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MARCUS Origin of surname

MARCUS

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name derives from a Gentile or vernacular personal name.

Many Jewish personal and family names have their origin in the Roman name Marcus. Marcus, which in Latin means "belonging to Mars" (the Roman god of war), became widespread among Jews following the Roman conquest of the Near East, particularly in the talmudic period (the first five centuries of the Common Era). A very early example is that of Markah. According to Jewish legend, it has the same numerical value as the Hebrew Moshe (in English, Moses), which no other human being was allowed to bear. But actually, it is an Aramaized form of the Latin name Marcus. Markah was the name of a well-known 4th century Samaritan poet, venerated as the "fountain of wisdom", who wrote in Aramaic. According to one expert, this name, as exemplified by some of its variants, could also come from the Hebrew Mar Kushi ("dark gentleman/Mr. Black"). In the Diaspora, Marcus and its different forms were frequently used as 'kinnui'm ("secular names") for the Hebrew Moses, Mordechai, Manasse and Menachem, later becoming the basis for family names. The abbreviated French variant Marc is documented in the 13th century in Paris (France); the original Marcus in 16th century Morocco. The 17th century records Marculis in Prague (Bohemia), Markwitz in both Poland and Germany, and the Italian diminutive Marcello. In Eastern Europe, the root syllable was combined with Slavic patronymic suffixes (indicating descent in the male line) "-ov"/"-itz"/"-ich"/"-ici" and others; in Germany it formed variants such as Markhoff (which could be a Germanized Russian patronymic); Markwald and Markheim (belonging to the toponymic category of family names appearing to derive from place names); in France it became Marcel and in Romania Marcu. Other variations, which do not always correspond to the countries in which they are found, range from Marks/Marx to Marcous/Markusz; Marcus Marcus/Markus is also an acronym (a name created from the initial letters of a Hebrew phrase, and which refers to a relative, lineage or occupation) of the Hebrew 'Morenu Rabbenu Kadosh Ve Zakkai', that is "our holy teacher and Rabbi Zakkai". In Eastern Europe, the root syllable was combined with Slavic patronymic suffixes (indicating descent in the male line) -ov/itz/ich/ici and others; in Germany it formed variants such as Markhoff (which could be a Germanized Russian patronymic); Markwald and Markheim (belonging to the category of family names appearing to derive from place names); in France it became Marcel and in Romania Marcu. Other variations, which do not always correspond to the countries in which they are found, range from Marks/Marx to Marcous/Markusz.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Marcus include the German inventor, Siegfried Marcus (1831-1898); the German scholar, writer on kabbalah and hassidism, Aaron Marcus (1843-1916); and David Daniel Marcus (1902-1948), U.S. soldier and commander of the Jewish troops on the Jerusalem front in the Israel War of Independence.
ID Number:
136616
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Marius Mircu (born Israel Marcus) (1909-2008), journalist, writer, and historian, born in Bacau, Romania. He attended high school in Bacău and Law School of the University of Bucharest graduating in 1936. He started his journalistic career at Gazeta. During the years of the Fascist regime in Romania, Mircu served as president of the Association of Young Jewish Writers and Artists in Romania. He joined the Communist party while it was still a small illegal organization and continued to work in the party apparatus until it he was marginalized. 

After the Holocaust, he was the first journalist to write about the persecution of the Jews of Romania, particularly about the Pogrom of Dorohoi in July 1940, The Pogrom of Iasi in June 1941, and the ghettos and the concentration camps in Transnistria. Mircu was in charge of the archive-documentation department of the Jewish Community of Bucharest and then of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania (FCER) from 1942 to 1987 and was the first director of the Museum of Jewish History from 1982 to 1987.

He immigrated to Israel in 1987 and continued his journalistic activity at Kol Israel (Israeli radio) as presenter of a series of over 200 episodes focused on the history of the Jewish press in Romania as well as a prolific contributor to the Romanian-language press in Israel.

Mircu wrote more than forty books including 24 de ore în jurul lumii (“24 hours around the world”, 1932), Văzduhul ne cheamă (“The Air Calls Us”, 1934), N-am descoperit America! (“I didn't discover America!”, 1937), Amintirile unei student (“Memories of a student”, 1940), Pogromurile din Bucovina și Dorohoi (“The pogroms in Bucovina and Dorohoi”’, 1945), Peste cincizeci de ani (“In Fifty Year Time”, 1967), Croitorul din Back (“The Tailor of Back”, 1979), M-am născut reporter (“I was born a reporter”, 1987), Din nou șapte momente - din istoria evreilor în România: Oameni de omenie, în vremuri de neomenie (“Again seven moments - from the history of the Jews in Romania: People of humanity, in times of inhumanity”, 1987), Treizeci și șase de stâlpi ai lumii (“Thirty-six Pillars of the World”, 1994).

Mircu was awarded the Prize for Children’s Literature in 1951 and the Sion Special Prize for his entire literary and publishing activity in 2002.

Rietavas

A small town in the district of Memel (Klaipeda), Lithuania

Rietavas is situated between the Port of Memel and the town of Telsiai in the Zemaitija region (meaning "low country"), which is rich in marshland and lakes. The small town was founded on the banks of the river Jura, which flows into the Niemen river, an important waterway used mainly for transporting timber to Germany by rafts. Trading in flax and its seeds from which oil is extracted also developed in Rietavas.

In the past the small town belonged to a Polish nobleman, Oginski, who put in paved streets and electricity, but he abused the Jewish community and destroyed the synagogue. After the First World War, when Lithuania became independent, his heir, Count Zalucki, returned the land to the Jews ans his palace was turned into an agricultural school.

It is not known when Jews first settled in Ritova, although a community apparently existed there for several centuries. The community is mentioned in the records of the Council of the Land of Lithuania, an active body from the mid-16th century until 1764, as a gathering place for the communities of the region.

The Ritova synagogue ("Die Shul") was a specially designed wooden building visited by emissaries from yeshivot and from Zionist institutions. There exsisted also a beth midrash and a yeshiva, attended by numerous students from Ritova and the region.

Rabbi Abraham Ahron Burstein lived in the town at the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century he founded a yeshiva near Moscow. He later became a supporter of political Zionist and immigrated to Eretz Israel where he was appointed rosh metivta of Rabbi Kook's yeshiva Merkas Harav in Jerusalem. Rabbi Baruch Marcus ben Rabbi Mayer, a native of Ritova, immigrated to Eretz Israel at the beginning of the 20th century and became Chief Rabbi of Haifa. Rabbi Shlomo Ahron Zalmanowitz, who later became Chief Rabbi of Montreal, was known in his youth as the Matmid of Ritova. He studied together with Chaim Nachman Bialik at the Wolodzin yeshiva, and it is said that he was the source of inspiration for the latter's poem Hamatmid.

Professor Gezl Zelikowits a world known expert of Semitic languages and Egyptology, a novelist, poet and journalist, was born in Ritova and known there as a prodigy of the yeshiva.

Rabbi Izchak Eliahu Gefen was the town's rabbi at the beginning of the 20th century. The last rabbi of Ritova, Rabbi Shmuel Fondiler, took an active part in the life of the community and in shaping its institutions.

The town had a modern heder, where secular subjects were also taught, and a Hebrew school which the teacher Jacob Levitan from Copenhagen founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The textbooks were prepared by the school's teachers and printed in the town by Shimon Verkol. The Hebrew school ceased to exist during the First World War. In 1919 the educator and teacher Alter Levite founded a new Hebrew school in the town. There was also a public library which had thousands of books.

The community had its cemetery, hevra kadisha (burial society) and charitable and mutual assistance institutions, such as Linat Tzedek and Bikur Holim.

The Jews of Ritova were grocers and haberdashers, and traded plasterers, blacksmiths, tailors and shoemakers.

Difficulties in earning a living and the lack of future prospects caused young people to emigrate to various countries overseas, mainly to South Africa. Later on they helped their families who had stayed behind.

The People's Bank was founded in the early twenties. It was affiliated to the Central Jewish People's Banking Association of Lithuania with headquarters in Kovno, under the management of Zalman Abilov.

The Kovno and Suwalki regional Zionist conference in 1909 was attended by a delegate from Ritova, Rabbi Eliezer Pressman who headed a Zionist group of yeshiva students and received assistance from the Zionists in Kovno.

Many Jews in the small town spoke Hebrew, they organized lectures on Eretz Israel. There were also parties were money was collected on behalf of the Keren Kayemet and Keren Hayesod.

Hashomer Hatzair held Hebrew language courses and carried out cultural activities for the youth. Zvi Singer run the Maccabi sport organization of the town, with the support of Count Zalucki.

Licht, the first Ritova Oleh in Jerusalem in the 19th century; and Gabriel Grad, the musician, who arrived in 1924 and continued his work as a composer. He was a music teacher in Ritova, where he conducted the choir and played in the local orchestra.

Avraham Falkust was a Ritova artist, who died there at an early age; his paintings, depicting the fate of Jews in the diaspora, were exhibited in Israel.

250 Jewish families lived in Rietavas when world war two broke out. They constituted the majority of the population of the small town.


The Holocaust Period

On June 22, 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Germans entered Rietavas. They formed groups of Lithuanians who attacked and killed Jews. The town's rabbi, Rabbi Fondiler, was tortured and put to death. The synagogue and many Jewish homes in the small town were burned.

On June 27 all the Jews of Ritova were taken to the Gerol estate near Telsiai, where Jews from Telsiai and the neighboring towns had already been herded together by the Germans following an "aktion" in the area.

In July 1941 the Germans rounded up Jewish men from Ritova and the nearby towns and subjected them to brutal torture, eventually shooting them. Five camps for women were located in the Telsiai region and the women from Ritova and the vicinity were sent there. Younger women were taken to labor camps and the older and weaker women transported to a ghetto near Telsiai and murdered there.

Up to August 30 all women still alive in the work camps were killed. By the end of 1941 the Germans had wiped out the Gerol ghetto altogether.

The few Jews who survived the war immigrated to Israel. Six of the former Jewish community of Ritova gave their lives in the wars of Israel.

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MARCUS Origin of surname
MARCUS

Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name. This family name derives from a Gentile or vernacular personal name.

Many Jewish personal and family names have their origin in the Roman name Marcus. Marcus, which in Latin means "belonging to Mars" (the Roman god of war), became widespread among Jews following the Roman conquest of the Near East, particularly in the talmudic period (the first five centuries of the Common Era). A very early example is that of Markah. According to Jewish legend, it has the same numerical value as the Hebrew Moshe (in English, Moses), which no other human being was allowed to bear. But actually, it is an Aramaized form of the Latin name Marcus. Markah was the name of a well-known 4th century Samaritan poet, venerated as the "fountain of wisdom", who wrote in Aramaic. According to one expert, this name, as exemplified by some of its variants, could also come from the Hebrew Mar Kushi ("dark gentleman/Mr. Black"). In the Diaspora, Marcus and its different forms were frequently used as 'kinnui'm ("secular names") for the Hebrew Moses, Mordechai, Manasse and Menachem, later becoming the basis for family names. The abbreviated French variant Marc is documented in the 13th century in Paris (France); the original Marcus in 16th century Morocco. The 17th century records Marculis in Prague (Bohemia), Markwitz in both Poland and Germany, and the Italian diminutive Marcello. In Eastern Europe, the root syllable was combined with Slavic patronymic suffixes (indicating descent in the male line) "-ov"/"-itz"/"-ich"/"-ici" and others; in Germany it formed variants such as Markhoff (which could be a Germanized Russian patronymic); Markwald and Markheim (belonging to the toponymic category of family names appearing to derive from place names); in France it became Marcel and in Romania Marcu. Other variations, which do not always correspond to the countries in which they are found, range from Marks/Marx to Marcous/Markusz; Marcus Marcus/Markus is also an acronym (a name created from the initial letters of a Hebrew phrase, and which refers to a relative, lineage or occupation) of the Hebrew 'Morenu Rabbenu Kadosh Ve Zakkai', that is "our holy teacher and Rabbi Zakkai". In Eastern Europe, the root syllable was combined with Slavic patronymic suffixes (indicating descent in the male line) -ov/itz/ich/ici and others; in Germany it formed variants such as Markhoff (which could be a Germanized Russian patronymic); Markwald and Markheim (belonging to the category of family names appearing to derive from place names); in France it became Marcel and in Romania Marcu. Other variations, which do not always correspond to the countries in which they are found, range from Marks/Marx to Marcous/Markusz.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Marcus include the German inventor, Siegfried Marcus (1831-1898); the German scholar, writer on kabbalah and hassidism, Aaron Marcus (1843-1916); and David Daniel Marcus (1902-1948), U.S. soldier and commander of the Jewish troops on the Jerusalem front in the Israel War of Independence.
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Rietavas

Rietavas

A small town in the district of Memel (Klaipeda), Lithuania

Rietavas is situated between the Port of Memel and the town of Telsiai in the Zemaitija region (meaning "low country"), which is rich in marshland and lakes. The small town was founded on the banks of the river Jura, which flows into the Niemen river, an important waterway used mainly for transporting timber to Germany by rafts. Trading in flax and its seeds from which oil is extracted also developed in Rietavas.

In the past the small town belonged to a Polish nobleman, Oginski, who put in paved streets and electricity, but he abused the Jewish community and destroyed the synagogue. After the First World War, when Lithuania became independent, his heir, Count Zalucki, returned the land to the Jews ans his palace was turned into an agricultural school.

It is not known when Jews first settled in Ritova, although a community apparently existed there for several centuries. The community is mentioned in the records of the Council of the Land of Lithuania, an active body from the mid-16th century until 1764, as a gathering place for the communities of the region.

The Ritova synagogue ("Die Shul") was a specially designed wooden building visited by emissaries from yeshivot and from Zionist institutions. There exsisted also a beth midrash and a yeshiva, attended by numerous students from Ritova and the region.

Rabbi Abraham Ahron Burstein lived in the town at the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century he founded a yeshiva near Moscow. He later became a supporter of political Zionist and immigrated to Eretz Israel where he was appointed rosh metivta of Rabbi Kook's yeshiva Merkas Harav in Jerusalem. Rabbi Baruch Marcus ben Rabbi Mayer, a native of Ritova, immigrated to Eretz Israel at the beginning of the 20th century and became Chief Rabbi of Haifa. Rabbi Shlomo Ahron Zalmanowitz, who later became Chief Rabbi of Montreal, was known in his youth as the Matmid of Ritova. He studied together with Chaim Nachman Bialik at the Wolodzin yeshiva, and it is said that he was the source of inspiration for the latter's poem Hamatmid.

Professor Gezl Zelikowits a world known expert of Semitic languages and Egyptology, a novelist, poet and journalist, was born in Ritova and known there as a prodigy of the yeshiva.

Rabbi Izchak Eliahu Gefen was the town's rabbi at the beginning of the 20th century. The last rabbi of Ritova, Rabbi Shmuel Fondiler, took an active part in the life of the community and in shaping its institutions.

The town had a modern heder, where secular subjects were also taught, and a Hebrew school which the teacher Jacob Levitan from Copenhagen founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The textbooks were prepared by the school's teachers and printed in the town by Shimon Verkol. The Hebrew school ceased to exist during the First World War. In 1919 the educator and teacher Alter Levite founded a new Hebrew school in the town. There was also a public library which had thousands of books.

The community had its cemetery, hevra kadisha (burial society) and charitable and mutual assistance institutions, such as Linat Tzedek and Bikur Holim.

The Jews of Ritova were grocers and haberdashers, and traded plasterers, blacksmiths, tailors and shoemakers.

Difficulties in earning a living and the lack of future prospects caused young people to emigrate to various countries overseas, mainly to South Africa. Later on they helped their families who had stayed behind.

The People's Bank was founded in the early twenties. It was affiliated to the Central Jewish People's Banking Association of Lithuania with headquarters in Kovno, under the management of Zalman Abilov.

The Kovno and Suwalki regional Zionist conference in 1909 was attended by a delegate from Ritova, Rabbi Eliezer Pressman who headed a Zionist group of yeshiva students and received assistance from the Zionists in Kovno.

Many Jews in the small town spoke Hebrew, they organized lectures on Eretz Israel. There were also parties were money was collected on behalf of the Keren Kayemet and Keren Hayesod.

Hashomer Hatzair held Hebrew language courses and carried out cultural activities for the youth. Zvi Singer run the Maccabi sport organization of the town, with the support of Count Zalucki.

Licht, the first Ritova Oleh in Jerusalem in the 19th century; and Gabriel Grad, the musician, who arrived in 1924 and continued his work as a composer. He was a music teacher in Ritova, where he conducted the choir and played in the local orchestra.

Avraham Falkust was a Ritova artist, who died there at an early age; his paintings, depicting the fate of Jews in the diaspora, were exhibited in Israel.

250 Jewish families lived in Rietavas when world war two broke out. They constituted the majority of the population of the small town.


The Holocaust Period

On June 22, 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Germans entered Rietavas. They formed groups of Lithuanians who attacked and killed Jews. The town's rabbi, Rabbi Fondiler, was tortured and put to death. The synagogue and many Jewish homes in the small town were burned.

On June 27 all the Jews of Ritova were taken to the Gerol estate near Telsiai, where Jews from Telsiai and the neighboring towns had already been herded together by the Germans following an "aktion" in the area.

In July 1941 the Germans rounded up Jewish men from Ritova and the nearby towns and subjected them to brutal torture, eventually shooting them. Five camps for women were located in the Telsiai region and the women from Ritova and the vicinity were sent there. Younger women were taken to labor camps and the older and weaker women transported to a ghetto near Telsiai and murdered there.

Up to August 30 all women still alive in the work camps were killed. By the end of 1941 the Germans had wiped out the Gerol ghetto altogether.

The few Jews who survived the war immigrated to Israel. Six of the former Jewish community of Ritova gave their lives in the wars of Israel.

Marius Mircu

Marius Mircu (born Israel Marcus) (1909-2008), journalist, writer, and historian, born in Bacau, Romania. He attended high school in Bacău and Law School of the University of Bucharest graduating in 1936. He started his journalistic career at Gazeta. During the years of the Fascist regime in Romania, Mircu served as president of the Association of Young Jewish Writers and Artists in Romania. He joined the Communist party while it was still a small illegal organization and continued to work in the party apparatus until it he was marginalized. 

After the Holocaust, he was the first journalist to write about the persecution of the Jews of Romania, particularly about the Pogrom of Dorohoi in July 1940, The Pogrom of Iasi in June 1941, and the ghettos and the concentration camps in Transnistria. Mircu was in charge of the archive-documentation department of the Jewish Community of Bucharest and then of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania (FCER) from 1942 to 1987 and was the first director of the Museum of Jewish History from 1982 to 1987.

He immigrated to Israel in 1987 and continued his journalistic activity at Kol Israel (Israeli radio) as presenter of a series of over 200 episodes focused on the history of the Jewish press in Romania as well as a prolific contributor to the Romanian-language press in Israel.

Mircu wrote more than forty books including 24 de ore în jurul lumii (“24 hours around the world”, 1932), Văzduhul ne cheamă (“The Air Calls Us”, 1934), N-am descoperit America! (“I didn't discover America!”, 1937), Amintirile unei student (“Memories of a student”, 1940), Pogromurile din Bucovina și Dorohoi (“The pogroms in Bucovina and Dorohoi”’, 1945), Peste cincizeci de ani (“In Fifty Year Time”, 1967), Croitorul din Back (“The Tailor of Back”, 1979), M-am născut reporter (“I was born a reporter”, 1987), Din nou șapte momente - din istoria evreilor în România: Oameni de omenie, în vremuri de neomenie (“Again seven moments - from the history of the Jews in Romania: People of humanity, in times of inhumanity”, 1987), Treizeci și șase de stâlpi ai lumii (“Thirty-six Pillars of the World”, 1994).

Mircu was awarded the Prize for Children’s Literature in 1951 and the Sion Special Prize for his entire literary and publishing activity in 2002.