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§14 Paltiel studies

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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By Hilel Lazarus

December 26, 1988

PALTIEL is a rather uncommon name, rarely encountered in the western world in modern times. The New York telephone books, all five of them, list a total of five persons there by the name of Paltiel. None are listed in the Los Angeles telephone books nor are there any in the telephone directories of the other three major cities in the United States and none in Toronto. Three families in Israel have been found with the Paltiel name but no connection is known to our ancestors. In fact, one such family in Israel, and another in New York, had a different family name and then changed their name to Paltiel for obscure reasons. THere is a very large Paltiel family now living in and around Ottawa, Canada with some relatives in the United States. They derive from one Chaim Zev Paltiel from Northwestern Rumania [sic] some five generations ago. Their tree into modern times is as follows: Chaim Zev Paltiel begot Zvi Yehuda Paltiel who begot Aaron David Paltiel who begot Professor Chaim Zev Paltiel who was a professor in Ottawa until his death in May of 1988. Two of his children, namely Ari and Ora are now our main contact Paltiels and their addresses will be given below for future reference. Another Paltiel family, originated in Northern Poland some generations back, now have family branches in Scandinavia. The contact person is Julius Paltiel of Trondheim, Norway. A Dr. Eliezer Paltiel earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania around 1976 but he does not answer my letters, supposedly forwarded to him for my by that university. One fellow named Sinai L. Putter from Redmond, Washington told me that he has two fmaily members from ancestry around Krasnobrod and Tomaszow and Lubelski in Southeastern Poland who have the middle name of Paltiel. He wonders why. So far, none of us with the Paltiel name in our ancestry, have been successful in linking up any of the mentioned families.

Our current Lazarus family got the name from Shmuel Lazar Paltiel who became Samuel Lazarus at the hands of British Immigration upon arrival in Leeds, England around 1897. His father was Ben-Zion Paltiel of Iwie, Byelorussia who I think must have been born around the 1840's. That is as far back as I can place our Paltiel name. As is the history of Europe, surnames (last names) were not required by law until the first third of the nineteenth century so we do not even know if our ancestors had the Paltiel name much before Ben-Zion Paltiel was born. Maybe yes --- [sic] maybe no. Mr. and Mrs. Ben-Zion Paltiel had only two childred as far as we now know. First was Shmuel Lazar Paltiel, probably born in Iwie around 1870 or 1871 and second was his sister Annie Paltiel, probably born in Iwie around 1878. Her son, Myron Levi, thinks that her assumed birthdate was 1883, so we have a five year range of estimates. In 1895, Shmuel moved to Devenishki and married Malka Lewin. They had two Paltiel sons there, namely Benzion Paltiel (Ben Lazarus) in 1896 and Yosel Paltiel (Joe Lazarus) in 1897. The rest of their children were born in England and were named Lazarus. Going back to Iwie for a moment, it seems likely that the elder Ben-Zion Paltiel had either a brother or a sister or both and possibly other relatives there by the name of Paltiel. We don't really know but can speculate for the following reasons. First, in our oldest family photograph, which I tentatively date to around 1880, there is a lady pictured with the Paltiel family. She may have been a sister to Ben-Zion. Secondly, Rikel Lebvol who moved to Israel around 1947, was from Iwie and her daughters believe that she was probably a grandchild of a Paltiel of Iwie. Please see their story in the Israeli section of our book and their branch of the family tree in our genealogical chart. We have no concrete evidence because of records left behind at the time of the holocaust. Our greatest linkage is that Annie (Paltiel) Levi of Hanford, California acknowledged Rikel (Rachel) and her family to be relatives.

*Footnote of January 9, 1989. Joseph Lazarus recalled some family story about another Paltiel brother of Shmuel Lazar and Annie Paltiel where, a long time ago, they had lost contact with him. We can only guess as to why he wasn't in the ca. 1880 picture.

The name Paltiel translates into something like "God is my deliverance" and is mentioned in the old testament. The first reference is "Raphu, from the Tribe of Benjamin, had a son Palti or Phalti, which was probably an abbreviation of Phaltiel or Paltiel in Hebrew." The second mention is "Saul had a daughter Michal. Her first husband was David and her second was Paltiel."

After an historical gap of some thousands of years, the name Paltiel shows up again in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Three modern reference works, copied in the following pages, refer to a Paltiel of Oria, Italy. My speculation, based upon what little I can learn from the references, is that one Paltiel ben Samuel was a smart young fellow who won the favor of a North African invader of Oria, Italy and was taken back to North Africa where he and his descendants became advisors to the conqueror and his descendants, eventually to the Caliphs of Egypt. To get the feet of this history, you will probably have to read over the three references several times, which I recommend. From what I can figure out, it seems that the family of Paltiel must have originated around Jerualem and then migrated to Italy. Paltel himself was taken to Africa and settled in Egypt. He, or his descendants, perhaps then dispersed back to Southern Italy and maybe even to Israel.

In tracing out his family tree, which I'll draw below, it seems that one man, "Amittai" had a son "Hananeel ben Amittai". He in turn must have had two sons, namely "Samuel ben Hananeel" and "Hisdai ben Hananeel". "Hisdai" was said to be a descendant of "Shepatiah", the liturgical poet of Oria, Italy. If "Hisdai" and "Samuel" were brothers, why wasn't "Samuel" also mentioned as a descendant? Anyway, sometime along the line, "Hisdai" took a wife and had a daughter, "Kassia". It appears, if I read the references correctly, that "Samuel ben Hananeel" took "Kassia, daughter of Hisdai ben Hananeel" as his wife, and thus married his niece. In any case, "Kassia" gave "Samuel" a son, namely PALTIEL BEN SAMUEL, and it is this person who had our family name. It would probably be more correct to say we had his name since he came first. This fellow is the one who became the Vizier or Nagid (adviser or point man) to the Egyptian Caliphs. Paltiel was probably born around the year 930, give or take a little. He in turn had two sons. The first was "Ahimaaz ben Paltiel", who must have been born around 1017 in Oria, Italy when old "Paltiel ben Samuel" was in his eighties. "Ahimaaz ben Paltiel" was a Chronicler and Poet and is responsible for writing his fmaily tree at that time, which now is the only record of those events. The other son of "Paltiel ben Samuel" was "Samuel ben Paltiel" and he succeeded his father as the Vizier to the Caliphs, as did the next 4 generations of his sons.

We have no way of connected the Paltiels of the old testament to the Paltiels of Italy and North Africa, nor can we connect any of them to our own Paltiel family name. It is just fun to speculate and dream. Reading the world history section of this book and looking a the maps of migrations contained in the references, we can imagine how people may have moved from the Mediterranean area up through Europe or perhaps through Turkey into what is now Southwestern Russia and northward through Rumania, [sic] the Ukraine and the areas around Minsk and Vilna, but have only our imaginations to guide us when wondering where our ancient ancestors may have traveled and settled.

My guess at the tree of "Paltiel ben Samuel" is as follows:

[diagram of Paltiel ben Samuel family tree]