Select Katz Miscellany

 

Here are some Katz stories
and
accounts over the years:

 

Katz Castle

 

Katz Castle is a castle above the German town of St. Goarshausen
in Rhineland-Palatinate.  The. castle
stands on a ledge looking downstream from the riverside at St. Goar.  It was first built around 1371 by Count
Wilhelm II of Katzelnbogen.
Though commonly known as Katz, this is actually a contraction of Katzenelnbogen.  The name roughly
translates into English as “Cat’s Elbow Castle”
and so is
popularly linked with that of the nearby Burg Maus or “Mouse Castle.” 


Early Katz Jewish References


According
to the Jewish Encyclopedia,
the Katz abbreviation occurred on a tombstone,
dated 1536,
in the cemetery in Prague.  It was found
also on a tombstone of the year 1618 in Frankfurt, in the books of the
Soncino family
of Prague of the 17th century, and in one of the prefaces to Shabbethai
ben Meir
ha-Kohen’s notes on the Choshen Mishpat in 1663.

 

Katz in America by
Country of Origin

 

Country Numbers Percent
Germany    747    40
Russia    663    36
Poland    198    11
Austria    159     9
Hungary     71     4
Total   1,838   100

 

Katz’s Delicatessen

Unfortunately, the exact history of New York’s kosher-style
deli is
hazy and may be lost to time.  Everyone
agrees that Katz’s was founded in 1888 at the corner of Houston and
Ludlow
streets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but by whom?
Some accounts point toward a Russian-Jewish
immigrant family, while others say the founders were German.  Most references seem to indicate that the
restaurant was started by the Eisland brothers who may have been German
or
Russian, depending on your source.

There is some agreement that the eatery was
sold in 1910 to Benny or Willy and Harry Katz, who were either German
or
Belorussian.  They changed the named to
Katz’s and moved the restaurant across Ludlow street to its current
location.

In
the early 1920’s the Tarowsky family, ostensibly from Minsk, bought in
to the
partnership and the two families would own Katz’s for nearly seven
decades.  Over this period the restaurant
firmly established itself as a beacon for preserving the flavors of the
Old
World and became the go-to place for millions of immigrants in New York.

Katz’s
fame spread not only through word-of-mouth, but also via the movies.  It was here that Meg Ryan performed her fake
orgasm scene in the 1989 romantic comedy,
When Harry Met Sally
.  An arrow points to the table where Ryan
sat with
co-star Billy Crystal.  At least once a
week a group of kids come in to act out the scene.
The deli also served as the venue for Johnny
Depp’s meeting with his FBI contact in the mob movie Donny
Brasco.

 

David Katz, Holocaust Survivor

David
Katz

was the only member of his
immediate family from Grodno in present-day Belarus to survive the
Holocaust.  He was in the fourth transport
of the ghetto there when it was liquidated in 1943.
He was interred at Birkenau.  After the camp
was liberated, he tried to make his way back to Grodno and was
conscripted into
the cavalry of the Russian army.  He deserted after only a few
days.

David had members of his family in New York and
he went there in 1946 and stayed with them in the Bronx. He
recalled that a relative came to bless
him on his arrival.  He met his
wife-to-be, Hilda Berman, on the boat on the way to the US.   When they met again two years later, they
married.

David ended up owning a
business with several other Holocaust survivors.  They
manufactured fireproof doors.

 

Return to Katz Main Page

 

Leave a Reply