Horowitz Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Horowitz Meaning
Horowitz family has been one of the most
illustrious rabbinic families in Jewish history.
A family tree has traced
Horowitz origins back to the 12th century.
The Sephardic surname of this family was BenVeniste. This later changed to Horowitz after their
expulsion from Spain and their subsequent immigration in the 16th
century into
the small town of Horovice near Prague in the then German province of
Bohemia. From that time forward rabbis
of this family were to be found in Jewish communities in Germany,
Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire.
There have been
numerous spelling variations of this surname.
The three most to be found in America have been Horowitz,
Horwitz, and

Horowitz Resources on

Horowitz Ancestry

patriarch of the Horowitz family line is considered
to be Aaron Meshullam Horowitz,
founder of the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, who lived in Horovice and
Prague in
the early 16th century. He had eight
sons who began to spread this rabbinical family more widely in the
diaspora in Europe and also into Palestine.

There is one Rabbinic Horowitz line that is not
related on the male side. This is the
extensive family of Rabbi Naftali Zyi Horowitz, founder of the Ropshitz
dynasty in Poland in the early 1800’s. His mother was a Horowitz
by birth and
he adopted her maiden name.

Horowitzes started arriving in America in the
late 19th century.

America. The breakdown of Horowtizes
in America by
point of origin was approximately:

  • 44%
    from the Russian Empire
  • 44%
  • and
    12% from Germany.

rabbinical streak was brought to
America by Rabbi Pinchos D. Horowitz, the seventh generation descendant
Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz the Nikolsburger Rebbe.
He had come to Boston in 1915 during the
turmoil of the First World War and had been asked to be their Jewish
leader. He was succeeded as the Bostoner
Rebbe by his sons Rabbi Moshe Horowitz and Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Horowitz
and by
his grandson Rabbi Naftali
Yehudah Horowitz.

Horowitz from Kiev in Russia first came to America in 1928 to
perform at
Carnegie Hall in New York. He settled in
the US in 1939 and became an American citizen in 1944.
He is widely considered as one of the
greatest pianists of all time.

There were earlier Horowitz arrivals. Jacob
arrived on the Lower East Side of New York with his
family from
Hungary in 1883. He started making
Passover matzohs for the local Jewish population. His
descendants, the
Horowitz-Margareten family, became well known for their matzohs and
Passover products.

The Horwitz spelling also occurs, notably in the Chicago
area. Jacob Horwitz (originally Gurvitz)
came to Chicago as a young man in 1906.
In 1924 he started a company of personal injury trial lawyers
continues today with the third generation of Horwitzes.
Meanwhile Reuben Horwitz (originally
Gurwitch) made the journey from
to Chicago
in 1907.

Some Horowitzes arrived in America and changed their
name to something more anglophonic like Howard.

Howard, the professional
name for Moses Horwitz, was the leader of the farce comedy team The
Stooges that first toured the vaudeville circuit and then starred in
films and

Then there were one or two that adopted the Horowitz name.
Louis Tomchin came to New York from Minsk in
Russia in 1903 with his young son who became known as Sol Horowitz. Sol’s son Michael Horowitz was in the 1960’s
a close associate of the psychedelic drug promoter Timothy Leary and is
father of the actress Winona Ryder


Horowitz Miscellany

Aaron Meschullam Horowitz and His Descendants.  Aaron Meshullam built the famous Pinkas Schul synagogue in Prague, so
called as it was in the name of his brother Pinchas who was there to complete
its construction.  Its beginnings were a
prayer room in the Horowitz family house, first mentioned in writings
in 1492, and
this was later enlarged into a family-community synagogue.

Aaron Meshullam’s
grandson R. Pinkhas ben Israel and his nephew R. Avraham ben Shabtail
moved to Poland and marked the beginning of the family’s expansion
Prague.  Within a few decades the name
Horowitz became widespread all over the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The
members of
the family became rabbis in Prague, Cracow, Vienna, Hamburg, and

most famous of them in the 16th and 17th centuries were R. Yishayahu
Avraham Ha-Levi, known as Shelah Ha-Kadosh (the Holy Shelah), and his
Shabtai Sheftel. 

Jacob Horowitz and the Start of the Matzoh Bakery.  In
1883 Jacob Horowitz and his family packed their
belongings, traveled to Hamburg from their native Hungary and boarded a
for America. In the small village of Doragma, the Horowitzes had been
Their son- in-law, whose father was a rabbi in the nearby village of
Erlau, was
a Talmudic scholar.

family, as was typical of many immigrants from Eastern
Europe, settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Jacob Horowitz opened a tiny grocery store at
94 Willett Street.  However, he quickly
recognized the opportunity to make Passover matzoh for the
rapidly increasing Jewish population. No matzoh was baked commercially
at that
time.  Families or synagogue
congregations usually got together to make their own.

Horowitz arranged
for the use of a bakery on Orchard Street by agreeing to purchase flour
the bakery owner.  He put most of his
family to work making matzoh.  Sadly he
died before he could observe his first Passover in New York.

was his sons
plus his daughter Regina (who had married Ignatz Margareten) who
carried on the
Matzoh bakery.  This family became known
as the Horowitz-Margareten family.

The Horwitz Family – from Latvia to Chicago.  The
family spelling was originally Gurvitch but
became Horwitz somewhere along the way to America.
Reuben Horwitz grew up with twelve siblings
in the Rezekne township in Latvia.

story was a well-known one in the Horwitz family.  The
twins, Bessie and Florence, had gone down
to the river to watch the women do the laundry. There was a crowd
around and
Florence was knocked into the river. Bessie called for help and
Florence was
saved. But they made Bessie take her dry clothing off for Florence.
Bessie was
cold and naked. They were both about 10 years old. The year would have
about 1906, one year before they came to America.”

of the siblings came to America and settled in the Chicago area.  Reuben came in 1907 via London and
Montreal.  He in fact met his wife
Paulina in London and married her in Montreal.

Florence and her twin sister Bessie were the youngest
of the Horwitz children and the last to leave. They arrived in Chicago
around 1909,
aged around 13 years. They were accompanied on their journey by their
older siblings
Ida and Morris.  Apparently on arrival in
New York the girls worked in a glove factory sweatshop on the Lower
East Side
so that they could accumulate money to complete the trip to Chicago.

Vladimir Horowitz at Carnegie Hall.  Vladimir Horowitz gave his United States debut on January
12, 1928, in Carnegie Hall in New York, playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

success with the audience was phenomenal.  Olin
Downes, writing for the New York Times,
credited the pianist with both a beautiful
singing tone in the second movement and a tremendous technique in the
referring to Horowitz’s playing as a “tornado unleashed from the

this debut performance, Horowitz demonstrated a marked ability to
excite his
audience, an ability he maintained for his entire career. As Downes
“It has been years since a pianist created such a furor with an audience
this city.”Downes went on to characterize the pianist’s playing as
“most if not all the traits of a great interpreter.”

1933 he played
for the first time with the conductor Arturo Toscanini in a performance
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 Emperor.
Horowitz and Toscanini went on to
perform together many times, on stage and in recordings.

Naftali Y. Horowitz the Bostoner Rebbe.  Naftali Yehudah Horowitz is the third and youngest son
of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz and succeeded him as Bostoner Rebbe in
2009.  He is a ninth-generation
descendant in the male line of Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Horowitz, the 18th
Nikolsburger Rebbe.

eldest brother, Rabbi Pinchos Dovid Horowitz, is the
Bostoner-Cluster Ray of Borough Park, Brooklyn and his other brother
Mayer Alter Horowitz is the Bostoner Rebbe of Har Nof, Jerusalem.  His sister Shayna Gittel is married to the
Rebbe of Flatbush, Brooklyn and his sister Toba Leah is married to
Dayan Rabbi
Moshe Chaim Geldzheler of Jerusalem.


Horowitz Names

  • Jacob Horowitz founded
    the Matzoh bakery on the Lower East Side of New York in 1884. 
  • Rabbi Pinchos D. Horowitz began the family line of Bostoner Rebbe on his arrival in Boston in 1915. 
  • Vladimir Horowitz who first came to
    America in 1928 is widely considered as one of the greatest pianists of all time. 
  • David Horowitz grew up in New
    York in the 1950’s in left wing radical circles and subsequently became one of their fiercest critics

Select Horowitz Numbers Today

  • 200 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in New York)


Select Horowitz and Like Jewish Surnames

The Jews were banned from England in 1290 and did not return there until the 1650’s, sometimes in the form of Portuguese traders.  They were to make their mark as merchants and financers in London and many families prospered.  There was another larger Jewish influx in the late 1800’s.

In America the early settlement of Sephardic Jews was in Charleston, South Carolina.  In the 19th century Ashkenazi Jews started to arrive from Germany.  Later came a larger immigration from a wider Jewish diaspora.  Between 1880 and 1910 it is estimated that around two million Yiddish-speaking Jews, escaping discrimination and pogroms, arrived from the Russian empire and other parts of Eastern Europe.

Some Jewish surnames reflect ancient Biblical names, such as Cohen and Levy.  Some have come from early place-names where Jews resided, such as Dreyfus (from Trier), Halpern (from Heilbronn) and Shapiro (from Speyer).  Many more surnames came about when Ashkenazi Jews were compelled by Governments to adopt them in the early 1800’s.  The names chosen at that time were often ornamental ones – Bernstein or Goldberg or Rosenthal for example.  Then the name could change on arrival in America at Ellis Island.  And finally anti-Semitism perceived could cause further changes to conceal Jewishness.

Here are the stories of some of the Jewish surnames that you can check out here.




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