KATZENELLENBOGEN, family widely dispersed throughout Eastern and Central Europe. It originated in the town of Katzenelnbogen in Hesse, the birthplace of Meir ben Isaac *Katzenellenbogen (1473–1565), head of the Padua yeshivah. His son, SAMUEL JUDAH (1521–1597), inherited his father's position; Samuel Judah's son was Saul *Wahl (c. 1541–1617), the Polish Court Jew and legendary "king for a day." Saul had six sons and five daughters, who married into the leading families of East European Jewry. Such was the fame of the family that men who married women members took their wives' family name, as did R. Joel Ashkenazi who married R. Samuel's daughter. There are at least 12 variant Hebrew spellings of the name as well as derivative forms such as Ellenbogen, Elbogen, Bogen, and Katzenelson. One of Saul's sons, MEYER, an influential member of the *Councils of the Lands, was recorded as Kaẓin Elin Bogen (Heb. kaẓin, "officer," "leader"). The family was widely dispersed, but its unity was maintained through meticulously kept family records. Members of the family intermarried with other prominent Jewish families (Te'omim, Heilprin, *Fraenkel, etc.) and produced many rabbis. Especially notable were David Tevel *Katzenellenbogen, rabbi of St. Petersburg, and Ẓevi Hirsch Katzenellenbogen, Vilna communal leader. Ezekiel ben Abraham Katzenellenbogen was rabbi of Hamburg, Altona, and Wandsbeck (1714–49); his grandson, ABRAHAM BEN DAVID, rabbi in Slutsk and Brest-Litovsk, was an opponent of Ḥasidism who conducted polemics with *Levi Isaac of Berdichev. Gabriel *Riesser, leader of German Jewry's struggle for emancipation, was a descendant of the family through his father, ELIEZER (LAZARUS RIESSER). NAPHTALI HIRSCH BEN MOSES KATZENELLENBOGEN (c. 1715–1800), Landrabbiner of the Palatinate (1763), was the first to head the famous Mannheim Klaus (1768). His namesake, NAPHTALI HIRSCH BEN ELIEZER KATZENELLENBOGEN (d. 1823), rabbi of Bamberg and Haguenau, participated in Napoleon's *Sanhedrin.
M. Ellenbogen, Ḥevel ha-Kesef: Record of the Kacenelenbogen Family… (Heb. and Eng., 1937); M. Wollsteiner, Genealogische Uebersicht ueber einige Zweige der Nachkommenschaft des Rabbi Meir Katzenelenbogen von Padua (1898); J.B. Samuel, Records of the Samuel Family Including the Katzenelenbogen… (1912); Graetz, Hist, 5 (1949), 238–41 (on Ezekiel); N. Rosenstein, These are the Generations (1967).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.