Many published family trees of the historical Horowitz family of Prague and Horovice, Bohemia trace the origins of the family back to Catalonia, Spain and to Lunil, Provence, France, in particular to the esteemed Benvenisti Halevi Family, which included renowned early rabbinic authorities Rabbi Aaron Halevi of Barcelona and Rabbi Zerachiah Halevi of Girona, author of Baal Hamaor (the Book of Light). The purpose of this article is to review the descriptions of the Horowitz genealogy to ascertain where and when this tradition might have developed.
Circa 1650. The great scholar Rabbi Yeshaya ha-Levi Horowitz (c.1565–1630) authored the encyclopedic ethical work Shnei luḥot ha-berit, published 1648 in Amsterdam by the publisher Immanuel Benvenisti (1608-1665) (both book and author are known by the acronym Shelah). There is no indication in the book that there is any family connection between the author and publisher. The earliest known mention of the origins of the Horowitz family is found in the ethical will of Rabbi Sheftel (Shabtai) Halevi Horowitz (1590-1660) which was appended to Yesh Nochlin (1615), a tome written by his grandfather Rabbi Abraham (son of Shabtai) Horowitz (1540-1615) and published in 1701. Rabbi Sheftel writes very strongly about the importance of knowing one’s family history, but makes no mention of an Iberian background:
As is well known the third destruction (after the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem) in the year 1648 caused massive loss of life and also caused confusion about family identity [ed. – referring to the Khmelnytsky Uprising]. The sages of that time tried to salvage the family lineages but there was a limit to how much they could do, and there is reason to fear that in later times people will claim to be part of a distinguished family or to place a blemish in a holy seed. Therefor it is important for anyone who lives in such a time to write a clear pedigree and leave it for his children so that they may know precisely from whom they are descended. I therefore wish to tell you my beloved young and wise son Isaiah (SG”L) that you are my son, and I am the son of the Gaon and pious Rabbi Yeshaye SG”L author of Shnei Luchos HaBris, grandson of Rabbi Avrohom son of Rabbi Sheftel, author of Emek Brachah, and Rav Sheftel was the son of Rabbi Yeshaye SG”L and he (Rabbi Yeshaye) was the son-in-law of the prince Akiva of Oben (Obuda, now part of Budapest) who is buried in the holy community of Prague near the grave of my mother. My mother Chaya was said in her time to have performed all the good deeds of the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. She was the daughter of a Torah scholar, who was also a great philanthropist, and [your] mother, too, was from a great family the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Charif (the sharp mind) son of Rabbi Israel of Lublin, and all of them were of pure family lineage. I have written this not that I wish to boast of it just that you and my daughter should know who you are and who are your ancestors, and you should instruct your children, and they to their children for all time, for the Holy One blessed be He only rests His presence on those of pedigree.
Circa 1740. A further Horowitz genealogy does not appear for another century, in the work of Rabbi Pinchas Katzenellenbogen (1691–1767,), a great-grandson of the famed Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz of Cracow (through his daughter Hinda). Rabbi Katzenellenbogen wrote a masterful historical memoir named Yesh Manchilin containing many genealogical details and family trees. This invaluable source remained only in manuscript form in the Oppenheim collection in the Bodleian library, until transcribed and published by Rabbi Isaac Feld in 1986 (Machon Chasam Sofer, Jerusalem). There are several chapters devoted to Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz and the Horowitz family. In Chapter 135 Rabbi Katzenellenbogen writes about the family but says nothing of Iberian origins:
I will copy that which I saw in a manuscript volume of Rabbi Aryeh Leib, the rabbi of Boskovitz, the son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel, rabbi of Raustitz and head of the rabbinical court of Nikolsburg, son of the elder sage Rabbi David, rabbi and av beth din in Trebitsch.My ancestor wrote the order of genealogy of the family Horowitz in Prague: This is what I have been told by R. Zalman Fischhof of Vienna. R. Yisrael S.G.L.: his son R. Pinchas built the synagogue in Prague; his son Yeshaye (son of Pinchas); Zalman (son of Yeshaye); three daughters of R. Yeshaye were (1) Raizel, (2) Nechama, and (3) Nissel. R. Lipman (in the manuscript it says in parenthesis—“this may be Rabbi Uri Lippmann [the famed preacher in Vienna and Prague-ed.] who was the father of the well-known printer in Sulzbach who lived to a great age, R. Aron”) was the son of the aforementioned Raizel, the wife of R. Uri Kelma [Kuma, Kamen]; R. Shimon son of Raizel; R Zalman Fischhof son of Shimon. [As for] the above-mentioned R Lipman: (in the manuscript it says “If this is the R Lipman who was the father of R Aron the printer, then R. Aron would be the brother of Hendel who is the maternal grandmother of the above-named Rabbi David, and that seems illogical to assume that R. Aron could be a sibling of Rabbi David’s grandmother, and that is a sufficient discussion.”).
Circa 1800. Some genealogists have claimed that the encyclopedic work Shem Hagedolim of Rabbi Chaim David Azulai (1724-1806) is evidence of the Spanish Benveniste origins of the Horowitz family. However, the Horowitz family is mentioned only briefly as a prestigious family of scholars, and no mention is made of any Spanish and Provencal antecedents.
19th and 20th Century Sources: the Lewenstein Connection
It is well known that there was a sudden outpouring of rabbinical biography and genealogy published at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including several dedicated to our subject matter. It is in these compilations that we here of Horowitz Iberian origins for the first time. 
1883. The first such printed documentation mentioning the Spanish connection is an article by Yitzchak Meir Lewenstein, the son of Rabbi Yosef Lewenstein of Serock, in the newspaper Hamelitz February 26 1883, with further installments March 9 and 22. This long Horowitz genealogy claims to be based on a handwritten family yichus brief discovered in the possession of his father. What Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Lewenstein actually wrote (incidentally two of his grandchildren died just last year at age 95 and 98!) was:
….. Rabbi Akiva Kohen’s daughter married Yeshaye from Horovitz in Bohemia. He was an offshoot of the tree of our Rabbi Isaac the Levite (who is quoted in the talmudic novellae of R. Solomon b. Aderet on megilah 26 and Gittin 41b) who was the son of Rabbi Pinchas the Levite (who is quoted by R. Yomtov b. Ashevili in many places) the brother of Rabbi Aaron the prince of the Levites of Barcelona, author of the book of education (Hachinuch) and Bedek Habayit, who was called the Re’ah and was a disciple of Nachmanides and R Solomon b. Aderet; son of R. Yosef.
Rabbi Lewenstein’s use of the term “Prince of the Levites” is an indication that he may have based his conclusion on the colophon found in the Shulchan Aruch of Cracow printed in 1617 by Shmuel Horowitz (1560-1622): “Shmuel son of the great Gaon, prince of the princes of the Levites, the complete and pious Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz.” This title, according to my computer searches, has only been used by about three people since the first usage in Chumash Bamidbar, the author of Yad Ramah, Rabbi Aron Halevi of Barcelona and Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz.
1899. Moshe Yaakov Schwerdscharf published Daat Lenvonim in Munkach, and he followed this with another genealogical work Geza Tarschishim published in Lemberg (Lwow) in 1905. This is just one of the many genealogical works written in rabbinic Hebrew which are now available online without charge from http://www.hebrewbooks.org/ In both these works, Schwerdscharf appears to quote the article by Rabbi Lewenstein verbatim, although without mentioning his source:
Yeshaye Halevi from the city of Horovice in Bohemia, according to what is told he owned the village of Horovice and was therefore known as “Ish Horowitz.” And he was a descendant of Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi, son of Rabbi Pinchas Halevi who was the brother of Rabbi Aron Halevi of Barcelona, prince of the Levites, who was known as Re’ah and author of Bedek Habayit and the Sefer Hachinuch. They were sons [descendants] of Rabbi Zerachiah Halevi, son of Yitzchak Halevi, son of Rabbi Zerachiah Halevi, author of Baal Hamaor, which he completed in Lunil in 4910 (1150) where he died in 1186.
1900. Rabbi Chaim Aryeh Horowitz of Cracow published a volume of his talmudic novellae titled Chaye Aryeh and added a preface with his family history. He writes of the first known Horowitz, Yeshaya Horowitz of Prague, “it was said of him that he was an emigrant from Spain, a descendant of R. Yitzchak Halevi, son of R. Pinchas Halevi the brother of Rabbi Aron Halevi.”
1902. Pinchas Pessas of Dubna published another Horowitz genealogy which he called Ateret Haleviim (Crown of the Levites). Here too, the author cites the tale of Spanish origin, but as something that is told. He does not give a specific source although the book is otherwise thoroughly footnoted and sourced.
1903. Rabbi Shmuel Zanvil Kahana published Anaf Etz Avot (branches of the tree of ancestors). It is a highly organized work with tables of ancestors and descendants, with each generation numbered and indexed. There is a part of the book devoted to the Horowitz family and he lists this Halevi ancestry, and gives as sources a letter from the famed genealogist Rabbi Joseph Lewenstein of Serotsk, and a book entitled Ohr Hachaim (Ch. 293). Ohr Hachaim is the bibliographic and historical work of Heimann Joseph Michael of Hamburg (1792-1846) published in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1891. However, while the chapter cited gives the genealogy of the Halevi family of Barcelona and Lunil, it never mentions a link to the well-known Horowitz family.
1905. Avrohom Michelsohn, a son of the famed rabbi and genealogist Rabbi Zvi Yechezkel Michelsohn, published an historical and genealogical introduction to an anthology of the teachings of Rabbi Shmelke Horowitz of Nikolsburg (1726-1778) named Shemen Hatov. Michelsohn repeats the tale of the Horowitz family being descended from Rabbi Zerachiah Halevi.
“My father the great rabbi (Zvi Yechezkel Michelsohn) is the son of Rabbi Avraham Chaim, who was the son of Rabbi Yaakov Yechiel Mechel. Rabbi Yaakov Yechiel Michel was the son-in-law of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch (Levin) who was the son-in-law of Rabbi Avraham Yoel Halevi Ish Horowitz, son of Rabbi Zvi Yehoshua [rabbi of Trebic (and Prosnitz)], son of Rabbi Shmelke Horowitz and son-in-law of his uncle Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz of Frankfurt. They (i.e. Rav Shmelke and Rav Pinchas) were the sons of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Horowitz rabbi of Czortkov, son of Rabbi Meir Horowitz of Tiktin, son of Rabbi Shmelke of Tarny, son of Rabbi Yehoshua Ha-Aruch, son of Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz of Krakow [brother-in-law of Rema rabbi Moshe Isserles], son of Rabbi Yisrael Halevi Horowitz of Prague, son of the great Rabbi Aaron Meshulam Halevi son of the prince and nobleman Rabbi Yeshaye Halevi from the town of Horovice in Bohemia. He was the owner of the town and later moved to Prague where he was called Ish Horowitz. He was the son of Yosef from the family of Yitzchak Halevi son of Pinchas [brother of Rabbi Aron Halevi author of Sefer Hachinuch] son of Rabbi Yosef son of Rabbi Benvenisti, son of Rabbi Yosef, son of Rabbi Zerachiah, son of Rabbi Yitzchak, son of Rabbi Zerachiah Halevi who is called Baal Hamaor. All this is what is written in Daas Lenevonim, Ateres Haleviim, and look also at Anaf Etz Avos.”
1909. In Piotrków, Abraham Joseph Fisher, from the town of Aleksandrów near Lodz, published a book of Talmudic commentary by Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz of Prague and Krakow, whom I mentioned above. The title page accurately describes R. Pinchas as having come from Prague to Krakow and as a brother-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Isserles (the renowned Rema), a relative of the Tosfos Yom Tov (who married a great-niece of R. Pinchas) and a relative of Rabbi Yeshaye Horowitz the author of Shelah. The introduction includes a great deal of genealogical material, although much of it duplicates that which was published elsewhere in the few years prior. But the most important factor is that the manuscript of Beth Pinchas was in the possession of Rabbi Lewenstein of Serock who gave it to Fisher to transcribe and publish.
1928. Rabbi Zvi Halevi Horowitz of Dresden, a scholar and historian, produced a family history of the Horowitz clan. This was first published in the Zeitschrift fur die geschichte der juden in die Czechoslovakei II 89–109, 222–229, and III 127–137, 221–22; also as an appendix to a talmudic work published by his brother Rabbi Moshe Horowitz, Tov Ayin, and as a separate book Toldot Mishapachat Horowitz (Cracow 1928). In the German version he cites more sources, but the only ones he presents for this earlier ancestry are his father’s introduction to Chaye Aryeh and the Megilas Yuchson of Rabbi Meir Perels in the Warsaw edition of 1889. The Megilas Yuchsin however seems to say no more and no less than is found in the will of Rabbi Sheftel Horowitz that has been previously mentioned. The Megilas Yuchsin does not mention the Spanish antecedents, rather it is in a footnote in the Warsaw edition that it was added by the publisher, thus not giving us any earlier source for the tale.
2004. Another discussion of the early ancestry of the Horowitz dynasty is found in a thorough article by Rabbi David Nachman Rotner of Jerusalem, published in the journal of the Stoliner chassidim in Kovetz Bais Aron VeYisrael (No. 113, page 155–161) in 2004. He quotes the Prague museum and archives wherein there are several mentions of R. Asher Zalman (Zelikman) Horowitz, father of R. Yeshaye Horowitz whom the earlier genealogists consider the first known generation of Horowitzes. Rabbi Rotner appears to have made a very intense study of the original records, even finding an earlier generation in the original Prague records. I was hopeful he might shed some more light on the Spanish connection, but he does not.
There are certainly more examples of references to the Spanish origins of the Horowitz family in private genealogies of the past 100 years. Judy Goldberg writes: “I have a hand written document that is titled “Seder Ha’Dorot” סדר הדורות in our family that starts in Barcelona with Aharon and Pinchas Ha’Levi and ends with my great-grandfather the last rabbi of Dubova, Ukraine Moshe Aharon (Bernstein) Berdichevsky (1845-1919). We do not know who wrote it but we think it was either written by his oldest son Yechiel Micha Yoseph Berdichevsky (1865-1921) or by his wife and his right hand Rachel (née Ramberg) Berdichevsky (1879-1955).”
One wonders whether – given the fact that a devoted genealogist of the family living in the 1740’s had not heard of a connection to the illustrious ancestor Rabbi Zerachya Halevi and the Benveniste Family – this family legend documented 140 years later should be considered reliable? Was it merely inferred from the fact that the Shnei Luchot Habrit was published by Immanuel Benveniste?
Perhaps we should consider it more of a tradition and legend than an established fact, particularly since:
(1) Rav Sheftel Horowitz, the son of Rabbi Yeshaye Horowitz, writing between 1650 and 1660, while recalling his family lineage with pride, does not include the prior generations before Rabbi Yeshaye Horowitz (the 1st), and
(2) the careful genealogies of the family only allude to the Benveniste connection as כפי המסופר (“as has been told”) or מספרים במשפחתנו (“they tell in our family”) and only those who wrote much later incorporated it as documented fact 
Rabbi Avrohom Marmorstein is the rabbi of Congregation Minchas Chinuch of the West Side in New York City. Born in England and educated there and in the USA, he has long enjoyed finding more ancestors and relatives of his wide-ranging family. He also works as a hospital chaplain, and director of a kosher certification agency.
 In the appendix to this chapter, Rabbi Feld notes that the chapter was especially hard to read and notes that newer technology may be able to restore greater legibility. Perhaps a volunteer would peruse the Bodleian manuscript with better lighting and photo-corrective scans which would add some information to this chapter.
 We have not been able to reconcile this account of the ancestors of R. Zalman Fischhof. Compare http://www.geni.com/people/Meshulam-Zalman-Auerbach/6000000004957016884 with http://www.geni.com/people/Zalman-Fischhof/6000000040838745842.
 Incidentally, Rabbi Shmelke Horowitz taught his disciples that he felt a special connection to the prophet Samuel, as recorded in the book Nazir Hashem, but he did not mention to them that he was a descendant of the venerated prophet though he too was from this prestigious line.
 This in itself gives more strength to the Levensteins as guardians of the Horowitz heritage. I remember that when I first went to study in the yeshiva in Gateshead, the tractate studied at the time was Yevamos, and it was this volume of commentary that was most popular for insights into Tosfos comments. I must have handled it a hundred times without giving a glance at the introduction.
 Coincidentally, the latest issue of Vayisyaldu, a Hebrew language e-zine dedicated to rabbinical genealogy, authored by a Rabbi Wettstein, is devoted to the Charlap family and its illustrious history. There too he finds that the first mention of ancestry traced back to King David is in a journal article in 1890 issue of Knesset Hagedolah (Warsaw). He also notes with surprise that (just as we questioned the phenomenon that the elders of the Horowitz family wrote about their lineage but did not mention the Spanish connection) the elders of the Charlap /Don Yichya/ Ibn Yichya family did not mention their Davidic descent. Only their descendants knew of their illustrious ancestry. Rabbi Gedalya Ibn Yechya 1526-1588 wrote a family history and says nothing about it.