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Katz is a common German surname. It is also one of the oldest and most common Ashkenazi Jewish surnames.
Germans with the last name Katz may originate in the Rhine River region of Germany, where the Katz Castle is located. (The name of the castle does not derive from Katze, cat, but from Katzenelnbogen, going back to Latin Cattimelibocus, consisting of the ancient Germanic tribal name of the Chatti and Melibokus.)
Katzman, deriving from the German Katz, is a Slavic name meaning high priest or king. It is believed the Katzman surname originates from Germany and has roots from there as well.
As a Jewish surname, Katz is an abbreviation formed from the Hebrew initials of the term Kohen Tzedeq (כּ״ץ), meaning "priest of justice"/"authentic priest" or Kohen Tzadok meaning the name-bearer is of patrilineal descent of the Kohanim sons of Zadok. It has been used since the seventeenth century, or perhaps somewhat earlier, as an epithet of the descendants of Aaron. The collocation is most likely derived from Melchizedek ("king of righteousness"), who is called the priest ("kohen") of the most high God (Genesis xiv. 18), or perhaps from Psalm cxxxii. 9: Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness ("tzedeq"). The use of the abbreviated and Germanicized "Katz" likely coincided with the imposition of German names on Jews in Germany in the 18th or 19th centuries.
If the reading is correct, this abbreviation occurs on a tombstone, dated 1536, in the cemetery of Prague (Hock, Die Familien Prag's, p. 175); it is found also on a tombstone of the year 1618 in Frankfurt (M. Horowitz (Moses Horowitz?), Die Inschriften des Alten Friedhofes der Israelitischen Gemeinde zu Frankfurt-am-Main 1901, p. 63), in the books of the Soncino family of Prague of the seventeenth century (Zunz, Z.G. p. 262), and in one of the prefaces to Shabbethai ben Meïr ha-Kohen's notes on the Choshen Mishpat (Amsterdam, 1663).
The name Katz has a website devoted to All Things Katz.
People surnamed Katz include:
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gotthard Deutsch (1901–1906). "Katz". Jewish Encyclopedia. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=152&letter=K.
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