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The Kohen/Levi TribeFinder

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The Jewish People were originally divided into twelve tribes, after the twelve sons of Jacob. Only three 'tribes' are known today, those of Kohen, Levi, and Yisrael*. Tribe membership is patri-lineal, i.e., it is inherited from one's father. The majority of Jews today are members of the Yisrael tribe. Members of the Kohen tribe, descendants of Aaron, are referred to as Kohanim ('Priests'). This membership is noted in their Hebrew name which ends with the suffix of ha-Kohen ('the Kohen'). Members of the Levi tribe are referred to as Leviim or Levites. This membership is noted in their Hebrew name which ends with the suffix ha-Levi ('the Levite'). Both Kohanim and Leviim have additional biblical commandments such as duties in the Temple. Although inheritance of tribal status is patri-lineal, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, not every son of a Kohen is a Kohen, yet every father of a Kohen is a Kohen. To find out more, you may want to click here.

* There were actually thirteen tribes, since the single tribe of Joseph gave rise to the two tribes of Ephraim and Menashe. Furthermore, only Levi is a true tribe, whereas Yisrael comprises all the other tribes.  However, for practical purposes, TribeFinder will consider Kohen, Levi, and Yisrael to be the three remaining tribes.


The Kohen/Levi TribeFinder is an ambitious attempt to gather, document, and authenticate the tribal status (Kohen and Levi only) of pre-20th Century Jews, and is an important genealogy tool.  Currently, only some towns and shtetls are included in this project, but the database may ultimately be expanded to include other towns as well. TribeFinder currently has 159 records.


Thanks to Steve Blumenfrucht (USA) for the concept and background information; to Daniel Miller (Israel) for most of the technical programming; and to Julian Schamroth for the design.

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TribeFinder is not responsible for the accuracy of information contained in this database. This information is provided as a public service. The information in this database is solely for your own personal genealogical research and may not be used, without the prior written permission of TribeFinder for any other purpose including, but not limited to: solicitation of paid research; school related research projects or term papers; and interviews for purposes of publication.