
Nuria has two daughter, Silvia and Serena. She has two brothers Ronald and Lawrence who both live in Los Angeles. Nuria and her brothers were raised Catholic, although their father had re-converted to Judaism. Their mother came from a converted family and was Catholic, but three of her four grandparents were born Jewish.
When Nuria was born May 7, 1932, she was named Dorothea Nuria after the patron saint of her birthplace of Barcelona, Spain, where her father was taking leave from his post at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin to compose his opera Moses und Aron. Already at the time of Nuria’s birth the Schoenbergs were looking to leave Berlin and move to the United States to escape the escalating anti-Semitism in Germany. They fled from Berlin to Paris by train on the evening of May 16-17, 1933, and after a summer in Arcachon, France, came to the United States, arriving in New York on the Ile de France on October 31, 1933. In America the spelling of the family name was changed from Schönberg to Schoenberg.
The family spent one winter on the East Coast, living in Brookline, Massachusetts and a summer in Chatauqua, New York, before moving to Hollywood in September, 1934. Nuria was just two years old, and she would spend the rest of her childhood in Southern California, most of it in the Brentwood home that the Schoenbergs moved to in 1936 and purchased in 1937, shortly before the birth of Nuria’s brother Rudolf Ronald (“Ronnie”) on May 26 of that year. Nuria’s youngest brother Lawrence (“Larry”) Adam was born on January 27, 1941. Nuria and her parents became naturalized U.S. citizens in April 1941.
A typical meal in the Schoenberg home at that time is described by the young Schoenberg pupil Dika Newlin in her diary entry for October 15, 1940:
When the work was finally done, we went in to lunch: liverwurst, braunschweiger with pistachio nuts, avocado slices, lettuce with French dressing, raw apples and grapes, rye bread, and coffee; the whole flavored with a delightful atmosphere more pleasant to the palate than the most exotic spices. Old Mrs. Kolisch was at the table with us, and so was baby Ronnie, whose adorable prattle kept us in stitches all the time. Right in the middle of the meat course, what should he do but stand up on his chair and start pounding the table, yelling “We Want Woosevelt!” at the top of his voice! Such practices, Mrs. Schoenberg tells me, don’t meet with Nuria’s approval at all; she’ll wear a Willkie button on one side and a Roosevelt button on the other till after the election!
In Los Angeles, Nuria’s friends included Lotte Klemperer (daughter of the conductor Otto Klemperer) and Franzi Toch (daughter of the composer Ernst Toch). Franzi’s son Lawrence Weschler recounts an amusing story involving Nuria and his mother:
Franzi used to tell a story about how several years later, in the late 1940s, she and her close friend, Schoenberg’s daughter Nuria, went on a double date. In fact, this was to be the seventeen-year-old Nuria’s first such outing. When Franzi and the two escorts arrived at the front door of the Schoenberg manse on Rockingham, a tense but proper Schoenberg was there to present his daughter. Sternly, he inquired, “What time will Nuria be home?” “Well,” replied one of the young men, “let’s see, the opera downtown will end around eleven, and then there’s the ride back” – remember, this was in the days before the Santa Monica Freeway – “and we’ll probably go out for a snack—we should be back by about one-thirty.” “Oh,” frowned Schoenberg. “Do you have to go out for a snack? Couldn’t I give you a sardine sandwich to take along?” 
Nuria attended University Elementary School, Emerson Junior High School, Happy Valley School in Ojai, and University High School. In 1950 she matriculated at the University of California at Los Angeles, where her father had taught from 1936 to 1944. At this time Nuria also worked on the English translation of Gurrelieder and prepared the Speaker’s role under her father’s supervision. Her father died on July 13, 1951, when Nuria was 19 years old. Nuria was a pre-med major and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA in 1953.
In March 1954, Nuria traveled with her mother to Hamburg for the concert premiere of Moses und Aron, where she was introduced by her uncle Rudi Kolisch to her future husband Luigi (“Gigi”) Nono (b. 29 Jan 1924 Venice, d. 8 May 1990 Venice). Gigi had studied with Rudi at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse since 1950. In 1955, Nuria and Gigi were married in Venice, Italy, where Nuria has resided since that time. Their daughter Silvia was born May 16, 1959, and daughter Serena Bastiana was born on November 14, 1964.
After the death of her mother on February 14, 1967, Nuria and her two brothers worked to preserve the estate of their parents, which was donated to the Arnold Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California in 1977 and moved to the Arnold Schönberg Center Privatstiftung in Vienna in 1997. After Gigi’s death on May 8, 1990, Nuria established the Archivio Luigi Nono in Venice in 1993. Nuria serves as president of the board of both the Arnold Schönberg Center Privatstiftung and the Achivio Luigi Nono. Her leadership has established these two archives at the forefront of the world’s musicological research facilities, with an emphasis on state of the art technology and open access.
Nuria has assisted with numerous exhibitions and publications concerning Schoenberg and Nono. In 1974 she helped set up the Arnold Schoenberg centenary exhibitions in Berlin and Vienna, and the first complete exhibition of Schoenberg’s paintings and drawings in 1991 in Vienna. Nuria has written numerous articles on Schoenberg, including one in conjunction with the publication of his playing cards by Piatnik. In 1992, Nuria published a large documentary biography of her father, Arnold Schoenberg 1874-1951: Lebensgeschichte in Begegnungen (Ritter: Klagenfurt 1992, paperback 1995). She is also the designer and producer of the traveling Schoenberg multimedia exhibition which has toured from 1996 to the present. In 1993, she edited the exhibition Luigi Nono 1924-1990 which has been shown in Salzburg, Lisbon, Reggio Emilia, Ferrara, Brussels, Rome, Schwaz and Stuttgart. She continues to be actively involved in numerous projects and publications concerning Schoenberg and Nono.
Arnold Schoenberg Letters, Erwin Stein ed., p. 164 (Faber & Faber: London 1964). Letter to Dr. Joseph Asch in New York, May 24, 1932 “Will you make an attempt to get some rich Jews to provide for me so that I do not have to go back to Berlin among the swastika-swaggers and pogromists?” The family flew by airplane from Barcelona to Berlin on June 1, 1932, Nuria’s first flight.
 The family did not practice any organized religion until about 1944, when Ronnie began attending a Catholic school and all the children were sent to the local church (without their parents) regularly. Nuria’s confirmation name was Nuria Dorothea Maria Bernadette Schoenberg (names suggesting the influence of Alma Mahler, whose husband Franz Werfel had just written Das Lied von Bernadette). The family celebrated Christmas, with Schoenberg pupil Adolph Weiss often playing the role of Santa Claus.
 Dika Newlin, Schoenberg Remembered: Diaries and Recollections 1938-1976, p. 265(Pendragon Press: New York 1980).
 Lawrence Weschler, “Paradise: The Southern California Idyll of Hitler’s Cultural Exiles,” Exiles + Emigrés: the Flight of European Artists from Hitler, Stefanie Barron, ed., p. 344 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Los Angeles 1997).
 During this time, Nuria has also spent several years living in London and Los Angeles.
Serena’s sister Silvia lives in Rome and is an editor and translator. Silvia is the former partner of the well-known filmmaker Nanni Moretti. They have a son Pietro (24), Serena’s nephew, who is a painter in London. Serena’s father Luigi Nono (1924-1990) descends from an old Venetian family. His grandfather, also called Luigi Nono (1850-1918), was a famous painter. Nono’s ancestors include the Priuli family. Lorenzo Priuli (1489-1559) was the 82nd Doge of Venice. His brother Girolamo Priuli (1486-1567) served as the 83rd Doge of Venice.
Serena is Catholic, but is increasingly interested in her Jewish background.
Synopsis: Venetian painter Serena Nono goes on a journey of historical and religious discovery with her cousin the restitution lawyer Randy Schoenberg, exploring the deep Jewish roots of her grandfather, the composer Arnold Schoenberg through Vienna and Prague back to the founding families of the old Jewish ghetto in Venice.
Serena, who was born and lives in Venice, travels with her cousin Randy from Los Angeles to Vienna and Prague, exploring the rich Jewish, cultural and scientific history of their ancestors, before returning to her home town of Venice, where she discovers the grave of an ancestor, Fioretta, buried 450 years ago in the old cemetery on the Lido. Along the way, they meet a variety of people who are deeply engaged in the exploration and preservation of Jewish history in Central Europe. These include, a haberdasher writing a genealogical encyclopedia of Jewish Vienna, a hat-maker restoring an ancient cemetery, a woman memorializing the Jews who once lived on her street, an actor photographing Jewish cemeteries in the Czech countryside, and a child hidden from the Holocaust who now, age 91, takes care of the old cemetery on the Lido, as well as historians, archivists and museum caretakers who are the custodians of precious Jewish artifacts and religious sites.
While some of Serena’s ancestors are evidenced only by a tombstone or an archival record, others have left behind a rich trove of historical records and stories, intersecting with Emperors, Kings and Popes, as well as famous scientists and musicians. The journey includes, as it must, the so-called “lacrymose history of the Jews” beginning with the Inquisition in the Kingdom of Naples and the establishment of the ghetto in Venice, and continuing with expulsions and persecutions in Vienna and Prague, concluding with the Holocaust, which also touched members of Serena and Randy’s family.
The genealogical record follows the path below, with each reference including the historical and genealogical data and artifacts available for discovery. Each number represents a single generation.
I’ve been using Clubhouse, the new audio-only social media app for iPhone since January. It works pretty well. Sort of like being at a big conference where you can pop your head into any room and listen to what people are saying. The rooms are user-generated and moderated, so even though anyone can come in, the moderators get to decide who can speak on stage. So it’s not quite as much of a free-for-all as Facebook or Twitter.
Anyway, one of the things I wanted to do was play some music in a room. That isn’t really possible on the iPhone because the app uses your phone number (like a phone call) and the phone only has one audio feed that is used for the mic with your own voice. So you could play music in your room and feed it through the mic, but that’s not idea.
Some folks on Clubhouse suggested I try iRig 2, so I ordered that but when it arrived it didn’t work for me. I didn’t yet have a 1/8 to 1/4 jack cord to send audio from my computer to the iRig. The iRig looked more designed for people who want to play an electric guitar or keyboard and plug it into their phone. So I googled around to see if there was another solution.
And I found Clubdeck, a free app for desktop or laptop (Mac and PC) that emulates the iPhone Clubhouse app on your computer. What it does is take your pone number and then re-route and emulate your phone on your computer over the Internet. (If you have used WhatsApp on your computer it’s pretty much the same type of thing.) The Clubdeck user interface is pretty good and has almost all of the features that Clubhouse does. Plus you can see different things at one time, like the room you are in and the hallway and someone’s profile.
But I also wanted to try to feed audio to Clubhouse from the Music app or from a browser, so I needed another app that could combine that audio stream with the mic picking up my voice. And I found Loopback from Rogue Amoeba. It’s a free download for a 20 minute trial, but then you need to pay a $99 license fee.
I found some good articles about Loopback, but none that explicitly described how to do what I wanted it to do. So here’s the setup that worked for me. The only thing else I needed were headphones, like the ones that came with my iPhone which I could plug into my laptop.
When you use Loopback, you set up a “Device” (which you can re-name) and then have three columns for Sources, Output Channels and Monitors. The Sources are the inputs that you potentially want to combine. In my case it was the Built-in Microphone, Clubdeck, Google Chrome and Music. When you create a Device, Loopback creates a Source called Pass-Thru, but you can delete that once you’ve added the sources you need.
Next you need to set up two Outputs (each with two channels for left and right). The neat thing about Loopback is that you can delete or draw connections between the Sources and the Output Channels however you want. I connected the first Output Channel (Channels 1 & 2) to all four of the Sources. But for the second Output Channel (Channels 3 & 4), I connected Clubdeck, Google Chrome and Music, but NOT the Built-in-Microphone. This is important because I don’t want to be able to hear my voice from the Built-in-Microphone in my headphones. I then set up a Monitor called Built-in-Output in the third column that is connected only to the second Output Channel (Channels 3 & 4), the one without the Built-in Microphone.
When I am on Clubdeck, I need to set the Audio settings so that the Audio playback is set to the default (Built-in Output) which is the Monitor we just created on Loopback without the Built-in-Microphone, and the Audio recording (mic) is set to the default (Clubhouse), which is the Device we just created on Loopback that combines all of the inputs Sources for us.
Finally, I went to my laptop’s System Preferences: Sound and selected the Input as Clubhouse (the name of the Device I created on Loopback). For Output I selected my Headphones. This way I hear on my headphones the same as what everyone else hears on Clubhouse, without adding in an annoying and slightly-delayed version of my own voice. The Sound preferences give you ways to adjust the Input level and Output volume, and Loopback also gives me lots of options for monitoring and adjusting volume from those sources.
I hope this helps. It took me a while to figure this all out, and I wanted to record it for myself in case I need to set it all up again.
When most people talk about using DNA for genealogy research, they are talking about autosomal DNA, which is most of the DNA you get from your parents. It can be difficult to use autosomal DNA for genealogy because the matching segments can come from either your father or your mother, and it’s hard to figure out which side. But with Y-DNA, you know where it comes from. Y-DNA is passed only from father to son. As a result, only men can test their Y-DNA. The results can be useful to study the origin of surnames, and to find families with different surnames who have common paternal ancestor.
Although Ancestry, MyHeritage and 23andMe have all built enormous DNA databases that can be used for genealogy, the company with the largest Y-DNA database is familytreedna.com. A basic test can cost $99, while the most detailed Y-DNA test, currently the Big Y-700 costs $379. If you are male, you can take the test yourself and get results for your paternal line. But it is worth exploring how we can use Y-DNA to find out about other ancestors. The key is finding a male line descendant to test.
We each have two grandfathers. Your Y-DNA test will give you the Y-DNA that comes from just one of them, your father’s father. But what about your mother’s father? You don’t have the Y-DNA from him, but if you can find a male line descendant, you can get that information. I tested my mother’s first cousin, the son of her father’s brother, to get the Y-DNA of my maternal grandfather. The same process can be used to get Y-DNA from your other male ancestors. You just need to go up the tree to that ancestor and then trace back down on the male line. if you can find a male-line descendant, you can test him and get the Y-DNA that will help you learn more about the origins of that ancestral line.
Geni.com offers several tools that can help you find male line descendants of your ancestors. Geni.com also has a DNA feature that works together with familytreedna.com, so you can easily upload and link your results, both Y-DNA and autosomal, and find matches on Geni. Here are the methods I use to find people who can provide Y-DNA for my ancestors:
If you go to your profile page on Geni (which you can get to by clicking on your name in the upper right corner of your home screen and selecting View Your Profile), you can use the Actions menu button in the upper right to generate an Ancestor Report.
The Ancestor Report (which you can also generate from any profile on Geni, not just your own) allows you to see a nice display of all of your ancestors. You can adjust the number of generations it shows, up to twenty (which should be plenty).
Let’s say I am looking for a Y-DNA descendant for my father’s mother’s father, Rudolf Rafael Kolisch in the example above. Because he isn’t on my paternal line, I need to find another person to test. Clicking on his name in the ancestor report will take me to his profile page. From there I scroll down until I see a row of tabs beginning with Overview. The last one is DNA.
When I click on the DNA tab I get a display with a number of different options. Under the big green box where they are trying to get me to buy a DNA kit from MyHeritage (which doesn’t even work yet with Geni, even though they are the same company) you can see the section for Y-DNA (paternal line only). The blue hyperlink under the Y-DNA section says View a list of living people who can be tested for Y-DNA that should match Rudolf Rafael Kolisch. I want to click on that.
When I click on the blue hyperlinked text to view the people I can test, it takes me to a new page which lists the potential Y-DNA candidates. For my great-grandfather Kolisch, there is just one, my third cousin Petr Kolisch. He is the only male-line descendant of my great-grandfather Rudolf Rafael Kolisch, the only one in the family who can provide his Y-DNA.
You can actually get to this type of page from anywhere on Geni. All you have to do is click on the Family tab at the top of the page and select Lists.
Once you are on the Lists page, you can use the advanced controls and choose the Focus Person, choose the Group Y-DNA Relatives, and Refine the List to just Living people to find potential Y-DNA relatives (not just descendants) of the Focus Person who could be tested. If you filter for Users only, you’ll get a list of Geni users who could be tested and you can easily click to send them a message asking if they are willing to take a Y-DNA test. (One tip: when selecting the focus person, sometimes it helps to use the profile id number, which is the long number in the url/internet address of the person’s profile page. So for example, my profile page is at https://www.geni.com/people/Randy-Schoenberg/6000000002764082210 and my profile id is 6000000002764082210.)
There are a few other tricks you can use on Geni. The first is to try to send a message to all of the Geni users who are descendants of an ancestor. First you go to your mailbox, which you get to by clicking on the little box next to the search field in the upper right and selecting Inbox Messages.
Then you click on Compose, the blue box over on the left.
Next, underneath the To: field there’s a row of options and the last one is Descendants of. Click on that.
It will ask you to type in the name of the profile, but you can also use the profile id number here, which may work better.
Once you have selected the profile, Geni will populate the address field with all of the Geni users who are descendants of the profile (up to a limit). This isn’t just the male-line descendants but it’s sometimes useful to cast a wide net and contact all of the descendants of your ancestor who are Geni users, in case one of them is in contact with a Y-DNA descendant who is not on Geni.
Finally, there are several ways to use descendant charts to find descendants. On Geni, similar to the Ancestor Report, you can use the Actions menu to create a Descendant Report for any profile.
The Descendant Report is not limited to male line descendants but it can be very useful anyway, especially if there are male lines that still need to be developed. Often people leave off the living relatives on Geni and so you may need to identify those branches that still need to be explored and filled out.
There is also an application called HistoryLink created by a Geni curator, Jeff Gentes, which you can use to identify male-line branches and descendants. Go to https://historylinktools.herokuapp.com/ and click on Ancestor Graph in lower right corner.
You’ll need to authorize the app (by logging into Geni if you aren’t logged in yet). It looks initially like it only creates an Ancestor graph, but you can change that to descendants. First change the focus person (once again having the profile id number is a real help), and then click to change Ancestors to Descendants. Then you can select the number of generations (up to 15 for a Descendant Graph) and you can even limit the results to just the male Y-DNA lines. Then click to Build Graph. It creates both a circular graph and an ordinary descendant chart with links to the Geni profiles. This technique is especially useful in identifying male lines from more distant ancestors that might still need to be built out so you can find a male line descendant to test.
Using all of these techniques you can begin to collect Y-DNA samples from the male line descendants of each of your male ancestors. It’s a great way to learn something new, perhaps something deeper than what your ordinary paper-trail genealogy can tell you.
Postscript: If you are testing Jewish Y-DNA you should definitely join the Avotaynu DNA Project, which is an academic study of Jewish Y-DNA results.
The small Ramschak family from Prague has had more than its fair share of notoriety, and yet until now, no one has discovered the source of its unusual family name. Rabbi Eleaser Fleckeles-Ramschak (1754 Prague – 1826 Prague) was an author of several important rabbinic works, as well as a nine-generation handwritten family tree that has been the primary source for information on his paternal ancestors who used the Ramschak name. The two-page family tree was discovered after the rabbi’s death among papers owned by Leipzig Rabbi Nathan Porges (1848 Prostejov – 1924 Würzburg) by the eminent genealogist Prof. David Kaufmann (1852 Kojetin – 1899 Karlovy Vary). Kaufmann recognized the handwriting of Rabbi Fleckeles from the community record book of his home town of Kojetin in Moravia, where Fleckeles had served as rabbi from 1779-1783 before being appointed to a rabbinic position in Prague as assistant and later successor to Rabbi Ezechiel Landau (1713 Opatow – 1793 Prague).
Rabbi Fleckeles’ family tree, which was published by Kaufmann in 1893 (Kaufmann, Der Stammbaum des R. Eleasar Fleckeles: eine Ahenprobe Moritz Hartmanns, Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, Jahrg. 37 (N. F. 1), H. 8 (1893), pp. 378-392), claimed that his paternal lineage went as follows: Eleazarb. David b. Wolf b. Shalom b. Selig b. David b. Wolfb. David b. Wolf, where the last Wolf was alleged to be the son-in-law of the famous Jewish historian, mathematician and astronomer in Prague, David Gans (1541 Lippstadt – 1613 Prague) who collaborated with and assisted Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.
In the early 1820s, the historian Marcus Fischer (1783 Prague – 1858 Prague), a grandson of Rabbi Meir Fischel-Bunzel (d. 1769 Prague), created an infamous forgery (known as the “Ramschak Chronicle”) purporting to be an ancient chronicle of the Prague Jewish community. Fischer filled three notebooks with Judeo-German, mostly German text in Hebrew script, that he claimed were transcribed or translated from an old Hebrew document in his possession. Fischer showed portions of his invention to various other Jewish historians in Prague, who then unwittingly incorporated them into their own works. This continued even after Fischer’s death, when his manuscript was obtained by the author David Podiebrad, secretary of the Prague chewra kadisha (burial society), who also added the “Ramschak” name to the chronicle, based on a reference in the work to information obtained from the fictitious chronicler’s deceased father-in-law Rabbi Moses Ramschak.
It took over 100 years for Fischer’s forgery to be publicly denounced in an article by Prof. Salomon Hugo Lieben (1881-1942), founder of the Jewish Museum of Prague, in “Die Ramschak Chronik,” Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Juden in der Cechoslovakischen Republik, vol. I, pp. 369-419 (1929). The extensive history of the forged Ramschak Chronicle was recently reviewed by Dr. Iveta Cermanová in “The Ramschak Chronicle: New Findings About the Genesis, Reception and Impacts of the Forgery,” Judaica Bohemiae 2/2017, pp. 33-67. Both Lieben and Cermanová agree that Fischer’s forgery should be seen in the context of its time, as it followed the publication of Václav Hanka’s famous forged Czech manuscripts, The Manuscripts of Dvùr Králové and Zelená Hora, purporting to be early Czech-language epic poems, predating even the earliest German-language epic, the Nibelungenlied of 1200. Apparently all factions of the Prague community were eager to establish their historical ties to the city at that time, so much so, that when actual historical sources were lacking, some felt the need to invent them.
Although the Ramschak Chronicle was a forgery, ancient chronicles of the Jewish community in Prague do in fact exist. An authentic one found in the collection of the Jewish Theological Seminary, A Hebrew Chronicle from Prague, c. 1615, with entries spanning from 1389 to 1611, was edited and published by Abraham David in 1993. And of course David Gans’ historical work Zemach David, first published in 1592, also contains numerous entries about the history of Jews in Bohemia.
Fischer’s reference to a Rabbi Ramschak in his forgery was most likely an attempt to add significance to his work by relating it to his esteemed contemporary, Rabbi Fleckeles, whose patriotic sermon Fischer translated into German and published in 1821. But who exactly were the Ramschaks? Was there actually a Rabbi Moses Ramschak? And is Rabbi Fleckeles’ genealogy of the Ramschak family correct?
First, some explanations are in order. Rabbi Fleckeles apparently used both names Fleckeles and Ramschak. Already in the 1748 Prague Jewish census, conducted after the return of Jews to Prague following their 1745 expulsion by Empress Maria-Therese of Austria, the rabbi’s father’s family is listed under the name Flekels. See Lucie B. Petrusová and Alexandr Putík, Fase pražských židovských rodin z let [Sworn Declarations of Prague Jewish Families] 1748-1749 (1751), p. 36 (Jewish Museum of Prague 2012) (#115 Wolff Flekels, Lieferant, wife Esterl, unmarried children David, Nathan, Isaac, Schöndl, step-daughters Hendl and Ella). His grandfather Wolf is identified as Wolf Flenkel [sic] in the list of losses from the great fire of 1754. See Wenzel Zacek, “Nach dem Brande des Prager Ghetto im Jahre 1754” (After the Prague Gheoot Fire in 1754), Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Juden in der Cechoslovakischen Republik, vol. 6, p. 191 (1934).
His father David’s marriage permission from March 20, 1752 is under the name Dawid Flekeles. Yet in 1771, when the very young rabbi (age 16!) received permission to marry Ester Bondi, he is identified as Lazar Ramschak. And in the 1782 tax forms indexed by Leon Ruzicka the rabbi’s father is listed as David Wolf Ramschak and the rabbi is Laser Ramschak. In the 1794 Prague Jewish Census, the rabbi appears as Eleazar Flekls Ramschak, while his father is called David Flekels. And on the rabbi’s son Abraham Markus Flekeles’ Familianten record, where the strict quota for permissions to marry were recorded, his father is called Eleasar Ramschak Flekeles.
The rabbi’s grandfather Wolf appears in 1748 as Wolff Flekels, as previously mentioned, but in the Prague 1729 Jewish census he is Wolf Scholem Rahmschack with wife Frommel and sons Dawid and Nathan. When Wolf dies in 1772, his gravestone refers to him as the elderly Wolf son of Shalom Flekeles Ramschak, age 80.
We are very fortunate that the old cemetery in Prague has remained largely intact. In the 1880s, two historians, Simon Hock (1815-1887) and Rabbi Leopold Popper (1826-1885), compiled an index of the cemetery. Hock’s version was posthumously published by David Kaufmann in Die Familien Prags (1892) and has been the main source for historians ever since. However, Popper’s notebooks have become available more recently on the website of the Jewish Museum of Prague, and they often provide graves and details that are missing in the Hock-Kaufmann book. Both the Hock-Kaufmann book and the Popper notebooks are not easy to use without a knowledge of Hebrew, and even then it is difficult. The Hock-Kaufmann book is printed in Rashi script, which differs from today’s standard Hebrew. And the Popper notebooks have details in tiny, faint handwritten Hebrew script. Dates in both sources are in Hebrew, using the Hebrew calendar. (As a result, the years of death I use in this article may be off by a year, because the Hebrew year overlaps two years in the Gregorian calendar that we use.) Fortunately, I have been able to get unparalleled assistance in reading these sources from the indefatigable Nancy High in Boston, who has been researching her husband’s ancestry in Frankfurt and Prague for many decades, and has trainer herself to read these difficult sources.
Wolf’s father Shalom dies in 1704 and on his grave it says “Shalom son of Selig son of David Ramschak.” For many years, the trail of evidence has stopped there. There was no grave found for any Selig Ramschak or Selig Fleckeles, let alone a Selig son of David Ramschak or Fleckeles. It seems that Rabbi Fleckeles believed that Selig’s father David was the son Wolf son of David Fleckeles-Horowitz, the husband of Nissel, daughter of Rabbi YomTov Lipman Heller, who died in 1671-2 in Prague. The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906 even added the death date of 1672 for the Rabbi’s alleged ancestor Wolf (no doubt based on Hock-Kaufmann) in its article on the Fleckeles family that included the paternal line of Rabbi Fleckeles, but there was no evidence for that either, and the date does not fit well if Wolf dies in 1672 and his great-grandson Shalom dies in 1704. (For more information on the Fleckeles-Horowitz family see my article Who Was Wolf Slawes? Correcting a Mistake Concerning the Family of Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, Avotaynu, vol. 36, no. 1 (Spring 2020)) The grave for Shalom’s mother, Sarah, the daughter of Wolf Katz, who died 1710, also did not help determine exactly who her husband Selig was. It described her husband as the deceased Selig Ramschak. The same was true for the graves of Shalom’s siblings Rivke Kolin d. 1704, Freidl Neustädtl d. 1723 and Malka Setzer-Horwitz d. 1735.
There is no evidence in the Hock cemetery book or the Popper notebooks of any Rabbi Moses Ramschak, nor any reference to Ramschaks earlier than a Menachem Man son of Juda Wilstadt (from the Bacharach family) who died 1680 as the son-in-law of David Ramschak. Looking in Alexander Beider’s book Jewish Surnames from Prague (15th – 18th Centuries) published by Avotaynu in 1994, one finds the name Ramschak listed under “Acronymic Surnames” with the explanation “Rabbi Moses (or Meir, or Menachem) Schulklopfer.” The source for Beider was the historian Otto Muneles (1894-1967) in his article “Zur Namengebung der Juden in Böhmen” (On the Giving of Names to Jews in Bohemia), Judaica Bohemiae 2, page 8 (1966). The Schulklopfer (or Schulklopper) was a ceremonial title for an individual who was responsible for calling people to minyan, literally someone who knocked on doors with a mallet. A person known as Reb [Mr.] M. Schulklopper could be the source of the name Ramschak, as the name would be abbreviated R’M’Sh’K on a tombstone. If the name does derive from an acronym of a particular person, one possibility could be a R’ Moses (son of Henoch) Altschul “Schulklöpper,” who is identified in the last will of Mordechai Meisels (1528-1601). See Alexander Kisch, “Das Testament Mardochai Meysels: mitgethheilt und nach handschiftlichen Quellen beleuchtet,” Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, Jahrg. 37 (N. F.1), H. 1 (1893), pp. 25-40, H. 3 (1893), pp. 131-146, at page 132 Another possibility might be Moses (son of Enoch) Schick (d. 1665 Vienna), whose son Beer fled to Prague when the Jews were expelled from Vienna in 1670. Beer’s 1695 grave inscription reads “Beer son of Moshe Sh’K from Vienna.” In David Kaufmann’s Die letzte Vertreibung der Juden aus Wien und Niederösterreich (1889), p. 188, he refers to him as “Bär b. Mose aus der Familie Schak” (Beer son of Moses from the Schak family). Again, Beer’s father R’M’Sh’K looks like a possible source for the name Ramschak. But all of these theories turned out to be incorrect.
The breakthrough came in looking at another Ramschak family in Prague (which happened to be my ancestors, as I explain in the epilogue below). In the 1729 census there is an Abraham Ramschackh with wife Blümele and children Gedalia, David, Löb, Moyses Mayer and Rachel. He died in 1741 as Abraham son of Jeruchem Ramschak. His father Jeruchem died in 1720 as the son of the elderly David Ramschak. Jeruchem’s wife Sarah, the daughter of Simon Freund, died 1721. Jeruchem seemed certain to be a brother of Rabbi Fleckeles’ ancestor Selig, who was also the son of David Ramschak.
Fortunately, the name Jeruchem isn’t very common in Prague. The Municipal Archives in Prague has a collection of books called Liber Judeorum Album (Jewish White Book) in which are recorded important transactions such as loans and mortgages. These books have mostly been scanned and are available from the Municipal Archive website (under Municipal Chronicles, search “liber judeorum” or “zidovska kniha”). The books each have an index in the front where individuals are listed by first name. The letters I and J are combined, so I had to scan through lots of Isaacs, Israels, Jacobs, Josefs, Joachims, etc, looking for a Jeruchim.
I found one on scanned page 24, the fifth page of the index for letters I and J in Židovská kniha bílá 4822 1704-1717. The index had the name “Jeruchem Kappelmacher,” then some words in Czech around the names Blümele and Abraham Jeruchem Kappelmacher. The numbers accompanying the index entries are folio numbers, not page numbers, with each folio representing a few pages. I found the entry on the second page of folio 381, scan 814.
These old books aren’t easy to read, but I could see that the entry referred to Jeruchem’s wife Sarel, and their son Abraham and his wife Blümele, the daughter of Nechamje Sales from Raudnitz. This all fit perfectly with the information I had from the grave index and census. So Jeruchem Ramschak was also known as Jeruchem Kappelmacher. The name Kappelmacher means a hat-maker, so maybe his profession was hat-maker.
At the bottom of he first page of folio 192, scan 422, I found the entry and could make out “Jeruchem Marcus Fleischer Kappelmacher, Prague Jew, and his father and mother, Dawid Marcus Fleischer, and Sarche.”
The name Fleischer was the key to solving the entire mystery. Fleischer or Fleischman is the German word for a butcher, which in Hebrew is the word “Katsev.” For some names, especially occupational names, tombstones in Prague used the Hebrew version of the occupation. A good example is the name Goldschmidt, which always appears in Hebrew as Zoref. Katsev works the same way, so in order to find graves for someone named Fleischer, you have to look under Katsev. Sure enough, there they all were. David son of Mordechai Simon Katsev died 1687, and on his grave inscription it says he was a grandson of David Gans, the author of Zemach David. Mordechai is a Hebrew version of Marcus, so this fit perfectly, and the reference to Gans matched the one in the genealogy of Rabbi Fleckeles. David’s wife Sarche the daughter of Mordechai Altschul died 1684 and her husband was also listed in the Popper notes as David son of Mordechai Simon Katsev.
There were two more clinchers. In the Popper notes we found the elusive Selig with a lengthy entry that said Selig son of David son of Mordechai Simon Katsev and son-in-law of Wolf son of Shalom Katz. Selig died in 1663 and his name is preceded by “rach b’shanim” which means that he might have suffered an unnatural death at a young age. His father David was still alive. Selig and Jeruchem’s sister, Nechama, the wife of Menachem Man of Wilstadt was also there under the name Katsev in Hock’s book. She died in 1687.
When you look at the name of David’s father Mordechai Simon Katsev you can see the origin of the Ramschak name. It is an acronym for R[eb] M[ordechai] S[imon] K[atsev], or R’M’Sh’K, the first Ramschak. Mordechai died in 1668, the son of the elderly Simel Katsev (Simel is just a nickname for Simon). Mordechai’s father may be Simel the son of Meir Katsev who died 1665. Mordechai’s wife Nechama the daughter of Jacob Kosteletz died already in 1635 and on her tombstone it also says grandson of David Gans, although it is unclear to me who is the grandson, her husband Mordechai or her father Jacob.
We’ve solved the question of where the Ramschak name came from, but further questions remain. How did Rabbi Eleaser’s line pick up the name Flekeles? And what exactly is the relationship to David Gans? On these we can only speculate. It seems likely that there is a tie to the old Flekeles-Horowitz family in Vienna and Prague. The names Shalom, Wolf and David appear there as well, which makes it possible that the Flekeles name came from Selig’s wife, the rabbi’s gg-grandmother Sarah Katz, who was the daughter of Wolf son of Shalom Katz. In the amazing collection of undelivered letters written in 1619 from the Jewish community of Prague to the community in Vienna that was discovered and published in 1911 by Alfred Landau and the incomparable Bernhard Wachstein as Jüdische Privatbriefe aus dem Jahre 1619, there are two letters sent by Blümel (written by her son Mordechai) to her brother Aron Schalom Schechhna Fleckels-Horowitz (d. 1623 Vienna). The Fleckeles-Horowitz family were Levites, but the paternal ancestors of Rabbi Fleckeles are not Levites, so the connection could be through a sister, perhaps Blümel and her son Mordechai in Prague.
Eysakh Jonteff obtained permission to marry Gelle Tritsch on October 7, 1773. In the 1792 Prague census, Isack Löw Hutter, Hutfärber (hat colorer), is in house 166. In the 1794 Prague census, he appears as Isak Jonteff, Altehuthändler (old hat dealer) with wife “Ewa” and children Joachim, Jakob and Sara (but not Lemel Hirsch). Ewa the wife of Isak Huter dies August 22, 1798, age 40 [?], in house 123 (in the index she is called Sara). There is no earlier death record for Gella or any wife of Isak Jontof-Hutter, who remarried in 1799. Gella is a Jewish name and it was mandatory for Jews to adopt German names after the Tolerance Edict of Joseph II in 1782. So it appears that Gella adopted the name Ewa (or Sara). Unfortunately it is quite common for names, especially women’s names, to be inconsistent in the records of this time period. And the ages listed in the death records are also notoriously unreliable.
Identifying Gella’s father David Tritsch, who is named only on her son Joachim’s Familianten record, was not easy. There is a David son of Enoch Tritsch who died February 12, 1788, age 54, house 223. In the 1792 census his widow is called Ester Dawid Trietscht, house 223. When she dies on May 24, 1797, in the death records she is called Rebeka the widow of Dawid Tritsch, house 223, age 49. But in the two cemetery indices for the Wolschan Cemetery in Prague, she is called Chayle, daughter of Hersch Scheberles and wife of David Tritsch. (Here is yet another example of the inconsistency of women’s names.) In the index of marriage permissions we find David Goldschmidt getting permission to marry Cheyle Scheberles on November 4, 1765. The Goldschmidt name is explained by the 1748 census, in which we find David orphan son of Enoch Tritsch living in the home of the widow Gella Goldschmid (Petrusova, supra, #1090). Forget about that older Gella Goldschmid now as we focus again on the younger Gella Tritsch who married Isak Jontof-Hutter.
If Gella Tritsch married around 1773, she cannot be the child of David and Chayle who marry in 1765. She must be a child of a different David Tritsch (or from an earlier marriage of David son of Enoch Tritsch). In the 1792 census we find evidence of our likely suspect, a Marcus [son of] Dawid Tritsch (or Ramesach [sic]), Handlerjude (trader) in house 214. As Mayer Dawid Ramrack he married Resel Prosek in 1784, age 26, so he is born around 1758. One of the witnesses to his marriage is Eysak Löw Hüttmacher, who should be his brother-in-law, Gella’s husband. In the 1794 census Marcus appears underneath the name of his father Dawid Ramrak, widower. In fact, his father David Tritsch Ramrak died May 8, 1793, age 75, in house 213. In Czech, the letter r with a hacek sounds like sh, so Ramrak is the same name as Ramschak or Ramesach.
The only David Tritsch in the 1748 census is the David son of Enoch Tritsch discussed earlier. But there is also only one David Ramschak living with his wife Patsche and no children. (Remember that Rabbi Fleckeles’ father David is listed under Flekels in the 1748 census.) Patchele Ramschak dies in 1772 so her husband was a widower after then. This couple must be the parents of Marcus and Gelle. The logic is again as follows: there are only two David Tritsch (David son of Enoch Tritsch and David Tritsch Ramschak). Gella cannot be the daughter of David Enoch Tritsch, for whom there is no earlier marriage permission, so she must be the daughter of David Tritsch Ramschak. Of course, this is not fool-proof. I have not found a marriage permission for David Tritsch Ramschak either, but he is already married in 1748. The name Tritsch (or Triesch) comes from the town of Trešt’ in Bohemia. There is also a young David son of Feit Beer Tritsch from Trešt’, age 25, who marries Ester Wahle in Prague on March 29, 1789. It is possible that Gella’s father David simply came from Trešt’. But the more likely scenario, as confusing as it may be, is that she is the daughter of David Tritsch Ramschak who died 1793 at age 75.
David Ramschak is listed as the son of Abraham son of Jeruchem Ramschak in the 1729 Prague census. If his age at death is correct, he would be born around 1718, and so he could be the unnamed son born that year to Abraham Ramschak, as recorded in the Prague mohel book held by the Jewish Theological Seminary (as told to me by Dr. Alexandr Putik). Unfortunately, this particular mohel book only lists the name of the father and not the child. In any case, David’s grandfather Jeruchem, discussed above, also known as Jeruchem Marcus Fleischer Kappelmacher son of David Marcus Fleischer and Sarche, was the key to discovering the source of the Ramschak name. He would be my 7g-grandfather.