Margulies Family History
Moritz Margulies and Clara Sussman
Unless otherwise noted, the following texts are my translations of excerpts from the chapter
"Die Margulies Familie"
in Meir Faerber's book, "Dr. Emil Margulies, A lifelong struggle
for truth and justice."
The Margulies Family
The Margulies family belongs to the intellectual aristocracy of polish Jewry.
The family history mentions their ancestors Jacob Margoles, a
scholar from the Humanistic Period, who corresponded with Reuchlin [1455-1522].
Graez relates, how Reuchlin begged the Scholar to teach him the Kaballa. The
careful Scholar politely delined this request.
Jacob Margoles was the direct ancestor of the great Talmud Scholar
Salman Margulies*, a historical adornment of Brody
Moritz Margulies a profound Talmud adept, was one of the early
"Maskilim", i.e. someone who managed to introduce wordly knowledge, and
non-jewish literature into jewish scholarly circles. He has published a
volume of hebrew poetry, and also hebrew translations of Schiller. He could
speak several languages; studied literature as a hobby; used his business
trips (he was a well-to-do businessman), for historical studies; after
a thorough analysis of the material, he was the first to write a modern
description of the life of Jud Süss [Joseph Süß Oppenheimer] and also
wrote an interesting essay on the false Messias David Alroy. He was
especially interested in family research.
Ephraim Zalman Margulies 1762-1828 was an important Talmudist in Brody, as well as being a banker and the head of a Yishuva.
He was recognised as an authority on questions of ritual.
Brody was then in Eastern Galicia, and is now in the Ukraine].
Not true, unfortunately. I suspect that Meir Faerber got his information from the
same source as the person who created our hand-drawn family tree. New data shows that the
Elyakim Getzel Margulies (b.1827) from whom we descend is not the son of Ephraim Zalman M. (b.1760),
but the grandson of another Elyakim Getzel M. (b.1765) who was Ephraim Salman's brother.
More about his descendents here :
No, we are not descended from Ephraim Zalman Margulies
Although we see signs that some of his children inherited his great
passion and original intellect, their characters were formed and
influenced much more by their mother.
Both Moritz Margulies and his wife Clara - born Syszman - later turned
totally towards western european intellectual thinking and acquired an
astonishing autodidactic education. She was born in Galicia but brought
up in the western intellectual tradition.
Although without regular schooling, she was able to acquire a diverse
education through reading and conversation, especially as the children
were growing up.
Upon marrying she immediately distanced herself from from the religious
and other jewish traditions, even more radically than her husband,
although they kept up affection links to the more religious relatives.
The children therefore saw nothing at home of jewish customs, prayers
and festivals, and heard no word of hebrew, or jiddish, which was
downright frowned upon.
But as her sons one by one heard the blood of their ancestors speaking
and they rediscovered their jewish feelings, their mother acted from
the heart, immediately supporting her children, and became an upstanding
jewess and warm zionist.
They had eight children: Anna, Isidor, Julius, Siegmund, Bella, Emil, Hans
und Heinrich. Three died in adolescence [Julius, Siegemund & Bella ?].
Despite mothering eight children, the intellectually interested woman did
not neglect Literature, Art and Society. She was especially interested
in the italian Renaissance and travelled often to Italy. She was much more
of an intellectual mentor for the children than their father. Her children
where glad to ask her for advice and help, and their problems and worries
found an understanding listener in her.
Both parents were long-lived and retained genuine friendships with their
grown-up children, providing a
stable foundation in their childrens' varied fortunes in life. The father
was over seventy, the mother was over 80 when she died in 1932.
It is characteristic for the intellectual struggles of the jews of this
period, how all the sons from such a pure east-jewish, but fully
assimilated household, after a short or longer taste of the fruits of
the german cultural environment, then turned to thoughts of the
Emil was in close contact with two of his brothers: the oldest, Isidor
and the youngest, Heinrich. The parents sent both of them, as well as
Emil, to larger cities, when they were still young, where they could
visit better schools than were available in the small town of Sosnowitz
[PL: Sosnowiec]. After completing german Highschool, Isidor came to
Austria, where he studied law. While he was working as Law-Praktikant in
Salzburg he came across a recently published brochure "The Jewish State"
from Theodor Herzl. This slim book caused such a change in him, that he
cut short his stay in Salzburg and moved to Vienna, in order to become
a student of Herzl's. He became a champion of this new ideal.
This is but one of the countless examples for the power of Herzl's
thoughts, that Isidor Margulies was brought to such an abrupt change
in his life, - a man who seemed destined to be a quiet, genuine Humanist
and Scholar, but was drawn into the political party fighting. He was
a leader in the zionistic dealings of pre-war Vienna, was Head of
the Jewish Minority League in Austria after the First World War, and
during those years, became totally fluent in Hebrew. After the German
Annexation of Austria he emmigrated to Palestine, where he still
lives now .
Under [Isidor's] influence, Emil Margulies, who had gone a similar
route in his studies and choice of profession, also jettisoned his
leaning towards German-ness and german culture, and took up the
From the two younger brothers, Hans became an author and journalist,
highly respected in the Viennese Press; He was Court-Reporter for all
major jewish trials, amongst others, the Schwarzbart trial, in Paris.
Nowadays he is living as emigrant in England.
A sister, Anna, was killed by the Nazis during the war.
This short account of the Margulies Family History shows clearly
the intellectual factors of this nation and their repurcussions
auf the destinies of a line of succession, which stands in full
development. The highly bred intellectualism, the force of wills,
the drive to achieve something for a regenerating nation, found
their strongest expression in Emil Margulies.
See also: Moritz Margulies
und Clara Sussman
- Dr. Emil Margulies, Ein Lebenskampf für Wahrheit und Recht, Faerber, 1949, Tel Aviv
- Jüdisches Lexikon, 1927