ALTSCHUL, ALTSCHULER, ALTSCHUELER, or ALSCHULER:
Various forms of a family name borne by Ashkenazic Jews in many countries. Though each of these forms now represents groups that are distinct from one another, and that, apparently, are not interconnected by ties of relationship, they all seem to have had a common origin and to have been used and given without discrimination. It is, nevertheless, possible that the name at the outset was applied to more than one family. All records prove that the original seat of this family was Prague, the capital of Bohemia; and the transcription of the name in two separate words, , or , or the abbreviation of the same, —which latter has often been misunderstood (see Nos. 19, 27, below)—clearly indicates its etymology. It is derived from the Alt'-Schul' or Old Synagogue, which still exists at Prague, and is not to be confused with the Altneuschul; and the first Altschuls, or Altschulers, were either prominent attendants at or patrons of this place of worship (see Names).
The name Altschul is supposed to have been first borne by a descendant of Provençal refugees who had settled in Prague about 1302. Prague, besides being the place of origin, was also the chief seat for several centuries of the Altschul or Altschuler family. But after the expulsion of the Jews from that city, in 1542, many of the Altschuls who found an asylum in other countries did not return; and so, from the sixteenth century on, we find them prominent in what is now Russian Poland, Lithuania, and Russia proper (see Nos. 9, 23, 30), and in Italy (see No. 28).
Later, members of the family dispersed still further (see Nos. 3, 4, 12, 25, 29); and to-day the name is borne by numerous families throughout Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia (where it is claimed that the writer Moses Rivkes and even the Gaon of Wilna are Altschuls), England, and America. In the United States several Altschulers have achieved distinction, notably the Hon. Samuel Altschuler, candidate for the governorship of Illinois, and Alschueler, the violoncellist.
Reliable records from which to prepare a complete genealogical tree are lacking. The three charts given below are perhaps all that can be established with any degree of certainty. For the reason just stated, some members' names appear in the following biographical notices that are not in the charts, and vice versa. Because it occurs most frequently the form of "Altschul" has been adopted throughout the three tables, as well as in the list of individual members; though, as has been said, the other forms of the names also occur.
- 1. Aaron ben Moses Meir Perles Altschul: Died in 1739. He was the author of "Ṭeharat Aharon" (The Purity of Aaron), a commentary on Isaac ben Abba's "Seder ha-Niḳḳur"; making numerous additions to the text, and glossing many difficult passages in Judæo-German. The work was published at Offenbach in 1725 (some allege that it had been published in 1721 also); and a manuscript copy is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 792).
- 2. Abraham Eberle Altschul: So far as known, the earliest bearer of the name of Altschul. He lived in Prague toward the close of the fifteenth century.
- 3. Abraham ben Isaac Perles Altschul: Printer and publisher at Amsterdam during the second half of the seventeenth century. His father also was a publisher and printer. In 1678 Abraham produced a prayer-book for the Sabbath, and in 1685 reedited the "Grammatical Table" of Joseph Shalit. He is also the author of a cabalistic commentary on the Pentateuch, as yet unpublished (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 704, 1526, 2827).
- 4. Abraham ben Jacob Altschul, of Leipa, Bohemia: Printer at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, in 1697 (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 2817).
- 5. Ascher Anschel ben Naphtali Herzel Altschul: Printer in Moravia and Bohemia during the first quarter of the seventeenth century. In 1603 he was at Prossnitz; in 1604, at Prague with the sons of Moses Schedel; and from that year down to 1623 with various other Jewish publishers, notably the Prague firms of Ḥayyim Cohen, Moses Cohen, Katz, and Lemberger (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 2840).
- 6. David ben Aryeh Loeb Altschul: A learned member of the community of Prague; lived toward the close of the seventeenth century. He collected notes for a commentary on the Bible, which his son JeḦiel Hillel (No. 28) completed and edited.
- 7. David ben Eleazer Ḥanok Perles Altschul: Cantor at the Pinkas synagogue in Prague; died in 1733. On the death of Emperor Leopold I. (May 5, 1705), he composed an elegy in Judæo-German, which he called "Ebel Kabed"—Grievous Mourning (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 550, 884; "Serapeum," ix. 315, 344; Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." ii. 1320).
- 8. Eleazar b. Abraham Ḥanok Perles Altschul: Editor and author; died in Prague between 1632 and 1638. He was the editor of several works, to most of which he added remarks, glosses, or comments of his own. In the epitaph written for him by his son Isaac (No. 13) he is quoted as the author of several works; but these are no longer extant. The only one that may perhaps be attributed to him in its entirety is the "Diḳduḳe YiẓḦaḳ," a grammatical work; but it has been claimed that even for this book the notes had been previously collected by his father-in-law, Isaac b. Jekuthiel (Kohen) Kuskes, and that the name was not given to the work merely in honor of the latter. The "Diḳduḳe YiẓḦaḳ" is still unpublished (Neubauer, "Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS." No. 1497).The following works were edited by Eleazar: (1) "Ḳeneh Ḥokmah" (Acquire Wisdom), or "Ḳeneh Binah" (Acquire Understanding). This book, which is really part of the "Sefer ha-Ḳanah," and which the editor, in the preface, claims to have copied from a parchment manuscript "several hundred years old," found by his father in a loft, is mainly a cabalistic exposition of the "Ḳeriat Shema'," as well as of the divine name of seventy-two "letters of abbreviation," etc. (Prague, 1609-11). The Zohar and other cabalistic sources have manifestly had an influence on this work (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 637; "Literaturblatt," xi. 761). (2) "ZebaḦ Todah" (Sacrifice of Thanksgiving), containing the "Prayer" of Solomon Luria, the "Thirteen Prostrations" of Abigdor Kara, and the "Supplication" of Ishmael ben Elisha, published at Prague in 1615 (Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." vol. iii.). (3) "Yam shel Shelomoh," Solomon Luria's commentary on the treatise "Baba Ḳama" (Prague, 1616). (4) "Tiḳḳun Moẓaë Shabbat," a prayer-book for Sabbath night. A cabalistic exposition of the Sabbath-night service is added to the text; and toward the end of the volume there is a German adaptation of some of the prayers. The work was first published by Eleazar's son Isaac (No. 13) at Amsterdam in 1655; and with it is included the epitaph composed by Isaac for his father, of which mention has already been made (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 474).
- 9. Eliakim (Gottschalk, Goetzel) ben (Zeeb) Wolf Altschul Brodsky: Preacher and dayyan in Russia at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He wrote "SheḦif 'Eẓ" (The Thin Board; see Ezek. xli. 16, where sheḦif 'eẓ is translated "wood"), a supercommentary on Rashi; and "Ereẓ Ḥemdah" (The Coveted Land), on the division of Canaan by Joshua. These two works, together with an edition of the "Zebed Ṭob" by his father (Zeeb) Wolf Altschul, were published in one volume in Warsaw, 1814 (Fürst, "Bibl. Jud." i. 43; Benjacob, "Oẓar ha-Sefarim," p. 151.). H. B.W. M.
- 10. Emil Altschul: Austrian physician; born at Prague, Bohemia, April 8, 1812; died there 1865. The son of a rabbi, he was intended for a rabbinical career, and therefore studied Hebrew and the cognate languages. But a strong inclination for the study of medicine induced him to attend the University of Vienna, where he obtained the degree of M. D. in 1832. In Boskowitz, Moravia, where he practised, he made the acquaintance of a physician who called his attention to the high value of homeopathy, and from that time he devoted himself to this new school of medicine. In 1848 he became professor in the medical department of the University of Prague. He wrote: "Vollständiges Rezepten-Buch der Praktischen Augenheilkunde"; "Taschenwörterbuch der Praktischen Arzneimittellehre für Ausübende Augenärzte" (1836); "Miscellen aus dem Gesammten Gebiete der Medicin" (1838); "Der Homöopathische Zahnarzt" (1841); "Kritisches Sendschreiben über das Bisherige Verfahren mit den Sterbenden" (1846; this pamphlet, on the prevailing treatment of the dying, made a great stir among Jews); and "Lehrbuch der Physiologischen Pharmakodynamik" (1850).Altschul founded and published, in 1853, the first homeopathic magazine in Austria, under the title "Monatsschrift für Theoretische und Praktische Homöopathie."Bibliography: Bermann, Oesterreichisches Biographisches Lexikon, vol. i.; A. Schmiedl, Blätter für Literatur, 1847, p. 400; Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexikon der Oesterreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, s. v.S.
- 11. Ḥanok ben Moses Altschul: Learned member of the Jewish community of Prague; born in 1564; died in 1633. For thirty years he served as synagogue messenger and communal notary of his native town, and was one of the signers of the much-debated will of Mordecai Meisel. On one occasion, in 1623, Ḥanok narrowly escaped an ignominious death. Some tapestry had been stolen from the palace of Count Charles of Lichtenstein; and the investigation ordered by the "Stadthaupt" (city mayor), Albrecht von Waldstein, seemed to incriminate Ḥanok, as well as two Jews who had bought the stolen goods. The three were sentenced to be hanged; but, fortunately, facts exonerating Ḥanok were discovered and he was liberated.
- 12. Ḥayyim ben Mordecai (Gumpel) Altschul: Employed with his brother Raphael (No. 25) as a printer, probably at Amsterdam, from 1691 to 1732 (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 2849, 3023).
- 13. Isaac ben Eleazar Perles Altschul: Author; died in 1676. He seems to have settled in Amsterdam about 1650; for he published in that city the "Tiḳḳun Moẓaë Shabbat" of his father, Eleazar Perles Altschul (No. 8), and another Sabbath prayer-book, that contained a Judæo-German version of many of the prayers. To Isaac is also ascribed the editing of two cabalistic works: "SiaḦ YiẓḦaḳ" (The Meditation of Isaac), a collection of prayers, and "Wayizra' YiẓḦaḳ" (And Isaac Sowed), a key to the Zohar (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 474, 503, 1147, and in "Serapeum," x. 32).
- 14. Israel ben Solomon Altschul: Printer at Prague from 1613 to 1620 (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 377, 2913).
- 15. Jacob Altschul: Son of Moses ben Abraham (Eberle), No. 16; died in 1596.
- 16. Judah Aaron Moses ben Abraham Ḥanok Altschul: Rabbi at Kromau, Moravia, about the beginning of the seventeenth century. He was the author of an ethical work known by the title of "WayeḦal Mosheh" (And Moses Prayed; compare Ex. xxxii. 11). This, however, is really the name of only the first part of the work; that of the second being "Torat ha-Asham" (Precepts Concerning the Sin-offering). The "WayeḦal Mosheh" is a cabalistic ascetic treatise on devotion; while the "Torat ha-Asham" enumerates the various modes of penance for each transgression of the Jewish laws (Prague, 1613; Frankfort-on-the-Oder, 1691; incorporated also in an edition of the daily prayer-book, printed at Amsterdam in 1881-82). Three other works—notably his "BaḦure Ḥemed" (Desirable Young Men, Ezek. xxiii. 6), a commentary on ḲimḦi's "Miklol," and an independent work on ritual and dogma—are still unpublished (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 331, 1291; Benjacob, "Oẓar ha-Sefarim," p. 148).
- 17. Moses ben Abraham (Eberle) Altschul: Son of No. 2; lived at Prague up to 1542. In that year, when Jews were expelled from the town, he sought refuge in Cracow, and there became parnas (president) of the Bohemian congregation, which had but recently been organized. Moses married a daughter of Eliezer Trebitsch, rabbi of Schlettstadt, Alsace; and his nephew, the young Eliezer Trebitsch, who had followed Moses to Cracow, became rabbi of the same Bohemian community.
- 18. Moses Altschul: Son of Ḥanok (No. 11); succeeded his father in his communal functions; died in 1643. He was the author of "Zikron Bayit" (In Memory of the House), still unpublished (Kisch, in "Grätz Jubelschrift," ii. 38, and in "Monatsschrift," xxxvii. 131 et seq.; compare also Moses ben Ḥanok Altschul, No. 19).
- 19. Moses ben Ḥanok Altschul: Commonly known as Moses Ḥanoks, and often—as early even as 1676, on the very title-page of the Frankfort edition of his work—mistaken for an ish Yerushalaỳim (a native of Jerusalem). This error is due, as stated above, to a corruption of the initial letters of his patronymic, into . The dates of his birth and death are not known; but as his son Ḥanok (No. 11) was sixty-nine years old when he died (1633), Moses must have been born about 1545 or earlier. It is probable that Moses b. Ḥanok died shortly after the publication of his work, the "Brantspiegel" (1602). The Moses b. Ḥanok (No. 18) who wrote "Zikron Bayit" is the grandson of the subject of this article.Moses b. Ḥanok was a considerable figure in the history of Jewish literature or, more properly speaking, of Judæo-German literature; for he was one of the first to use the vernacular in a polished diction, though he dealt with a subject that was not new nor peculiar to the secular life—that of ethics. The "Brantspiegel" (Mirror), called in Hebrew "Sefer ha-Mareh," first published at Basel, was intended as a direct appeal to the Jews of the period to live in social and moral purity. The book is divided into chapters, the number of which varies from sixty-eight to seventy-six, according to the different editions. They all indicate the many roads to morality, and the penance that the Jew should undergo for deviating from these roads. The author alleges two reasons for the title of his book: (1) It was called "Spiegel" (Mirror) because the author wished that it should be constantly before the people, to show them their own presentments. (2) "Brant" or "Brand" (Burning; that is, Magnifying) was pre-fixed because, as the author states, ordinary mirrors make things appear very small; while this glass was intended to show objects (especially bad qualities) in enlarged forms, so that people would then try to remove them. The author remarks, in the preface, that his book may be read on Sabbath. The work became very popular; it called forth many imitations and analogous works, such as the "Sitten Spiegel," "Zier Spiegel," "Zucht Spiegel," and at a much later date the "Kleine Brantspiegel" (Small Mirror); and in the epitaph of Moses Altschul's son Ḥanok the work is expressly mentioned (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 1312, 1823, 1824, and in "Serapeum," x. 325; Wolf, "Hebr. Bibl." i. No. 1544, ii. 1272, 107, iii. 750; see also, "Monatsschrift," xxxvii. 131).
- 20. Moses Meir ben Eleazar Ḥanok Altschul: A highly esteemed member of the Jewish community of Prague, who maintained friendly relations with Samson Wertheimer; died in 1739. Moses was the author of several works, of which only two have been published; namely, (1) the "Megillat Sefer" (The Roll of the Book), a commentary on Esther, which appeared, together with Solomon Isaki's analogous work (Prague, 1709-10), and (2) his edition of the "Yashir Mosheh" (Moses Sang), of Moses Cohen of Corfu (Prague, about 1710; Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 1846).
- 21. Moses (Nathaniel) ben Aaron Freund Altschul: Printer at Prague toward the end of the seventeenth century. He was in the employ of the grandsons of Moses Katz in 1694-95, and in that of the grandsons of Judah Bak in 1696 (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 2996).
- 22. Naphtali Herzel ben Asher Anschel Altschul: Printer in the employ of Jacob Bok at Prague during the first half of the seventeenth century. His most notable production was a prayer-book for holy days—in editing which he was aided by his brother Simon—and the printing of "Ẓeënahu-Reënah" (Go Out and See), the well-known translation of prayers into Judæo-German (Prague, 1629; Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 389, 3012, 3049).
- 23. Naphtali (Hirsch) b. Asher Altschul: Talmudic scholar; lived in Russia and Poland—principally at Lublin, Miczdyrzei, and Jitomir—toward the end of the sixteenth and at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He seems to have traveled extensively, and in 1607-was at Constantinople. In the preface to his commentary, he mentions Bendit ben Joseph Achselrad, the author of "'Abodat ha-Lewi," and NaḦman, a learned relative of his.Naphtali was the author of two works, one of which was a commentary on the Prophets and the Hagiographa. This he called, in reference to his own name, "Ayyalah SheluḦah" (A Swift Deer; see Gen. xlix. 21), and supplemented it by a Judæo-German glossary: it was published, with the text of the Bible, at Cracow, 1593-95. The other, "Imre Shefer" (Beautiful Words), was an alphabetically arranged catalogue of all matters that preachers and rabbis were at all likely to discuss in their sermons, with indications as to the various ways in which each topic might be treated (Lublin, 1602). A rabbinical decision of Naphtali's is found in the responsa of Meir Lublin (No. 59?; Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 53, 2021; idem, "Jüd. Lit." p. 454).
- 24. Naphtali (Hirsch) ben Tobiah Altschul: Editor and printer at Cracow toward the end of the sixteenth century, where he seems to have settled, after having resided at Lublin. He was popularly known as "Hirsch the editor"; and to him are due an edition of Joseph Caro's "ShulḦan 'Aruk" (Cracow, 1593-94) and the publication of the Psalms in liturgical order (Cracow, 1598; Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 55, 1482, 3011).
- 25. Raphael ben Mordecai (Gumpel) Altschul: Printer; employed, with his brother Ḥayyim (No. 12), probably at Amsterdam from 1691-1732 (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." cols. 377, 2913).
- 26. Samuel Altschuler: Lawyer and politician; born of German-Jewish parentage in Chicago, Nov. 20, 1859; removed to Aurora, Ill., two years after and was educated in the public schools and high school of that city. Altschuler was admitted to the bar in 1880. He is affiliated with the Democratic party, and in 1892 was a candidate for Congress in the Eighth District, but was defeated, although he ran ahead of his ticket.In 1893 Governor Altgeld appointed him a member of the Court of Claims. He was elected to the legislature in 1896 and again in 1898. As leader of the minority he rose to prominence by defeating two obnoxiously corrupt bills. In 1900 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the post of governor of the state of Illinois, although he received 3,400 more votes than the Democratic presidential candidate.
- 27. Simon b. Ascher (Anschel) Herzel Altschul: Printer and typesetter in the employ of the sons of Jacob Bok at Prague in 1629 (see No. 22).
- 28. Simon ben Judah Loeb Altschul: Communal notary (sofer bet din) at Prague in the opening years of the eighteenth century (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." col. 3049).
- 29. Solomon ben Joshua Altschul: Writer; undoubtedly of German origin, perhaps from Prague; lived in Italy about the middle of the sixteenth century. He edited the "Megillat Sefer," a work on rhetoric by an unknown author, which is based on parts of the "Poetic Art" attributed to David ben Solomon ibn-YaḦya (Venice: D. Adelkind, 1552). Owing to the fact that Solomon had established himself in Italy, his name has sometimes been transcribed from its Hebrew letters as "Altosol."Bibliography: Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 570, 2284; Mortara, Indice; Alfabetico, p. 3.
- 30. Yehiel (Jehiel) Hillel ben David Altschul: Rabbi at Jaworow (Galicia) toward the middle of the seventeenth century. He completed the commentary on the Prophets and the Hagiographa which his father (No. 6) had begun, dividing it into two parts: (1) "Meẓudat Zion" (The Fortress of Zion), a lexicological glossary; and (2) "Meẓudat David" (The Fortress of David), a commentary on the Biblical text (in part: Leghorn, 1753, 1770; Berlin, 1770; numerous editions also appeared throughout the first half of the nineteenth century—at Slavuta, Wilna, Lemberg, Josefov, etc.). Jehiel was the author of "Binyan ha-Bayit" (The Building of the House), a work on the Temple of Ezekiel and the visions pertaining to it (Zolkiev, 1774; Leghorn, 1781).Bibliography: Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 144, 154, 1272, and Nepi-Ghirondi, Toledot Gedole Yisrael, p. 163, where the author's name is erroneously given as Alt-Schuld; Fürst, Bibl. Jud, i. 44, where the author is called Jehiel Michael, and is regarded as distinct from that of Jehiel Hillel; Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, ii. 18; Benjacob, Oẓar ha-Sefarim, p. 81.
- 31. (Zeeb) Wolf ben (Dob) Baer Altschul: Russian rabbi of the second half of the eighteenth century. He was the author of "Zebed Ṭob" (The Good Dowry; see Gen. xxx. 20), a work on the third Temple of Ezekiel. The title is intended as a pun on the author's name Zeeb (Shklov, 1794); another edition was published by his son Eliakim (No. 9); see Fürst, "Bibl. Jud." i. 44; Benjacob, "Oẓar ha-Sefarim," p. 15.Bibliography: For the entire Altschul family. S. Hock, Die Familien Prog's, under Altschul and Perles; Joseph Kohn, in Ha-Goren, i. 20 et seq.; Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 913, 914; Michael, Or ha-Ḥayyim, No. 490, Zunz, Z. G. pp. 266, 289.H. B.W. M.A. P.