accounts over the years:
- Segal Name Origins
- Segals and Siegels Today
- The Segal Lock and Hardware Company
- Joseph Isaac Segal in Montreal
- Benny Siegel and Las Vegas
- The Queen of Versailles
Segal Name Origins
The origins of the Segal name are not that
clear. The best evidence suggests that
Segal was an acronym of the Hebrew phrase segan
Leviyyah, a designation being applied to Levites many centuries
was used as a surname.
The earliest use
of this Segal designation was by Rabbi Isaac ben Eliezer who died in
1070. He was one of the great scholars of
was known as segan Leviyyah, meaning a Levite.
The acronym of Segal was used in the introduction to his Sefer Maharil. Segal thus
was originally a function and
title and then became a family name.
David ha-Levi Segal was one of the great Polish rabbinical
authorities of the 16th century. Other distinguished bearers of the
name included the 18th century artist Hayim ben Isaac Segal who created
interiors of the wooden synagogue at Moghilev in Russia and the
German painter Arthur Segal of the early 1900’s. Arthur’s
son Walter emigrated to England
where he developed a system of self-build housing in the 1950’s.
Segals and Siegels Today
The ollowing are the numbers in America today:
And this is where they came from:
The Segal Lock and Hardware Company
Samuel Segal, born in Russia, came to New York with his
parents in 1893 when he was eight years old.
One of his early jobs was
as a night
watchman in Miner’s Theater on the Bowery.
There he learned the English alphabet from the letters on the
seats. As a young man he also was an
amateur wrestler and weight lifter.
In 1912, while he
was working in the New
York Police Department, Segal began to experiment with burglar-proof
locks. His vertical deadbolt lock
eliminated the horizontal bolt and concentrated on the hinge
principle. He had noticed that burglars
forced locks but never hinges.
The following year he founded the Segal Lock
and Hardware Company in Manhattan with an original capital of $1,000. The firm relocated to Brooklyn in the
mid-1920’s. It was said that Segal and
his associates later refused an offer of one million dollars in cash
fifty separate lock patents.
Samuel Segal lived onto 1964. In
his later years he gave over the
management of the company to his brother Louis.
Joseph Isaac Segal
Born in Ukraine in 1896, Segal, whose native language
was Yiddish, arrived in Montreal in 1910. He spent the rest of
his life there.
He quickly found work in the garment industry where it was possible at
to work without having to know any language other than Yiddish. He turned to writing poetry in his spare
Successful in his community, he
left 12 collections and some 5,000 poems at his death in 1954.
Pierre Anctil in his 2017 biography Jacob
Isaac Segal: A Montreal Yiddish Poet
and His Milieu noted that Segal’s work reflected in many ways the
of Jewish immigrants to North America at the beginning of the 20th
well as the tragic experiences of Jewish intellectual refugees during
other immigrant authors, whose work was mainly inspired by
turned to the city in which he was living for inspiration.
His Montreal is full of bell towers, parks
Benny Siegel and Las Vegas
At the age of forty one, Benny Siegel had carved
out a notorious name for himself in the annals of organized crime and
Vegas history as well. Somehow he had
managed to walk between the raindrops and avoid conviction on a
crimes ranging from bootlegging to murder.
If he had not become a silver screen gangster, which his closest
believed he secretly wanted to be, he had accomplished the next best
thing. He had become a genuine gangster
star looks and had surrounded himself with the Hollywood glitterati.
thought of Las Vegas, they would always think of Benny Siegel. He had turned the Fabulous Flamingo there
into the snazziest carpet joint in Sin City.
Siegel and his friends had
bankrolled construction of the Flamingo with $1.5 million.
But in the months following the end of World
War II, materials were scarce. The job
immediately ran over budget. It didn’t
help that the four-floor Flamingo was built like a fortress, a
Siegel’s paranoia. The thick concrete walls were reinforced with steel
from naval shipyards. Siegel’s top-floor
suite was riddled with trap doors and escape hatches, one leading to a
car in his private garage. There were gun portals and hallways leading
nowhere. The Flamingo was in short a
physical manifestation of Bugsy Siegel’s troubled brain.
But it also was filled
with the sort of posh amenities never before seen in Las Vegas. Siegel
poured big money into carpets and fixtures.
He spared no expense on a pool, tennis courts and riding stables. Siegel’s idea was to create a real resort
capable of not only attracting the Hollywood set, but also to give
variety of diversions from their inevitable losses at the tables.
go down to Los Angeles every two weeks or so to meet up with his
Virginia Hill who lived in Beverley Hills.
He was there on the night of June 30, 1947 when an assassin
Army-issue carbine aimed at the back of his carefully coiffed head and
The Flamingo is still one of the large casinos in Las Vegas. It has long since shed its association with
Siegel’s kind. But management saw fit to
honor the Flamingo’s founder with a bronze plaque and a small rose
far from the original site of the Flamingo’s first pool.
The Queen of Versailles
In certain ways David and
Jackie Siegel were just trying to live the American dream – succeed at
business, own a big house, and enjoy the spoils of their labor. But after achieving those dreams, they found
themselves wanting more – much, much more.
Their 26,000-square-foot house was
simply not enough. Happiness could be
found, the couple thought, only by building the largest house in all of
– a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot mansion in Orlando, Florida which was
after the French palace of Versailles.
The mansion was complete with a bowling alley and roller-skating
wing for the children, ten kitchens, and $5 million of marble.
But when the U.S.
economic bubble burst in 2008, the Siegels – who were so wealthy that
seemed untouchable – turned out to be no different from the tens of
of families who lost their far-humbler dream homes.
And film director Lauren Greenfield was there
to capture their financial downfall, from Jackie Siegel’s $1-million
budget zenith to the family’s stuck-in-coach-class nadir.
Her documentary, The Queen of Versailles, came
out in 2012.
In one scene, a nanny
asks Jackie – a former beauty queen from a small town who was 30 years
junior – if one large, cavernous room in Versailles was a future
bedroom. “No, that’s my closet!” Jackie
eyes wide, grinning as if she almost can’t believe her good fortune.
the film, after the family arrives in an airport after having flown
first for the children), Jackie walked up to a rental-car counter and
clerk earnestly, “What is my driver’s name?”
Greenfield had met Jackie Siegel by
chance at a Hollywood party and immediately fell for the couple’s tale. The filmmaker had asked if she could
photograph Siegel’s ostentatious metallic purse and the image
one of Time magazine’s
Photos of the Year, illustrating the “high life” and “gilded age” of
America. But that was in 2007, when
David Siegel’s company – the largest privately owned time-share company
world – had netted him a billion dollars.
Greenfield commented on the film:
me, when I started the Queen of
Versailles, it was a little bit similar.
We see so much of the life of the affluent as
these packaged, manipulated reality-TV shows.
I wanted to do a real-life look at this family, particularly
Jackie and David had this other quality – a down-to-earth American
quality. They came from humble origins
and were a rags-to-riches story.”
David himself spoke as if this was a morality
tale at the end when he said:
“We need to learn to live within our means, we
need to get back to reality. I was using
cheap money to buy big buildings and I thought it would go on forever. And when they took away the money I was like,
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