Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ephraim Zvi Barzel: A Wandering Jew

Knockbride Church near to Rooskey Knockbride a place of Bloomer settlement in Ireland

Ephraim Zvi Barzel was born in Imperial Czarist Russia in 1798 in the reign of Czar Paul I of All the Russias. He was circumcised on the 8th day and belonged to a strange religious group of Jews called Frankists (Catholic Jews). Ephraim Zvi Barzel was also called Edward George Bloomer and he was the son of an Irish soldier who came to serve in the Russian army of the Empress Catherine II the Great of Russia. Ephraim's father John Alexander Bloomer was an American -born Irish-raised soldier who came to serve with the Irish Earls O'Rourke (Orurk) who were based in Tartu in Estonia. He was to serve under Major General Earl Cornelius Orurk and later in the fight against Napoleon in 1812 with Earl Joseph Orurk.

Ephraim's mother was Miriam Reizel (Anglicised to Mary Rose) and she was the daughter of Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Zalman Leib. The acronym of his name is Reizel (which means rose). Rabbi Reizel was a secret Frankist Rabbi and believed to be a son of Jacob Frank himself.  Rabbi Reizel was also involved with the Hasidic movement and went to Palestine in 1777 with Rabbi Avraham Kalisker. 

Ephraim was trained by his grandfather in the mysteries of the Zohar and the rituals of Judaism. They were also influenced by the teachings of Hasidic Judaism.

The Russian Irish nobility recognised Ephraim's father John Alexander Bloomer as the Jacobite de jure 9th Earl of Stirling a title his father James Alexander Bloomer had inherited in 1783 on the death of General William Alexander the 7th Earl of Stirling. Even though many leading Scottish nobles and notables recognised William Alexander as the 7th Earl of Stirling the British authorities ruled against this recognition. However he was always referred to as Lord Stirling during his lifetime.

Around 1815 Ephraim's family decided to return to their relatives in Cavan Ireland. They were to settle in the Knockbride area in the townland called Rooskey or Ruski named due to the family's sojourn in Russia. They were accompanied by Earl Bernard Orurk of Russia [a son of Earl Patrick Orurk (O'Rourke)]. After Earl Bernard's death his widow Henrietta Orurk (nee Smith) would marry Ephraim's brother George (Gershon). 

File:O'Rourke Joseph Cornelius.jpg
Earl Joseph Orurk a Russian Irish officer and Frankist

Ephraim however remained in Russia as a soldier serving Earl Joseph O'Rourke until 1818 when he married  Countess Henrietta Orurk a daughter of Earl Joseph. After their marriage they also went to Ireland where their first son Edward was born in 1819. They had a number of children and Henrietta died after the birth of a son James (Yacov) in 1826. Earl Joseph Orurk in 1819 bought a huge estate in Belarus (Minsk region) and retired there in order to spend time in the study of Jewish and Catholic mysticism according to the teachings of the Zoharists (Frankists).

Their second son Joseph Bloomer (Yosef Barzel) was born in 1820. He later in life suffered a serious illness and he then took the additional name of Baruch. He married his cousin Rachel (Reizel) Barzel (Rachel Bloomer) the daughter of Joseph Bloomer (Barzel) (b.1784) and his wife Dinah Rachel Reizel the daughter of Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Zalman Leib (Reizel). He settled permanently in Palestine and is the maternal grandfather of the famous Breslov Rabbi Yisroel Ber Odesser (Saba Yisroel). 

Ephraim then remarried in a Church of Ireland ceremony to Elizabeth Fox (of a crypto Jewish family) in 1827. After this second marriage he moved with many of his Barzel relatives in Russia to Palestine where a number of his children were born in Tiberias in the Galilee taking the surname Barzel. His first wife Countess Henrietta Orurk's mother held the titular title of Princess of Galilee and Countess of Bethlehem. Around 1837 after the Earthquake he left Palestine for England where his son George Barzel (Bloomer) was born in 1841 and daughters Miriam (Mary) and Susanna (Shoshana) in 1837 and 1838.  Ephraim and Elizabeth (Elisheva) left their young children with relatives in Palestine. His brother Chaim Barzel as Christopher Bloomer settled in Manchester. Ephraim attended and assisted the Rev. H.S. Joseph a Hebrew Christian Anglican priest from Liverpool when he visited Manchester.

In the 1840's Ephraim reverted to the name Edward Bloomer and settled in Shercock in Cavan where he remained as a leading citizen and landowner until his death in 1869. He remained a supporter of the London Jews Society in the Church of Ireland. Ephraim (aka Edward) had in Palestine gone back to the full practice of Orthodox Judaism with his family. However after the shock of the earthquake in 1837 Ephraim and his wife had a religious conversion back to Jesus. This caused problems with other members of their family and in fear of their lives they left their children who were too young to travel and fled Palestine.  Ephraim's 18 year old son Edward by his first wife left with some of his brothers with them. However his 17 year old son Joseph chose to stay in Palestine. 

His 13 year old daughter Bella (Isabella) would later move to Russia where she would marry Rabbi Aharon Alexander Brody (Broide) who had been a ward of the Czar himself and a male line descendant (grandson) of the Alter Rebbe's Catholic son Moshe ben Zalman (aka Reb Moshe of Sh'klov) and also a descendant (great-grandson) of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.  They dropped the Brody from their name and used Alexander as their surname. They were prominent among the secret Frankists who remained within the Jewish community in Zhitomir. Bella's daughters Bluma and Anna Alexander married into the Finestein (Finestone) family. Bluma's descendants became prominent in Jewish-Christian evangelisation. Anna's family settled near Manchester (Prestwich and Cheetham Hills) in England where there was a strong Jewish community. The name Julius (Yuliy in Russian) in the Finestone family was in honour of Reb Moshe's name [Leon] Yulievitch.

Beside Baruch Yosef Barzel from his first wife another three of Ephraim Zvi Barzel's sons by his second wife stayed in Palestine and were called Abraham, Chaim and Meir Barzel. Meir was the father of Efraim Zvi Hirsh Barzel who married his cousin Chana Maschoieff whose mother was Raizel Barzel (b.1847) a daughter of Chaim (b.1828) and Feige Barzel. Raizel had an older brother Zayde Barzel (b.1844). Raizel and Zayde also had two brothers Shimon and Efraim Barzel.