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Generations of the Kahana

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From some of the comments I have received regarding my articles, there seems to be a misguided belief by many that the ancestry of today’s Jews has somehow been wiped clean as a result of the Nazis destroying Jewish records throughout Europe. This in many ways is a fallacy since for the majority of the Jewish population the records weren’t kept in the first place. Contrary to the Nazi propagandists, only a small percentage of Jewish families were of a socially high status, industrial magnates, or prominent in state politics that they maintained family historical records. Peasants, as most of the European Jews were, had no reason to keep records that had absolutely nothing of value to offer the future. This attitude was actually encouraged by the Rabbis who felt glorification of one’s past was tantamount to arrogance and false pride and only the House of David had the right to lord itself over others. Larger cities did keep records of the Kohenim or priestly derived families and these were usually kept in the synagogues and as a result they were destroyed during the war. Amazingly, in spite of telling the common people that glorification of one’s ancestors was not desirable, there was a major effort by the rabbis in Europe to try and prove that they were descendants from the House of David. So what does that tell you about their motivations? Amongst Karaites, recording the family lineage was a sacred trust. All part of the historical justification of Karaism in the first place. And as you can see on my website, the memorization of ten generations was necessary for the Ascent Ceremony. And since in most cases the Nazis overlooked Karaite communities leaving their historical records alone, it meant that anything written was preserved. In my family we have the good fortune of having a very complete genealogical records available. So to those that wish to argue with me about the impossibility of knowing my ancestors, I’d like to present them to you. With the hope even that some of you that read the record may possibly identify links to your own family if you have Jewish ancestry. As you will read, many of the branches have been lost to us but there is a chance you may know of some descendants that existed. But I’ll start from a more recent time point, that being from my ancestor Yaakov Kahana in the sixteenth century. His story is the ‘stuff of legends’ and I can proudly look back upon his life and say that what he did determined the direction of my family for the next four hundred years. So that being the case, I will begin there as I provide you with the Generations of the Kahana.


Kahana Chronicles

And in the year 1589, Yaakov Kahana, died in the city of Prague and his body was buried in a strange place by the Emperor and to this day we do not know where he was laid to rest. His wife Raisa Shakna remained in Brody with their two children, a son Yusef and a daughter Tanit. And Yusef held possession of the letter given on behalf of his father by the Emperor Rudolph II which granted the family rights and privileges which were to honour Yaakov for what he did in Prague during the years 1588 and 1589 which is described in the book Shadows of Trinity, and he hid the letter away until such time that his family needed to call in the favour from the Emperor. But Yusef grew in the ways of his grandfather on his mother’s side, Rabbi Israel ben Shakna, and he forgot the ways of his father for Yaakov was not there to guide him in the Karaite beliefs, since he was only a youth when Yaakov died. And Yusef Kahana married Reisel Heller, the daughter of a rabbi and they had a son, Aryeh Lieb Kahana, and he in turn begat Shalom Shakhna Kahana, who begat two sons, Jacob Kahana and Abraham Kahana. And Jacob had three sons, one named after his father and was also called Shalom Shakhna Kahana, and Joseph Kahana of Heller, and lastly Zeev Wolf Kahana, and they were rabbis in their day forgetting the ways of the family. And this son Shalom Shakhna Kahana had a son Abraham Aryeh Lieb Kahana, who in turn had a son Solomon Zalmon Kahana and that is the last we know of the descendants of that son. And those are the generations of Shalom Shakhnah Kahana the son of Jacob Kahana the Elder.

And the other son Joseph Kahana of Heller had many sons, and they were Mordecai Kahana, whom in turn had his own son Judah Kahana, whom begat Daniel Kahana, whom begat Mordechai Kahana, whom begat Judah Kahana and that is the last we know of the descendants of that son. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son named Daniel Kahana, whom begat Mordecai Kahana, whom had a daughter Esther that married Judah Greenfeld and that is the last we know of the descendants of that son. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son Haim and that is all we know of his line. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son, Abraham Lieb Kahana and he had three sons, David Heller-Kahana, Joseph Dov Heller-Kahana, and Hirsch Heller-Kahana and that is all we know of this line. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son Judah Kahana and he in turn had many sons, Jakob-Jokel, Zeev Wolf, Leibish, Nachman, Simeon Hirsch, Jehiel, Joseph Mordecai and a daughter Nissel. And there were no sons of Jakob-Jokel Kahana, and that is the last of his line that we know of. Zeev Wolf Kahana had a son that went by the name Nechemye Kahn and took for his wife Dvoyra, and begat Berisch Kahn whom also married a woman named Dvoyra and they in turn begat many children, Rikele, Nehemiah, Fradel, Henry, and Naftali. And Henry Kahn married Lottie Berkovics and they in turn had many children, Devorah, Gordon, Benjamin, Louis Avram-Leib, Annie, Esther and Joseph and that is the last we know of this line. And Naftali went by the surname Kahan and he married Estera Weiner and they begat Benjamin, Henry, Pepi, Gussie and Jennie and that is the last we know of this line. And Judah’s son Leibish had two sons, and these were Isaac whom married a daughter of the Panet family, and they had a son Arie Leibish, and that is all we know of the descendants of that line, and Berel (Dov) who married Sarah Taube Dortort and they had children, Fanny, Deborah, Simon, Louis, Regina and another daughter whose name has been lost. And Deborah married Sam Lieb Kalish and they had children, Rose, David and Helen. And Simon had children named Victor, Szeren and Louis. And Louis married Paula Klein and had children Laura, Adolph, Ernest, Harold, Sarah, Jesse and William. And Regina married Yehoshua Mordechai Dortort and they had children Arie-Louis, Sara Taube and Chaim Fishel. And the daughter whose name has been lost married a man surnamed Burger and they had two daughters, Sara and Ella and that is the last we know of the descendants of this line. And Judah’s son Nachman had a son Joseph Leib and two daughters, Malka and another whose name has been lost. And Joseph Lieb married Hantcha Panet and they had a daughter Frida Rivka. And Malka married Samuel Fruchter and they had a son Judah Arie. And the daughter whose name has been lost married Jacob Rosenberg and they had as son, Judah Abraham. And Judah’s son Jehiel had five children, Katriel, Haim Joseph Dov, Moses, Mordechai Arie, and Judah Jacob. And Haim Joseph Dov went by the surname Kahana-Heller and his children were Katreil, Moses Nachman, and two other daughters whose names have been lost. And Jehiel’s son Moses had a son Zvi Hisch Kahana-Heller. And Jehiel’s son Mordechai Arie married Tirza Fish and they had a son Yehuda Menachem Kahana and two daughters. And Yehuda Menachem Kahana married Frida Rivka Kahana, the daughter of Joseph Lieb Kahana and Hantcha Panet. And Jehiel’s son Judah Jacob had a son Samuel Zanwil Kahana and this is the last we know of the descendants of Jehiel.

And Judah’s son Joseph Mordecai Kahana-Heller had a son Jehiel Zevi and a daughter Channah Yente. And Jehiel Zevi had four children, Hayyim Aryeh Kahana, Joseph Mordecai Kahana, Jacob Gedaliah Kahana and Shraga Feiwish. And Hayyim Aryeh had a son Nahman who married Batyafa and that is the last we know of the descendants of Judah Kahana Son of Joseph Kahana of Heller. And those are the generations of Joseph Kahana Heller the son of Jacob Kahana the Elder.

And Zeev Wolf Kahana the third son of Jacob Kahana the Elder, had two sons, Judah Lieb Kahana and Abraham Aryeh Kahana. And Judah Lieb had sons Samuel Zanvil, Kalonymus and Aryeh Lieb Kahana. And Samuel Zanvil had two children, Nissel and Simcha Israel Kahana. And Simcha Israel had a son Samuel Zanvil. And Kalonymus had a son also named Samuel Zanvil. And Aryeh Lieb had a son named Nathan Zanvil haCohen Kahana. And that is all that is known of the decendants of Judah Lieb Kahana.

And Abraham Aryeh Kahana, the son of Zeev Wolf had sons Itzhok Kahana, Jacob Kahana, Joseph Kahana and Aharon Mordecai Kahana. And Itzhok Kahana married Rachel and they had a son Mordecai that was also called Mortche-Lieb Kahana and later in life he adopted the surname Goldenthal and he was married to Hanah Leah Belzar. And the children of Mordecai and Hanah Leah are well chronicled in the books of the Goldenthals of New York and there is no need to describe their generations here.

And Abraham’s son Jacob had sons Joseph Lieb Kahana and Itshak Kahana. And Joseph Lieb Kahana married Reizl and they had a son David surnamed Goldenthal whom married Mollie. And David and Mollie’s children were Joseph, Bernard and Mary. And Joseph married Anna and Bernard married Annie Kantrowitz and Marie married a man surnamed Newman. And the children of Bernard and Annie are well chronicled in the books of the Goldenthals of Connecticutt and there is no need to describe their generations here. Of the children of Joseph and Anna we have no knowledge of their descendants. And Itshak Kahana married Sura Ryvka and they had children Zelman, Moses Samuel Gershon, and Kalonymus and all were surnamed Goldenthal. And of the children of Zelman and Kalonymus we have no record but Moses Samuel Gershon married Sara Meir and they had two children Baruch Mordecai Goldenthal and Leya Goldenthal. And of the descendants of Baruch Mordecia and his sister Leya we have no record.

And Abraham’s son Aharon Mordecai Kahana had a son Zanvil Kahana who in turn had a daughter Sara and that is all that is known of the descendants of Aharon Mordecai Kahana.

And Abraham’s son Joseph had sons Julius and Jakob and a third son Nathan Hirsch who were all originally surnamed Kahana. And Julius adopted the surname Goldenthal after his brother Jakob obtained it for all the family and had three sons named Israel, Saloman and Joseph Lieb Goldenthal. And Israel had a son Iosif and a daughter whose name has been forgotten. And Iosif had a son Alexander and a daughter Rakhil. And Alexander married Carolyn Klarsfeld and they had a son William and daughter Edith. And William married Simone Grere and they had a son Henry Alexander Goldenthal and a daughter Mariamne. And Henry Alexander married Nawal El Hachem and that is all that is known of the decendants of Iosif. And the daughter of Israel whose name has been forgotten married a man surnamed Halperin who had deserted the Russian army and needed to be hid away. They married and he in turn adopted the surname Goldenthal but in actuality his descendants are Halperin and there are many in this family living in Israel that go by the surname Goldenthal today.

And Saloman the Son of Julius had three daughters, Katharina, Bertha and Rosa and the descendants of these daughters has been lost to us.

And Joseph Lieb had a grandson Bruno Goldenthal but the name of the father of Bruno has been forgotten and these are the all the descendants of Julius Goldenthal.

And Julius’s brother Nathan Hirsch married Marie and they had three daughters, Sara (Chaje), Tobi, and Rebekah Goldenthal. And Sara married Abraham Virtman and their children were Samuel, Esther and Mihaley. And Tobi married Ignatz Klein and their children were Emmanuel, Leni, Marie and Rebekah. And Rebekah married Solomon Neuman and they had a daughter Marie. And these are all the descendants of Nathan Hirsch Goldenthal.

And the third brother of Julius and Nathan Hirsch was Jakob Kahana who was the first to obtain the surname Goldenthal when it was granted to him by Oswald Von Goldenthal, a German aristocrat who was the burgermeister of the town of Goldenthal. Now the stories of Jakob Goldenthal are well known not only because of what I have written but also what is recorded in the Royal Archives of Austria. It was Jakob that found the letter from the Emperor Rudolph of Austria that had been given to his ancestor Yusef Kahana on behalf of his father Yaakov Kahana and used the promises of the past Emperor to request favours from Franz Joseph the Emperor of his time. It was this letter that obtained a place in the University of Leipzig for Jakob Goldenthal though he had no formal education, and it was this letter that obtained him the position of Principal for the Jewish districts in the Ukraine. And it was this letter that obtained for him the position of Professor at the University of Vienna. And it was this letter by which he became private tutor for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her children only to live in the shadow of innuendo afterwards. But there were many good things that Jakob Goldenthal did that overshadowed those that accused him of doing evil to the community and to those that were involved in his life. And Jakob had three wives the first whom he left in Romania while he travelled and lived elsewhere in the Ukraine and Europe. And this wife whose name has been lost to us had a son David and a second son named Haim Moses. And David married Reyzyl whom was also called Rosa and they had a son Simon Zeev HaCohen Goldenthal and two daughters, Etlya and Sura. And Sura married Nakhman Rapoport and that is all that is known of her descendants. And Simon Zeev married Sara Zelda Fraida his cousin the daughter of Haim Moses and she had a sister Clara. And their children were Morris, Max, Emma, Bessie, Clara and Zvi Hirsch that was called Harry. And Harry married Sophie Herscovitz and they had many children of whom are my aunts and uncles. And their son Joseph was my father and that is the line of my tradition.

And Jakob’s took a younger wife Anna Goldenblum who was also known as Johanna and whom he married in Vienna. And together they had a daughter Sidonia who married Armin Reisman and they in turn had a daughter Irene.

And Jakob’s last wife was Rosa and the children of this marriage are unknown to us and their descendants may have perished in the Holocaust.

And the story of Jakob Goldenthal is yet to be written as part of the Kahana Chronicles for there are many things he did in his lifetime that also are worthy of remembering.


Kahana (author) on June 04, 2011:

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THanks Alan, I will check it out. I do know the family made it to Septamania or the Spanish March in the 8th century. Could possibly be some remnants hanging from the brances.

alanbedford on June 04, 2011:

Have you checked for ancestors in Spain? It may be a coincidence, but I know that in Spain there is a historic surname: "Valle de Oro" which means "Goldenthal". The dynasty was formed in Léniz Mondragón, and the surname has been modified over the centuries to simply "Oro", or after intermarriages and emigration to Argentina, to "Barrera Oro". See:

Maybe some of you Goldenthals know the full story.

Isaac Meilijson on January 07, 2011:

Kahana, shalom. I'll continue with my question of six weeks ago. The Rav Yaakov Kahane that I want to link to other Kahane appears (with photo, life and name of written book) in the following site

Reb Yaakov is my relative, and we have quite a well ramified tree of his descendants as well as the descendants of his sisters. But it all hinges on this one person Abraham Yosef Kahane and his wife Hanna ,that died in Jerusalem in the 1890s and arew buried in Mt. of Olives.

Any help in finding out more details about the family roots of his father Reb Abraham Yosef Kahane will be much appreciated. The relevant shteytls are Kitav, Kolomyya, Kobaky, Vizhnitz and later Chernovitz, where Reb Yaakov was rabbinical judge. A Rav Yaakov Kahane (most likely the same I refer to) built or dedicated the Ohel Kohanim in the Jewish cemetery in Sighet. There must be a family reason for this.

Does any of this ring a bell?

Shabat shalom, Isaac

Hod Hasharon, Israel

Kahana (author) on November 24, 2010:

Shalom Isaac,

I will look through my records and see if I can find any links. The fact that your family came from Romanis provides a good possibility since we all seemed to settle in Romania in the 18th and 19th centuries. And I have seen links to the family that included Kahn, Kahane and Kahaner. The other link was the Katz family, who derived their name from the first two letters of the words KAhana and TZedek. I will soon be writing a hub on that particular link.

Isaac Meilijson on November 23, 2010:

My father in law Aron Rennert was the son of Sara Kahane, daughter of Abraham Yosef Kahane from Romania. Abraham Yosef had another daughter Hentze (Rosner) and a son Yaakov Kahane, that was a rabbinical judge. This Rav Yaakov Kahane was great grandfather of the archeologist Ehud Netzer that passed away earlier this month. Can any of you help us link our tree to earlier generations? Please send me an e-mail to

Kahana (author) on November 05, 2010:

Thankyou Yehuda. I am pleased to hear that the extended family is alive and well. Sadly, over the generations we have lost touch with many of the distant relatives. Even now, we have become so dispersed that even contact with the close relatives has become sparse and infrequent. I would appreciate if you could send me the family tree of your immediate family and then I can add it to my records. Todah rabbah.

Yehuda M. Traub, M.D. on November 05, 2010:

"Generations of the Kahana" is incomplete. Hayim Aryeh Kahana, the son of Jehiel Zevi and author of "Divrei Geonim", had more than just one child. His daughter Nissel married Alexander (Sender) Kratz, a wealthy merchant in Siget, and they had eight children, one of whom was my mother, Esther Kratz. I have three children and four grandchildren, so this branch of the Kahanas is still alive and well.

Kahana (author) on March 13, 2010:

Kalman, many members of the family were in Siret. I will email with the information I have.

Kalman Goldenblum on March 13, 2010:

My grand-father is from Siret, a town in the Bukovina area, once Austro-Hungary, now Romania. I realize that Anna Goldenblum was born in Vienna. Since the name Goldenblum is quite uncommon I would like to know if there is some connection. Appreciate to be contacted at

Kahana (author) on October 23, 2009:

Thank you Vivian. Definitely will have to update. Most of the records of relatives in Sziget weren't carried forward by my branch.

vkahn on October 22, 2009:

Time to update your yichus. Appears that my great-grandfather Berisch was the son of R. Yehuda Yaakov who was the son of R. Yechiel of Mateszalka

Julie on September 13, 2009:

wow. Fabulous, Allen. Thanks for writing this all down.

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