The Goldenthal family tree goes back hundreds of years, and if the myths surrounding the family are true, the Goldenthals, and their larger Kahana family, descend from people who helped to shape western civilization. The last name of “Goldenthal” is rather rare with only about 300-600 people holding it around the world. The name originated when a noble and a mayor, Oswald von Goldenthal, in the mid-1800’s, without any children of his own, passed it on to one of our ancestors that he had befriended. The rest of the family adopted the name as well. Therefore, if there is a Goldenthal in the world, they are somehow all linked to us, we believe.
Prior to becoming Goldenthals, we were Kahanas, which is Aramaic for Great High Priest, and similar to Cohen in Hebrew. The eight foot long family tree, when it was kept on paper can be traced to at least the 1590’s, to a family of strict rabbis from Romania, Moldavia and Eastern Europe. The Yom Tov Kahana was a princely title passed from father to son before it became a last name. The Kahanas were Karaite Jews, which is a Jewish sect that does not accept many of the oral traditions of what has become modern Judaism. Over time, not all, but most of the Kahanas became followers, with some scholars even, of mainstream Judaism, and some branches of the Kahana family tree converted to Christianity as well. A lot of variations of the Kahana name have appeared in the diaspora as the family spread out including Kahane, Kahn, Katz, Kahaner, Ka Hana and Kahan.
We know much of our family history thanks, in large part, to Allen Goldenthal in New Zealand, who has been able to document back in time through nearly a hundred generations. Dr. Goldenthal has traveled the world researching the past, and he is in the process of writing a series of books which is starting to come to market now.
Dr. Allen Goldenthal sincerely believes that the Goldenthals and the Kahanas descend from the Tribe of Levi, from Zadok, High Priest Joshua/Yeshoshua/Jesus III, his son, High Priest Yishmael/Ishmael (15-16CE), and his grandson, High Priest Jeshua ben Gamaliel (63-64 AD), and his wife. Jeshua ben Gamaliel’s wife, Martha, herself descended from the priestly families of Seth, Annus and Boethus. Her coffin was recently found. See here. Martha is the Greek version of Miriam. The Kahanas also claimed descent from King David as many of the priests intermarried with his descendents. Right now these claims can only be called family myths, passed down over the ages. They would need to be verified through DNA tests on some of the ancient coffins (ossuaries) found in Jerusalem, but that is not currently being permitted. We do know that the family often married first cousins for many centuries, and up until the mid-1900’s, would not allow adoptions, in order to keep the family bloodlines pure.
Dr. Allen Goldenthal can also trace, the Goldenthal/Kahanas, indirectly, to the clan of Anan ben David and King Theodoric, who both lived around 760AD. Both men were descendants of Bustenai, the first exilarch/king of Babylonia after the Arab conquest. See here. While we still need to fill in about 300 years of the family tree to confirm the claims that the Goldenthals/Kahanas are related to Anan ben David and Theodoric, and to also the high priests of biblical times, already through DNA testing, the male members of the family can connect their genetic roots to the ancient priests. They carry the “priestly – Cohen” gene that many other Jewish families carry also. DNA testing by Allen Goldenthal has traced the family back to an even smaller subset of the ancient Israeli priests (Kohen gadols) who arrived in ancient Israel potentially from Egypt. You can follow more of Dr. Goldenthal’s fascinating research on his website at Legends of the Kahana…..
It is thought that many of the royal families and nobles of Europe have some form of Kahana DNA in them thanks to King Makir Theodoric of Narbonne of the Septimania Province (The Jewish King – 738-796 AD). It is thought that the Goldenthal/Kahanas descend from King Makhir Natronai Theodoric through his son, Ahunai, by his first wife from Baghdad, Ruth Kahana. Theodoric’s second wife, Alda, was from the family of Charlemagne.
The son of Theodoric and Alda was William Isaac/King Guilhelm of Septimania. This region of Septimania was renamed Languedoc a few centuries later. Many of the people of Languedoc became Cathars, probably as a part of their Jewish influence, and many, unfortunately, were burned at the stake as heretics.
The daughter of Theodoric and Alda was Princess Judith Blanche Fleur, and she married Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious, King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor. Many royal families wanted to intermarry with this family so they could claim descent from King David. Some of Louis’ and Judith’s descendants included; King Louis III of France, King Charles III of France, Louis IV of Germany, King Robert II, Eustache II, Eustache III, Margaret, Queen Consort of England, and Godefroi de Bouillon, a leader of the First Crusade. But again, it is believed, the Goldenthals descend from Theodoric’s first son, Ahunai, of Baghdad.
It is interesting that there are some claims that Theodoric descended from Alexander the Great on his maternal side. The DNA tests from Dr. Allen Goldenthal do confirm some Greek descent in them as well.
Now back to fairly modern times which we can confirm. Yaacov Kahana, considered a Prince, was the head of the Karaite Jewish community in Eastern Europe, and he died around 1589 after investigating the deaths surrounding the mystery of the Golem, associated with Rabbi Loeb, in the Jewish Quarter of Prague. Yaacov was sent, along with the son of Nostradamus, to investigate because he was a Karaite Jew who was at odds with the mainstream Judaism of Rabbi Loeb, because Karaites do not accept the Talmud. It was thought that Yaacov would be more skeptical of what was being said about the Golem. This fascinating story can be read about in Shadow of Trinity by Allen Goldenthal on Amazon.com, which is historical fiction based on some true accounts passed down over the generations.
Yaacov Kahana’s son was Yusef. His son was Aryeh Leib Kahana, whose son was Shalom Shakhna, whose son was Jacob Kahana, the Elder, and his son was Zeev Wolf. Zeev Wolf Kahana’s son was Abraham Aryeh Kahana.
Abraham Aryeh Kahana had four sons in Romania, from which, today’s Goldenthals descend; Itzhok, Joseph, Jacob and Aaron Mordecai Kahana. Itzhok is the father of Mortche-Leib which is the branch of the family that came to America and started the Independent Family Society. Joseph and Jacob Kahana perfected the making of copper beer kettles in Europe for which they won many awards. Dr. Allen Goldenthal and the Canadian Goldenthals descend from Joseph Kahana and his sons. Jacob Kahana, had a son named Joseph Leib Kahana, and he had a son named David Goldenthal whose children were Joseph, Bernard and Mary, and much of their family is in the U.S. too. Part of their family history is well documented in the book about the Jews of West Hartford, which is sold on Amazon.com. Aaron Mordecai Kahana was the progenitor of the Sighetu, Romanian Goldenthals and Kahanas, many of whom are now living in Israel. See more on this here.
Joseph Kahana’s son, listed above, Jakob/Jacob Kahana, the cousin of Mortche-Leib, was the first to receive the Goldenthal name from Oswald von Goldenthal. Jacob’s family and cousins were allowed to adopt the Goldenthal name as well. It was Jacob Kahana Goldenthal who found the letter Yusef Kahana had been given on behalf of his father, Yaacov, by the Emperor Rudolph II, which granted the family many rights and privileges as a reward for the investigation Yaacov Kahana undertook in 1588, regarding the Golem of Prague. Jacob Kahana Goldenthal used this letter to gain employment from the rulers of his day. He was a professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Vienna. He was listed in the Austrian Royal Archives as a tutor of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, but possibly, was more than that according to family rumors. Again, see Dr. Allen Goldenthal’s research. Later he was the Principal of the Jewish district of Kishinev where he argued with Max Lilienthal over the nature of Judaism, as they tried to set up a system of Jewish schools in Russia and Eastern Europe. Kishinev was an area where extreme violence, torture and murder later took place against the Jewish population. Chaim Bialik wrote his epic poem about the pogrom in Kishinev called “In the City of Slaughter” which also hints of a priestly connection to ancient Israel. Wolf Goldenthal was put on a ship by himself at age 15 and sailed to America shortly after the Kishinev pogrom, and Isaac Goldenthal, the father of Wolf and son of Mortche-Leib, was inspired to work with Herzl to fight European anti-semitism.
Jacob Kahana Goldenthal also argued, with his gift of languages, that the biblical Joseph Arimathea (House of The Lion), is another name for Joseph Caiaphas (The Lion), and that history made them into two men instead of one. While most historians are not promoting this theory, this would also make sense as many of the Karaite Jews claimed to be descendents of the Sadducees, and we know that Caiaphas’ grand-daughter, Martha, and Joseph Arimathea were listed as Sadducees.
There is a Goldenthal/Kahana “look” so to speak, as well, which we suspect runs through many people who have inherited the Kahana genes. The family has a lot of people in it who are somewhat tall, have dark hair, a broad forehead and big ears. You can see this somewhat with our historical photos, with cousin Bob Goldenthal, and obviously in Elliot Goldenthal who has the classic Goldenthal look. Look also at Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg of Germany. He descends from King Theodoric through Godfrey II and Leopold II, and he looks like a Goldenthal. Even Benjamin Netanyahu, who potentially descends from King David through Gamaliel and Rashi (1040-1105), has some of the same physical traits of being tall with a broad forehead and big ears, so these characteristics go back a long way.
Below is the branch of the family descending from Mortche-Leib and Leah Goldenthal of Romania, and specifically, from the branch descending from their son, Isaac Goldenthal. This son, Isaac, worked with Theodor Herzl to help fight European anti-semitism, and to help pave the way for the modern state of Israel. Family stories have been passed down through the years of Herzl visiting Isaac Goldenthal’s home in Europe, and at least one historical letter has been found by other family members confirming this work with Herzl.
More detailed Goldenthal/Kahana family trees are provided by Dr. Allan Goldenthal on his site, on Ancestory.com at the World Tree Project, and by the Independent Family Society in New York. I am sorry it is not more clear.