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Meisel (also Maisel, Meisels, Meiseles, Meisl, Meysl, Maizles, Majzel, Mejzels, Maysles,Mayseless, Mayzlesh, Mysels, Myslis, Myslich, Meusel, Meussl) Bohemian family famous chiefly through Mordechai Meisel (1528-1601), "primate of Prague". His family originally came from Krakow, and he was married to the daughter of the famous elder, Isaac Rofe. Mordechai was mayor of Prague in 1592 when he funded reconstruction of the ghetto and to the building of the Maisel Synagogue. As early as 1477, the name of Meisel is mentioned in documents relating to Prague. The patriarch of this family was Itzhak Lifshitz Meisels who died in 1510 in Prague.

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There are legends about how Mordechai Maisel made so much money that he could even lend money to Emperor Rudolph II. One legend is that he had a small shop in Prague Jewish Quarter and one day an unknown man arrived and left a large chest there. He said he would come back later, but he was never seen again. When Maisel opened the chest after years, he found loads of money there. Mordechai Maisel is buried at the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague Josefov .

The Meisel family comes from a long line of community leaders, sages and Rabbis. Itzhak's great great grandson was Simcha Bonem Meisels (d 1624 Krakow) who married Dreizel Isserles, the daughter of Moses ben Israel Isserles, the REMA, and was a decendant of RASHI and King David of Israel. In the second half of the 17th century there were many eminent rabbis, amongst them Simcha Bonem's grandson, Rabbi Moshe Meisels (b 1650), son-in-law of the MaHarSha. He was Av Beit Din of the Holy Community of Lublin and author of "Mahadura Batra" (The Last Edition).

This tradition continued in the 18th century with more important leaders. Also descended from the Simcha Bonem line was Rabbi Dov Berush Meisel (1798-1870) who was the Chief Rabbi of Krakow for a quarter of a century, and also the Rabbi of Warsaw. Rabbi Moshe Meisel (1759-1844) was the head of the Jewish community of Vilna for 22 years, originally a follower of the Vilna Gaon, he went on to become a leader of the Habad movement with Shneur Zalman. Considered a scholar and fluent in several languages, he worked as a translator for Napoleon's high command and became a spy for the Czar of Russia.

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Uziel Meiseles, a descendant of R. Moshe Isserles and of R. Meir of Lublin, gave the eulogy for the Zlotchover maggid. The First Tzaddik of Hasidism: The Zlotchover Maggid and His Circle. See: Uziel Meiseles, Tiferet Uziel Ha-Nikra Be-Shem Ez Ha-Da’at Tov, Warsaw 1863, pp. 36a-38a.

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Rabbi Moshe Meisels/Meislish (1759 Vilna -1844 Hebron)

Moshe is my 5th great grandfather. I have been researching his family for decades and am finding new information practically every day. We have not been able to find a link between our branch and the Prague branch. Moshe's father was Mordecai and his father was either Moshe or Eliezer (there is conflicting information on this). Moshe had a brother-in-law, Rabbi Ziskind of Vidz. Moshe's wife was Pesia, daughter of Rabbi Arye Preger, son of Rabbi Avraham Shimon Preger. They had three sons: Eliezer, Arye Leib, and Tzvi Hirsch. His descendants now live all over the world in Israel, the UK, Europe, Australia, South Africa and the USA.

Some say his death year should 1849, but according to Sefer Ha-Sihot [1920-1927] of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, Brooklyn NY 2004 (2nd edition), p. 111 note 7, it is 1844. He was buried in Hebron. Avraham Mayzlesh visited his grave around 1940. His uncle, Meir Mayzlesh, took him to the old Jewish cemetery in Hebron, showed him a gravestone - which wasn't clear - and told him: 'this is the grave of the 'Zeide Reb Moshe. We believe that the cemetery has since been destroyed.

The Meisels family was one of the respected families of Vilna, several of the family were at different times among the heads of the community. The outstanding one was Rabbi Moshe Meisels who was one of the heads of the community for 22 years, and even after having left Vilna he was outstanding in his activity, talents that made his status at any place he came to.

In his youth, Moshe was a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, a strong opponent to Chassidism. During this time he became deeply interested in the writing of Moses Mendelsshon. He was also in secret contact with Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the creator of the Chabad movement. When this became known in Vilna, Moshe feared persecution from the Vilna religious establishment and fled to Germany. During this time he had talks with the Napoleonic forces and when Shneur Zalman wanted these talks to stop, it became suspected that Moshe was secretly collaborating with the Russian Army. Again he was forced to flee. He went to Eretz Israel until the French defeat in the war. Then he returned to Lithuania where he stayed until he made his aliyah to Hebron in 1818 to spend his final years there. In Hebron, he was closely associated with Sir Moses Montefiore. (From Encyclopedia Judaica)

Moshe Meisels was the Vilna community sexton (shamash) and author of a published book - Shirat Moshe, published in Shklov in 1788. He is written up in Kiria Neemana by Fuenn, pages 245-46. In a newly published book IR VILNA by Mordecai Zelkin (HU, Jrslm, 2002) there is mention on page 34 about him and how his knowledge of languages became a time bomb that worked against him.

Rabbi Moshe Meisels, an extremely learned man, was fluent in German, Russian, Polish and French. During Napoleon's war on Russia he served as a translator for the French High Command. Rabbi Schneur Zalman had charged him to associate with the French military officials, to attain a position in their service, and to convey all that he learned to the commanders of the Russian army.* Within a short while Rabbi Moshe had succeeded in gaining the favor of the chief commanders of Napoleon's army and was privy to their most secret plans. The rest of the story of Moshe as a spy can be seen here.

R Moshe Mayzlish, author of 'lyrics of Moshe' on the 613 'mitzvas', was among the first settlers and appointees in 'kolel Habbad' in Hebron. In the census of 1839 recorded that he is at age of 80 and came from Vilna to the holy land in year of 1818, with his son Tzvi 43 years old married with son and daughter depend on him for livelihood, and Tzvi's grandson R Mordechai married age 20 with son and daughter. He is on the census as Mordechai Br"Tz (son of Tzvi). For many years he was the trustee of the community in Vilna. Between the years 1796-8 got close to Habbad and was persecuted for that in Vilna , until he had to run away and to become a nomad - trying to find bread to eat 1801-3. During Napoleon's war was spying for the emperor of Russia and met for that 2 times with Napoleon himself. After demise of his holiness the Old Admor he was dedicated to the Middle Admor, who wrote to him a lot and named him 'my beloved friend dear to me as my soul trusted and wise man', 'soul mate, strength and trust of my heart' Between years 1814-1815 asked the Middle Admor about a trip to settle in the holy land and he gave him his advise no to go. '..... it is unimaginable that I shall give from the charity box expenses of the trip until they'll come there and get/fix a place/residence in Jerusalem, they will have a position of 50 (???) for both of them, (he and the genius Rabbi R Barich Mordechai chairman of rabbinical court in Broisk) and in any case no more'. Between years 1816-1817 the Middle Admor ordered some of his Hasidim to emigrate to the holy land and then did so R Moshe Mayzlish and settled in Safed and in the winter of 1823 moved to Hebron and became one of the appointees of the community and signed on most of the community records/scripts between years 1827-1841. He signed on the letters of emissary of the year 1827, on agreement between two congregations/communities in 1830, on the letter to the holy Admor 'Tzemach Tzedek' in 1831, and on letters of emissary from about 1844. In Yaari's records from ' archives of Jerusalem' that he passed away in Hebron on 24 Av 'tav'-'resh'-'tet' (Sunday, Aug. 12 1849) and in the book of Hebron page 150 'when he was about 90 years old, Friday eve of holy sabbath chapter/portion 're'eh' 'tav'-'resh'-alef' (1841)' but in 1841 he was only 82 years old so it probably should be 1849 (the mentioning of chapter/portion 're'eh' does not fit/comply with neither 24 Av 'tav'-'resh'-'alef' nor with 'tav'-resh'-tet'. His son Tzvi Hirsh mentioned above signed on the script/letter to (???) from 1844. (Abbridged translation of Hebrew text written by SD Levine)

"More information is listed on his geni.com profile."

Lainey Melnick - [mailto:lainey.melnick@gmail.com]

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Miscellaneous Research

Jacob and Abraham Maisel History --(NEAL BUCHMAN - nbuchman@olis.com)

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MAISEL FAMILY NAME

http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/kurenets/k_pages/kur_gb_archive1.html

From: DSMaisel@aol.com
 - To: belarus@lyris.jewishgen.org (Belarus SIG)





I have been researching my family name for more than 15 years 
both through correspondence and through the literature. Maisel, 
along with it various spellings (vz Maizel, Maysel, Maisels, etc) 
can be traced to both Jewish and non-Jewish families back to the 
13th century.

On the Jewish side, it is common knowledge that the Maisel family 
was prominent in Prague back to the 15th century and there remains 
the Maisel synagogue there. I also have information provided by 
Chaim Friedman on Jews by the name of Maisel from Israeli records 
back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

I have written record of a Maisel, non Jewish family 
living in Southern Germany in the 13th century. 
They are quite likely related to the Maisel Beer which has been 
produced for more than 200 years on Germany. 


In Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the German Reich" there is a section 
dealing with the offer to General Rommel to commit suicide rather 
than face court martial for the attempted assassination of Hitler. 
One of the two SS Generals who delivered the ultimatum to Rommel 
was Eric Maisel who was quite likely to not have had Jewish ancestry.


I am also in touch with three families named Maisel who are now, and 
have been ever since they have family records, of German Lutheran 
derivation.



In almost every compilation of the Belarus records, I find mention 
of the name Maisel. Beider says that the name is a dimunitive form of 
Moishe but I have some doubts about the validity of this.

 My theory is that the name arose in southern Germany about the time 
that Jews were obligated to pick surnames and that originally there 
were some Jews associated with the non Jewish family there who took 
this name. Obviously this is just a theory which I have not yet been 
able to prove but it is also my theory that Jews, by this name took 
place in the migration of Jews from Germany to Poland and later became 
Russian by the annexation of Polish territory.



In the US many people of prominence have had the last name of Maisel 
such as

  • A. Maisel (medical author),
  • Arthur Maisel (restauranteer), 

  • Sherman Maisel (Federal Reserve Board),
  • Jay Maisel (photographer),
  • I 
Maisels (eminent lawyer in South Africa, etc.

I have information on 
many of the families I have corresponded with but unfortunately have 
not yet been able to make useful connections. My hope is that archival 
data which might still be availabe from Russian and perhaps Polish 
sources will one day allow me to accomplish this.

 

Daniel Maisel (DSMaisel@aol.com)


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Relatives of Alter (Zelick) Maisel and Hannah Amhowitz Maisel (from Salushje, Russa - now part of Belarus) who came to New York between 1907 and 1912. (mnathanson@ameritech.net)

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The Mysels Brothers - Songwriters -- "I Love You, I Need You, I Want You" lyrics sung by Elvis Presley."