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WEISZ Origin of surname


Surnames derive from one of many different origins. Sometimes there may be more than one explanation for the same name.

Weisz is a Polish variant of Weiss, which means "white" in German. In some cases, Weiss was originally a personal nickname, referred to persons with white hair, beard or skin. In some cases Weiss is a toponymic (derived from a geographic name of a town, city, region or country). Surnames that are based on place names do not always testify to direct origin from that place, but may indicate an indirect relation between the name-bearer or his ancestors and the place, such as birth place, temporary residence, trade, or family-relatives. This surname is associated with towns and cities in Central and Eastern European countries, among them Weissenburg in Bavaria, south western Germany, Weissenburg/Wissembourg in Alsace, eastern France; Weisweil in Baden, Germany; Stuhlweissenburg/Szekesfehervar in west central Hungary; and Weissenburg/Alba Iulia in Transylvania, central Romania.

Some variants, like Weissbecker (literally "white baker" in German), are names deriving from certain trades and occupations.

Weiss is recorded as a Jewish family name in 1197 in Wuerzburg, Germany, with Samuel Weiss, also known as Albus, the Latin for the "white" one. Weisswasser is documented in 1678; Weissweiler in 1687; Weisskopf in 1690; Weisweiler in 1700; Weisel and Weiselitz in 1711; Weissweiller in 1743; Weissburg in the 18th century; Weis and Weissenburger in 1808; Weiskopf in 1891; and Waiskof in 1954.

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Weiss include the Moravian-born Hebrew poet, scholar and writer on the history of oral law Isaac Hirsch Weiss (1815- 1905); the 20th century Polish-born American congressman and judge Arthur Samuel Weiss; the 20th century Czech-born American Talmud scholar and educator David Weiss, also known as Ha-Livni ("the white" in Hebrew); and the Hungarian born American magician Erich Weiss (1847-1926), very well known by the name Harry Houdini. In the 20th century Weiss is recorded as a Jewish family name with the Weiss family, who lived in the town of Zhadowa near Chernowitz, north Bukovina (now Ukraine), prior to World War II (1939-1945).

Distinguished bearers of the Jewish family name Weisz include the 19th century member of the Hungarian parliament Berthold Weisz; the German-born British cartoonist Victor Weisz (1913-1966), who became famous as Vicky; and the 20th century Czech-born Venezuelan industrialist Dezider Weisz.
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Varnai, Zseni (1890-1981), poetess, born as Eugenia Weisz in Nagyvazsony, Hungary (then part of Austrai-Hungary). She married the poet Peterdi Andor, and became known through a volume, “Katonafiamnak” ("To My Son, the Soldier"), published in 1912. Motherhood remained the primary theme of the volumes “Gracchusok Anyja” ("Mother of the Gracchi"; 1916) and “Anyasziv” ("A Mother's Heart"; 1917). Her thoughts, during those years, were greatly influenced by socialism, which opposed war. In 1918 her poem, "Ne lojj fiam, mert en is ott leszek!" ("Don't Shoot My Son, as I Too, Shall Be There"), a mother's appeal to her soldier son to disobey the order to fire upon civilians, became popular among the war-weary and discontented. She voiced her enthusiasm for the revolution in the volume “Voros Tavasz” ("Red Spring"; 1919).

In later years her tone became more reflective, and she concerned herself with the more subtle problems of the mother-son relationship. Her volumes “Im, itt az iras” ("This is the Scripture"; 1928); “Korus szopranban” ("Soprano Choir"; 1931); “Most szuletik a beke” ("Now Peace is coming to the World"; 1945-49); “Feltamadas” ("Resurrection"; 1959); “Egy harcos asszony irasai” ("Scripts of a Fighting Woman"; 1973) and many more made Varnai one of the most well-respected Hungarian poets. She won many literary prizes.

Varnai also wrote prose “Feny a viharban” ("Light in the Storm"; 1958); “Nem volt hiaba” ("It Was Not in Vain"; 1962) and “Egy asszony a milliok kozul” ("A Woman out of Millions"; 1974), all of which are based on autobiographical elements.
Weisz, Fulop (1859-1942), economist, born in Budapest, Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). He studied in Dresden, Germany.

From 1889 he was director, and from 1921, president of the Hungarian Commercial Bank of Pest, the leading bank of Hungary. In that capacity he controlled several other banks as well as industrial and commercial companies. He was a general councilor of the Hungarian National Bank from its inception. He was also appointed a member of the Hungarian Upper House.

Weisz was born of Jewish parents, but converted to Christianity. Despite his convedrtion, Weisz was forced to resign his positions following the introduction of the anti-Jewish legislation by Hungary in 1938. Weisz died while in exile in Switzerland.
Weisz, Max (Miksa) (1872-1931), rabbi and scholar, born in Budapest, Hungary (then part of Austria-Hungary). He was educated at the Protestant Gymnasium and at the rabbinical seminary of Budapest.

Weisz taught, together with Wilhelm Bacher, at the Talmud Torah of the Jewish community of Pest. He then headed the department for Jewish religious instruction in Budapest.

Weisz received his rabbinic ordination at the Landesrabbinerschule. A pupil of David Kaufmann, he did research into Jewish history, history of civilization, and literature. When the Kaufmann Library became the property of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Weisz was named its archivist, and he catalogued the books and manuscripts of the library. He was custodian of the libraries of Wilhelm Bacher and Samuel Kohn.

Weisz taught at the rabbinical seminary of Budapest as successor to Wilhelm Bacher. He later succeeded Lajos Venetianer at the institute, teaching practical ministry, the doctrines of Judaism and the Hebrew language. He was district rabbi of the Jewish community of Pest from 1909 until his death, and vice-president of the national rabbinical association of Hungary.

Weisz was co-editor of “Magyar Szemle and Ha-tzofe”, Hungarian and Hebrew periodicals of the science of Judaism. His articles and essays appeared in the scholarly reviews of several other countries. His published works include: “Etika a talmudban” ("Ethics in the Talmud"; with S. Hevesi and L. Blau; 1920); “Zsido etika” ("Jewish Ethics"; 1923); “Geniza Fragmente der Bibilothek D. Kaufmann s.A. im Besitze der ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften”, I. (1924); “Katalog der hebraaischen Handschriften und buecher in der Bibliothek des Prof. Dr. D. Kaufmann” (1906); and edited from this collection, the ritual book “Seder Troyes” by Menahem ben Joseph (in “Sefer Yovel … Moses Aryeh Bloch” (1905), 97-137. Heb. pt., and in the same year also separately), and an Italian-Jewish “minhag” book from the 13th century (in “Ha-Zofeh, le-Hokhmat Yisrael”, 13 (1929), 217-45). As a result of his studies of the Kaufmann genizah, he published letters he had discovered, the liturgics compositions of a paytan he called Samuel (“Seridim me-ha-Genizah”, 1924), geonic texts (in: “Ve-Zot li-Yhudah… li-Khevod…Yehuda Aryeh Blau” (1926), 159-63, and “Festschrift der… Landesrabbinerschule” (Heb. pt., (1927), 77-97). He also wrote: “Kozepkori zsido etikusok” ("Jewish Ethics of the Middle Ages", 1929) “Bibliographie der Schriften M. Kayserkings” (1929); and “Minhag Tob” (1930).

Joseph Meir Weiss (Weisz) (aka Imrei Yosef) (1838-1909), Hassidic leader, founder of the Spinka Hassidic dynasty, born in Mukachevo (Munkacs in Hungarian), Ukraine (then part of the Austrian Empire). Weiss was the disciple of Shalom of Belz, Menachem Mendel Hager of Vizhnitz, Isaac Eizik of Ziditshov (Zhidachov), and Hayyim Halberstam of Sanz. On many occasions he visited Isaac of Ziditshov and regarded himself as his successor. Renowned for his ecstatic prayers, he also practiced extreme self-mortification. From 1876 he was revered as a zaddik by thousands of followers. He settled in Spinka (Sapanta, Romania) in the Maramures region.

His works include Imrei Joseph (1910-27), a commentary on the Torah in four volumes, Imrei Joseph (1931), sermons on the festivals and other customs; Hakdamat Likutei Torah ve-ha-Shas (1911), sermons and an anthology of Hassidic teaching; Perush le-Haggadah shel  Pesah (1964); and Tefilot  u-Minhagim  (1912) - a collection of prayers and customs.

His remains were reinterred in Petach Tikva, Israel, in 1972