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Carlebach is derived from two German words, “Karle’s Bach”, meaning: Karl's Brook.

The Carlebach (and Karlebach) surname indicates origin from the town of either Grosskarlbach and Kleinkarlbach (Big and Little Karlbach).

They were situated close to one another in the southwestern part of Germany, on the left bank of the Rhine, in an area then known as the Kurpfalz (Palatinate) (today, the German Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate). These towns are, respectively, about 36 and 40 miles NW of Heidelberg and 15 miles NW of Mannheim.

The name may also indicate origin from the town of Karlbach, located in the southern part of Germany in an area known as the Duchy of Bavaria (today, the German Federal State of Bayern). It is located 280 miles east of Heidelberg.

Thus, the city of origin for those bearing the Carlebach name cannot be pinpointed with certainty. Moreover, even if that city could be conclusively shown, that still would not prove relationship between all who carry this surname, especially since the Carlebach name in the 17th Century was carried by both Jews and Christians. Records from the 16th and 17th Century of individuals from these three towns do not appear to exist.

At best, it is possible to speak of the histories of Carlebachs associated with various cities in the south of Germany, beginning in the 17th Century. Understanding that these are not all-inclusive but rather represent the largest known families, they may be identified as:

  1. Carlebachs of Heidelberg;
  2. Carlebachs of Mannheim;
  3. Carlebachs of Mainz/Worms/Metz;
  4. Karlebachs of Obergrombach.

Though members from each of these families would, in time, be found in each of the above locations as well as in dozens of others, the city and area names serve to indicate earliest origins that have been found.

1. Kurpfalz (The Electoral Palatinate) was a historical territory of the Holy Roman Empire. It was called Kurpfalz since a number of territories within it, were formerly held by the Count palatines (Pfalzgrafen) of Lotharingia. (A palatinate was a territory administered by a Count Palatine, a high official of the court, originally representing the king, but over time becoming the hereditary ruler of the territory subject to the crown's overlordship.) In 1720, its capital was Mannheim.
2. Klein Karlbach: There apparently is a reference in Von der Juden in der Pfalz (Herman Arnold, Speyer, 1967) to Jews having settled in Klein Karlbach by 1552.


The history of the Heidelberg Carlebachs is intimately connected with the history of Germany Jewry in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Simply put: the economic, social and religious choices that family members made, were, not surprisingly, influenced by the world and time in which they lived.

In the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, family members took advantage of new German laws allowing Jews greater freedom in moving to cities, obtaining residency rights, and participating in economic activities previously closed to them. Many took advantage of the new laws permitting them to attend German universities which resulted in great exposure to secular knowledge. Some forged a great synthesis between secular knowledge and Jewish learning, living as Modern Orthodox. Others, more radically, rejected some elements of traditional Jewish life and participated in Reform Judaism. Still others, embraced, completely, the secular world.

In the 20th century, family members participated fully in Germany society. Some fought in WWI as loyal German citizens; others enjoyed economic success as bankers, lawyers, merchants, and state-supported rabbis. With the rise of National Socialism, some family members left Germany for the U.S., England, Australia, and Israel. Others, tragically, perished during the Holocaust.

In the second half of the 20th century, given the perceived failure of accommodation with German secular knowledge and society, many family members chose a more rigorous Jewish traditional life, electing to live in religious enclaves in Israel and the U.S.. A few participated in European socialist movements, while others sought to balance both the secular and Jewish worlds.


According to family stories, the Carlebachs came from an illustrious Jewish heritage that dated back from antiquity. It is told that Rabbi Naphtali Carlebach, a leading Rabbi of Berlin and later Baden, Austria once ran a trace of the family and he found they were descended from King David through eighteen different branches.

The earliest documented member of the Carlebach family of Heidelberg, however, is not found in antiquity but at the beginning of the 18th century. That was Yechiel Carlebach(c.1700-c.1767), who married around 1734. He lived in the city of Heidelberg (today, found in the German Federal State of Baden-Wurttemberg). He was one of two (Estate) Taxators of the city. Yechiel had several children: Joseph Hirsch Carlebach(c.1735-1791) ; Feiss Carlebach(1738-1813) and Judas Carlebach(1739-1817).

====== 1. Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities: Germany vol. 2, “Heidelberg”, stated that the Carlebach family was one of several rich and respected Jewish newcomers to Heidelberg in the first half of the 18th Century.
2. Yechiel: The old Heidelberg cemetery contains the gravestone of Juspa the son of Yechiel, who died 3/30/1791. (Szklanowski, Benno, Der alte jüdische Friedhof am Klingenteich in Heidelberg, 1702 bis 1876 : eine Dokumentation,Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg,Verlag Brausdruck, Heidelberg, 1984, p. 22). The Heidelberger Memorbuch lists Juspa Carlebach(d.1791) who was the son of Jechiel. (Heidelberger Memorbuch, 1715-?,transcribed by Berthold Rosenthal, Series II, Box 2, 7, Berthold Rosenthal Collection, Leo Baeck Institute, NY).
3. The Taxator was responsible for the taxation of estates for auctions, in most cases after the owner of the estate died or went bankrupt. 1801 Taxator application for Herz Joseph Carlebach (7/26/1801, Heidelberg Taxator records 1789-1803, 204/372, State Archive Karlsruhe) stated that his grandfather had been a Taxator. Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities: Germany vol. 2, “Heidelberg”, stated that some of the families who came to Heidelberg in the first half of the 18th century were appointed tax-collectors for the “Sons of the State” Jewish organization.
4. Joseph Hirsch: 1852 Death Register (4/16/1852, Heidelsheim Judische Personenstansregister/Jewish Vital Records, p. 55, “Gala Marx, nee Carlebach”, Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe) states that her father was Joseph Karlebach. The 1835 Death Register for his son, Emanuel, (5/6/1835, Heidelsheim Judische Personenstansregister/Jewish Vital Records, Death Register 2/1835,”Imaneul Karlebach”, Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe) stated that his father was Joseph Carlebach. His birth date is by inference, based on the 1766 birth date of his son, Solomon.
He died 3/30/1791. (Szklanowski, Op. Cit., p. 22). His wife Susanne’s 1796 lawsuit, states that she was a widow (8/6/1797 statement of Heidelberg University lawyer, 1795-1797 Lawsuit of Susanna Carlebach against Hermann Steidel, p. 26, GLA Karlsruhe, 204/1248); 9/20/1797 List of Heidelberger Jewry (Cser, Andreas, “Zwischen Stadtverfassung und absolutistischem Herrschaftsanpurch:1650 bis zum Ende der Kurpfalz 1802” in Geschichte der Juden in Heidelberg, Verlag Brigitte Guderjahn, Heidelberg, 1996, pg. 134, footnote 284: GLA Karlsruhe, 77/7265) lists “The Widow of Joseph Carlebach”; Heidelberg Memorbuch (Op. Cit.) lists Juspa Carlebach who died in 1791.
5. Feiss: 10/18/1801 Table of Heidelberger Jewry (Cser, Op. Cit., pp.148,150, footnote 308: GLA Karlsruhe, 77/3022) lists Feist Carlebach, age 64 (b.1736/37); In 1809 his age was given as 70 (b.1738/39). (1809 Heidelberg Namensannahmelisten der Juden);Gravestone in old Heidelberg cemetery reads: Feiss the son of Yechiel Carlebach, died 7/27/1813. (Szklanowski, Op. Cit. p. 45); Heidelberg Jewish Community Matrikel, 1813, lists his death that year. “Judische Familie Carlebach” (Op. Cit.) has Feiss as the brother of Joseph Hirsch.
6. Judas: 1801 Taxator application for Herz Joseph Carlebach (Op. Cit.) stated that his uncle was Judas Carlebach. Heidelberg Memorbuch (Op. Cit.) apparently lists a Judas Carlenbach, unmarried, born in 1739, and working as a Taxator. Gravestone in old Heidelberg cemetery states: Jehuda son of Jechiel Carlebach, died 7/18/1817. It also stated that he died at an old age. (Szklanowski, Op. Cit. p. 42).



Yechiel Carlebach’s son, Joseph Hirsch Carlebach, married Susschen Stiefel? Beren? (1736-1810) of Frankfurt around 1765. They lived in Heidelberg and had five children. One of them, Emanuel Carlebach (1775-1835), married Bella Babetta Marx (c.1776-1839) of Heidelsheim around 1801. They lived in Heidelsheim and had six children, among them, Joseph Hirsch Carlebach (1802-1881). In 1834, Joseph married Cillie Stern (1811-1883) of Michelbach. They lived in Heidelsheim and had nine children, among them Solomon Carlebach (1845-1919), who served as rabbi of the Jewish community in Lubeck.

It should be noted that there is only one member of the Carlebach family found in 18th century records as a rabbi, and no others listed as rabbis until Solomon’s ordination in 1869. Solomon, however, would soon make up for this lack. He married Esther Adler (1853-1920) of Moisling in 1872. They lived in Lubeck, where they had twelve children. Five of their sons became rabbis and two of their daughters married rabbis. Many of Solomon’s children, grandchildren, and great-grand children would become rabbis or marry rabbis, as well.


1. Joseph Hirsch (b.c.1735): See Cser, Andreas, “Zwischen Stadtverfassung und absolutistischem Herrschaftsanpurch:1650 bis zum Ende der Kurpfalz 1802” in Geschichte der Juden in Heidelberg, Verlag Brigitte Guderjahn, Heidelberg, 1996, pp. 109, 116,117, 121,122; “Extractus Reformirten Geistlichen Administrations Protocolli/Extract from Church record”, 9/10/1777, p.74 and 3/11/1778, p.75 in 1795-1797 Lawsuit of Susanna Carlebach, Op. Cit.); 2/9/1797 City Council Commission decision (in 1795-1797 Lawsuit of Susanna Carlebach, Op. Cit., pp. 67-70) stated that the late Joseph Carlenbach was a “Schutz und Handelsjud”, that is, a Jew who was allowed to live and trade in the city. 1801 Taxator application for his son, Herz Joseph Carlebach (Op. Cit.) stated that Joseph was a “Schutz und Handelsjude.” Alexander Carlebach (Men and Ideas, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, 1982, p. 382) stated that he was the Landjudenschaft-Geldemfanger of Heidelberg. His gravestone states (Szklanowski, Op. Cit., p. 22) that he was the Schatzmeister (treasurer) der Landjudenschaft.
2. Susschen Stiefel? Beren?: 10/18/1801 Table of Heidelberger Jewry (Cser, Op. Cit., pp.148,150, footnote 308: GLA Karlsruhe, 77/3022) states that the widow Carlebach was 65 (b.1735/36);1810 Death Record for Sisja Carlebach (Heidelberg Judische Personenstandsregister, 6/20/1810) stated that she was 74 (b.1735/36), maiden name, Beren, from Frankfurt, and was a midwife. The 1835 Heidelsheim Death Register for her son, Emanuel, (5/6/1835, Heidelsheim Judische Personenstansregister,”Imaneul Karlebach”, GLA Karlsruhe)stated that his mother was Susanna Stiefel; Herz Carlebach’s 1851 Death Record (Heidelberg Judische Personenstandsregister, Births, No.3, pg. 122, 9/8/1851, “Herz Carlebach”) stated that his mother’s name was Sisja Beren; The Behrens (Berens, Behrends) family was quite prominent in Frankfurt and was intertwined with the Cohen family. The Steibel (formerly Stiefel) family was also prominent. (Dietz, Alexander, The Jewish Community of Frankfurt: A Genealogical Study 1349-1849, Vanderher Publications, Cornwall, UK, 1988, pp. 54,55, 344-347).
3. Emanuel: 1809 Heidelsheim Family Name Adoption List (“Emanuel Josef Karlebach”, Berthold Rosenthal Collection, c. 1935, AR 637, Series II: Community Histories, “List of Family Names Adopted by Baden Jews, 1809, F-J, Box 1, Folder 105, Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, NY, NY) states that he was age 34 (b.1775); His 1835 death record(“Imanuel Karlebach”, Op. Cit.) states that he was 54 (b.1780/81); “Familie Carlebach” states 1783. (“Familie Carlebach”, a rough family tree, was typed on the stationary of Joseph Tzvi Carlebach(1883-1942) and hence should be dated, circa 1920s. It may be, however, that the data was compiled by Joseph Tzvi’s father, Solomon Carlebach(1845-1919), and thus should be dated circa 1900).
1817 Birth Register (5/29/1817, pp. 8-9, "Sussel Marx", Heidelsheim Judische Personenstansregister, GLA Karlsruhe) lists him, as a witness, as "Vorsteher" (chairman of the Jewish community); 1822 Birth Register (3/15/1822, page 1, "Judas: Father: Marx Herz Marx", Heidelsheim Judische Personenstansregister, Op. Cit.) lists him, as a witness, as "Juden Schultheiss", Mayor of the Jews.
4. Beila Marx: 1809 Heidelsheim Family Name Adoption List (Op. Cit.) stated that Emanuel Karlebach's wife, Bella, was age 32 (b.1776/77); “Familie Carlebach” (Op. Cit.) states that her vital dates were 1775-1839 and that she was the daughter of Hirsch Marx. (Beila's brother, Marx Herz Marx, was married to Emanuel's sister, Gala Carlebach).
5. Joseph Hirsch(b.1802): 1809 Heidelsheim Family Name Adoption List (Op. Cit.) stated that Joseph Hirsch was 6 (b.1802/03); His 1834 Heidelsheim Marriage Record (7/9/1834, GLA Karlsruhe) stated that he was born 6/21/1802. For information about his life and family, see “Familientafeln/der Familien Carlebach und Preuss”(Carlebach and Preuss Family Tree), Miriam Gillis-Carlebach, Jedes Kind ist mein Einziges: Lotte Carlebach-Preuss Antlitz einer Mutter und Rabbiner-Frau, Dolling und Galitz, Hamburg, 1992, pp. 414-415; Naphtali Carlebach, The Carlebach Tradition, The Joseph Carlebach Memorial Foundation, New York, 1973, pp. 63,66,67.
6. Cilli Stern: 1834 Heidelsheim Marriage Record (Op. Cit.) stated that their date of marriage was 7/9/1834 in Heidelsheim, her name was Zirrla, she was born in 11/1811 in Michelbach an der Luck, that her father was Moses Nathan Stern. “Familie Carlebach” states that she died 6/18/1883.
7. Solomon: 12/28/1845 Heidelsheim Birth Record. For his descendants, see Rachel Schlesinger and Ben Schlesinger, "The Carlebach Rabbinic Dynasty", Shem Tov: The Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada, Vol. XXII, No. 4, Dec., 2006, pp. 1,4; Naphtali Carlebach's,Joseph Carlebach and his Generation,1959; The Joel-Adler-Carlebach Families, pp. 22-29.
8. Late 1700s rabbi? Herz Carlebach (1776-1851), another son of Joseph Hirsch and Beila Marx, was said by Alexander Carlebach (quoting the Memorbuch of the Mannheim Lemle-Rhinganum Klaus, 1711-1938, in Men and Ideas, Op. Cit.) to have been a rabbi. The Heidelberger Memorbuch (Op. Cit), however, states that Herz Carlenbach was a debit/loan trader. In serving as a witness for an 1819 birth(Heidelberg Judische Personenstandsregister, Births, No. 57, “Daniel”, 4/19/1819) his title is given as city taxator, as it does on the 1835 Birth Record of his granddaughter, Louisa, (Heidelberg Judische Personenstandsregister, Births, No. 4, 3/19/1835, “Louisa”) and the 1857 death record of his son, Emanuel (Heidelberg Judische Personenstandsregister, Deaths, No. 1/1857, p. 937, “Dr. Emanuel Carlebach”, 2/8/1857). In fact, Giovannini (Giovannini, Norbert, et al, Judisches Leben in Heidelberg, Wunderhorn, Heidelberg, 1992, p. 37) states that in 1832, the title of Taxator replaced his first name and he was then known as Taxator Carlebach.


Ish Yehudi: The Life and the Legacy of a Torah Great, Rav
Joseph Tzvi Carlebach,
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Shearith Joseph Publications, New York, 2008 Click Here To View Description

The World That Was Ashkenaz - The Legacy of German Jewry 1843-1945, Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum, Shaar Press, Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, 2010, pp. 355-358, 410-418. (Featuring HaGaon Shlomo Carlebach, R' Yosef Zvi Carlebach ) Click Here to Purchase Book

The Joel-Adler-Carlebach Families, Naftali Bar-Giora Bamberger and Alexander Carlebach, eds., Jerusalem, 1996.

Die Carlebachs-Eine Rabbinerfamilie aus Deutschland, Ephraim Carlebach Stiftung, Dölling und Galitz, Hamburg 1995 Click Here for Description

Jedes Kind ist mein Einziges: Lotte Carlebach-Preuss. Antlitz einer Mutter und Rabbiner-Frau, Miriam Gillis-Carlebach, Dolling und Galitz Verlag, Hamburg, 1992

The Carlebach Tradition: The History of My Family, Rabbi Dr. Naphtali H.Carlebach, New York, Joseph Carlebach Memorial Foundation, 1973

Joseph Carlebach and His Generation: Biography of the Late Chief Rabbi of Altona and Hamburg, Naphtali Carlebach, Joseph Carlebach, New York, Joseph Carlebach Memorial Foundation, 1959.

Men and Ideas, Alexander Carlebach, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, 1982, p. 382

Jewish Everyday Life As Human Resistance 1939-1941: Chief Rabbi Dr. Joseph Zvi Carlebach and the Hamburg-Altona Jewish Communities, Miriam Gillis-Carlebach, New York: Peter Lang, 2009


"Eulogy in Honor of Reb Shlomo Carlebach", Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau

"The Carlebach Rabbinic Dynasty", Rachel Schlesinger and Ben Schlesinger, Shem Tov, Vol. XXII, No. 4, Dec. 2006, Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada, Toronto, pp. 1, 4. Click Here to View Article

"Tender Reminiscences: Chief Rabbi Carlebach and My Family", E. Magnus Oppenheim

"History of the Carlebach Family of Heidelberg", Jeffrey A. Marx, 2011 (Repositories: Genealogical Collection, NY Public Library; Leo Baeck Institute, NY; American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati)

“Rabbi Joseph Carlebach Wuerzburg and Jerusalem: A Conversation between Rabbi Seligmann Baer Bamberger and Rabbi Shumuel Salant”, Shnayer Z. Leiman, Tradition, Vol. 28, no.2, 1994, Rabbinical Council of America, pp. 58-63



Eminent Rabbis

HaGaon Shlomo Carlebach

R' Yosef Zvi Carlebach

R' Naphtali Carlebach

Reb Shlomo Carlebach

R' Alexander Carlebach

R' Emmanuel Carlebach

R' Moshe Carlebach

R' Ephraim Carlebach

R' Shimshon Carlebach

Extended family

Gala Marx (Carlebach)

Yehuda Carlebach

Beila Carlebach

Sara Persitz (Carlebach)

Sara Stern (Carlebach)

Bella Rosenak (Carlebach)

Eliyahu Carlebach