Mordechai Meysels

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Mordechai Meysels (Meisel)

Also Known As: "Mordecai", "Marcus", "Meisels"
Birthdate:
Death: March 13, 1601 (68-77)
Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic)
Place of Burial: Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Hlavní město Praha, Czech Republic
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Meisel and Dobra Breznicky
Husband of Frummet Meysels and Ewa Meysels
Father of ? Linz
Brother of Abraham Kalamar; Elias Meysels; Simon Meysels; Stastny Kalamar and Dubra Kalamar
Half brother of Salomon Meysels; Mayer Meysels; Beroch Meysels; Moyses Meysels; Simon Meysels and 1 other

Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
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Immediate Family

About Mordechai Meysels

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordecai_Meisel

Mordecai Marcus Meisel (Mordechaj Marek or Miška Marek Meisel (Majzel) in Czech) (1528, Prague–March 13, 1601, Prague) was a philanthropist and communal leader in Prague; his father was Samuel Meisel.

Grave of Mordechai Meisel in Prague (1601). The persecution of the Jews of Prague by the fanatical Ferdinand I occurred while Mordecai was a youth. In 1542 and 1561 his family, with the other Jewish inhabitants, was forced to leave the city, though only for a time. The source of the great wealth which subsequently enabled him to become the benefactor of his coreligionists and to aid the Austrian imperial house, especially during the Turkish wars, is unknown. He is mentioned in documents for the first time in 1569, as having business relations with the communal director Isaac Rofe (Lékarz), subsequently his father-in-law. His first wife, Eva, who died before 1580, built with him the Jewish Town Hall in Prague, which is still standing, as well as the neighboring High Synagogue, where the Jewish court sat. With his second wife, Frummet, he built (1590–92) the Maisel Synagogue, which was much admired by the Jews of the time, being, next to the Altneusynagoge, the metropolitan synagogue of the city; it still bears his name. The costly golden and silver vessels with which he and his wife furnished this building either were lost during the lawsuit over his estate or were burned during the conflagrations in the ghetto in 1689 (June 21) and 1754 (May 16). The only gifts dedicated by Meisel and his wife to this synagogue that have been preserved are a curtain (paroket) embroidered with hundreds of pearls, a similarly adorned wrapper for the scroll of the Law, and a magnificent bronze ornament for the almemar. Jacob Segre, rabbi of Casale Monferrato, celebrated the dedication of the synagogue in a poem which is still extant, and his contemporary David Gans, the chronicler of Prague, has described in his Tzemach Dawid the enthusiasm with which the Jewish population received the gift.

Meisel went on to build quarters and provide housing for Jews who migrated from what is now modern-day Belarus.

Mordecai Marcus Meisel (Miška Marek in Bohemian documents): Philanthropist and communal leader at Prague; son of Samuel Meisel; born at Prague 1528; died there March 13, 1601. The persecution of the Jews of Prague by the fanatical Ferdinand I. occurred while Mordecai was a youth. In 1542 and 1561 his family, with the other Jewish inhabitants, was forced to leave the city, though only for a time. The source of the great wealth which subsequently enabled him to become the benefactor of his coreligionists and to aid the Austrian imperial house, especially during the Turkish wars, is unknown. He is mentioned in documents for the first time in 1569, as having business relations with the communal director Isaac Rofe (Lékarz), subsequently his father-in-law. His first wife, Eva, who died before 1580, built with him the Jewish town-hall at Prague, which is still standing, as well as the neighboring Hohe Synagoge, where the Jewish court sat. With his second wife, Frummet, he built (1590-92) the Meisel synagogue, which was much admired by the Jews of the time, being, next to the Altneusynagoge, the metropolitan synagogue of the city; it still bears his name. The costly golden and silver vessels with which he and his wife furnished this building either were lost during the lawsuit over his estate or were burned during the conflagrations in the ghetto in 1689 (June 21) and 1754 (May 16). The only gifts dedicated by Meisel and his wife to this synagogue that have been preserved are a curtain ("paroket") embroidered with hundreds of pearls, a similarly adorned wrapper for the scroll of the Law, and a magnificent bronze ornament for the almemar. Jacob Segre, rabbi of Casale-Monferrato, celebrated the dedication of the synagogue in a poem which is still extant, and his contemporary David Gans, the chronicler of Prague, has described in his "Ẓemaḥ Dawid" the enthusiasm with which the Jewish population received the gift.

Tombstone of Mordecai Meisel at Prague.(From Jerabék, "Der Alte Prager Judenfriedhof.") His Benefactions. Meisel enlarged the old Jewish cemetery of Prague by purchasing adjoining uncultivated land, on which he erected a house for washing the dead, a miḳweh, a bet ha-midrash, a Klaus, and a hospital (still in existence). He spent much money also in ransoming Jewish prisoners; paved the ghetto ofPrague, which had been much enlarged at that time; often provided clothing, of a uniform pattern, for all the poor of his community; presented large dowries every year at Ḥanukkah to two poor brides chosen by lot; lent large sums without interest to needy merchants; and provided for the widows and orphans of the community. He presented costly synagogal vessels and adornments to other communities, including those of Cracow, Posen, and Jerusalem. He presented and loaned altogether the sum of 20,000 thalers to the community of Posen when it was burned out June 11, 1590; gave generously to Christian philanthropies, contributing a considerable amount toward the completion of the Church of the Savior; and repeatedly lent large sums to the empress as well as to the emperor, being rewarded with considerable privileges, many of which affected the Meisel synagogue. This synagogue had a standard with an escutcheon; it might not be entered by any officer of the law; it was exempt from taxation for all time. Although Meisel had no children, the emperor granted him the right to dispose of his estate; but after his death the heirs were involved in difficulties as a result of this privilege. He had the right also to mint shekels for ritual purposes ("pidyon ha-ben" and "maḥaẓit ha-sheḳel"), and one of these coins, dated 1584, is still in existence.

Meisel's last will and testament, which he drew up in the presence of Chief Rabbi Löw (Judah Löw b. Bezaleel), the communal director Joachim Brandeis, and Meïr Epstein, leaving his estate to his two nephews, Samuel the Elder and Samuel the Younger, is still extant in manuscript. He was interred with the highest honors. Immediately after his burial the Bohemian treasury, at the instance of the emperor, confiscated his estate, consisting of 516,250 gulden in money together with many houses. Whatever was found was carried off; one of the chief heirs was tortured into revealing the hiding-place of what had been concealed, which also was claimed. Meisel's wealth and philanthropy have become proverbial among the Jews, and many anecdotes are connected with his name.

Bibliography: Lieben, Gal 'Ed; Foges, Altertümer der Prager Josefstadt; Hock-Kaufmann, Die Familien Prags, Presburg, 1892; A. Kisch, Das Testament Mardochai Meysels; idem, Das Meiselbanner in Prag, Prague, 1901.

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Mordechai Meysels's Timeline

1528
1528
1601
March 13, 1601
Age 73
Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Prague, Czechia
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Prague, Hlavní město Praha, Hlavní město Praha, Czech Republic