Austerlitz (family)

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Austerlitz is the name of a Jewish family. As is the case with all names derived from places, the surname "Austerlitz" does not necessarily signify that all the persons so named belong to one family. It denotes that an ancestor of the person came from that place or was for some time a resident there. In the tombstone inscriptions of the old cemetery at Prague this name occurs after 1620. The name is also found in Prague among those Jews banished from Vienna in 1670, and in other localities in Austria and Hungary. Of the members of this family known in literature and communal life, the following may be mentioned:

  • Aaron b. Meïr Austerlitz, secretary to the rabbinate of Berlin, 1775.
  • Baruch b. Solomon Austerlitz, rabbi in Cologne and preacher at Prague at the beginning of the eighteenth century; grandson of Baruch, an exile from Vienna. He was son-in-law of the primator (president of the congregation), Samuel Tausk, or Taussig, of Prague. He wrote approbations (haskamot) to an edition of the Midrash Rabba printed at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, 1705, and to the 'Arukh ha-Ḳaẓer, Prague, 1707. One of his sermons was published in Prague, 1713. His daughter became the second wife of R. Moses Charif (Brandeis).
  • Fred Astaire (original name, Austerlitz), the dancer and actor, is probably connected to this family.
  • Moses b. Joseph Austerlitz, a scholar and promoter of Jewish learning; lived in Vienna, but when the Jews were expelled from that city and from Lower Austria (1669), he removed to Nikolsburg, Moravia. His house was the resort of scholars, especially after the fire of Prague in 1689. Thus he helped to support the cabalist Moses ben Menahem Graf, author of Wa-Yaḳhel Mosheh (And Moses Gathered); Judah b. Nisim, author of Bet Yehudah (The House of Judah); and Isaac Zoref, author of M'ozene Ẓedeḳ (Just Scales), all of whom speak highly of him.
  • Samuel b. Simon Austerlitz, rabbi in Miskolc, Hungary. He was born 1870 in Vienna, studied in Pressburg under rabbi Simcha Bunim Sofer and was until 1896 rabbi of the temple club "Am Volkert" which later founded the famous "Pazmanitentempel" in Vienna's second district Leopoldstadt. After rabbinical positions in Pápa and Somorja, he was appointed 1914 chief rabbi of Miskolc and where he remained till his death in 1938. He was married to the daughter of rabbi Moshe Aryeh Roth, chief rabbi of Pápa.

Bibliography: Kaufmann, Die Letzte Vertreibung der Juden aus Wien, Vienna, 1889; Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. col. 772; Hock, Die Familien Prag's, ed. D. Kaufmann, Presburg, 1892.