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Jul 3, 2007

I wonder if I am a kohein

Today is the 17th of Tammuz. Today is a fast day commemorating some calamitous events in our collective history.

The events include; the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem in the Second Temple by the Romans (led by Titus the General), in the First Temple this was the day the Kohanim stopped offering the daily sacrifice of the Tamid due to a shortage of sheep because of the siege around Jerusalem, in the First Temple this is the day Menashe placed an idol on the Temple Court and in the Second Temple this is the day Apostumos (another Roman general) placed an idol in the Temple Court along with publicly burning a Torah scroll, the first set of tablets were broken on this day when Moshe came down from Mt. Sinai and saw the people reveling around the Golden Calf, along with other later events attributed to this day..

Being that the events surrounding the day, and the period of the Three Weeks which begin today concluding with the 9th of Av which was the actual destruction of the Temples, are Temple related, I felt it appropriate to mention an upcoming event.

In mid-July there will be, what promises to be, a fascinating conference.

You remember reading in the news a few years ago about how they discovered a DNA type that is specific to kohanim and levvim? They would swipe the inside of the cheek, get a DNA sample to test, and then find out whether or not you were really a member of the kohanic or levite tribe (I do not know if there is any halachic reliance on such a test).. It was big news at the time.

Anyway, those guys have taken it a step further. They formed an organization called the the Cohen-Levi Family Heritage. Their goal is to "promote identity and knowledge among kohanim the world over".

If you check out their website, there is a ton of fascinating information abot kohanim, their history, what their jobs were, etc.

Now they have put together the first ever Kohen - Levi conference which will take place in Jerusalem (makes sense) in mid-July.

Aside from what looks to be like a great lineup of lectures, presentations and workshops (hmmm I wonder what a workshop includes - will they practice offering sacrifices?), they also have a full schedule of interesting tours around historical sites relevant to the Temples and the kohanim/leviim.

I think the conference is even free (see the website and call the contact information for exact details of what prices are and what is or is not included), though you can be a sponsor if you so desire.

I wonder if they will be offering DNA swabs for attendees. Maybe I am really a kohen!


  1. B"H There are those of us who do not hold to what some refer to as the "3 Weeks." I couple of years ago, I saw a rather thick book of Hilchos 3 Shavu'os been sold at a Me'ah Sha'arim bookstore. I just rolled my eyes.

  2. you can't "not hold of the three weeks". the "three weeks" is just a time period book-ended by 17 tammuz on one side and 9 av on the other side. The minhagim kept during that time period are different as per different communities (most common difference is between ashkenazim and sefardim, but other people might keep various levels of minhagim). That is probably what you meant about not keeping them..

    BTW, during the 9 days, or even the week of 9 av, you also do not keep the standard minhagim?

  3. B"H There are those of us who do not hold to what some refer to as "Shabbat." I couple of years ago, I saw a rather thick book of Hilchos Shabbat being sold at a Me'ah Sha'arim bookstore. I just rolled my eyes.

    Maybe ben-yehudah and I should start a club.

  4. I'm waiting for the King David Genetic Geneology Test.

  5. what if someone, who for generations -traceable - has always held they are a kohen, and the test says no. what would the psak about that person be?

  6. shaya g hat gesagt...
    what if someone, who for generations -traceable - has always held they are a kohen, and the test says no. what would the psak about that person be?

    July 03, 2007 7:41 PM

    Shaya give them some cholent and if they refuse to eat it, the whole deal is settled, they are not Jewish so you don't need to deal about the Kohen part. lol.

  7. shaya - I have no ide. I remember that after 9/11 the Rabbonim did rely on DNA in certain situations to declare the death of a person so as to allow a woman to marry. I am not sure when DNA is halachically used and when not.

    rebel - a sfardi who speaks yiddish? your solution sounds great!

  8. dream on, rafi.

  9. rebel - du hast gezagt zair geet!!!!

    cute - either cholent or schav.

  10. Nowdays it goes by mesorah.. there are very few cohanim with a yichus paper but they do exist.

    Ben-Yehuda highlights the collective problem facing us jews and those that do away with "minhagim" I think progresive jews as these are our biggest danger.

    Lets see, first there was kaparot with a chicken, then kitniyot, now the 3 weeks and what else do I not know about..?

    Minhag yisrael torah hu! ko klap yourself a kup, if you want a easy way out then fine.. but dont dray me around with your heterim.

    By the way.. according to HALACHA and b'doreisa you need to toivel in the mikva perhaps even daily...

    Who besides chasidim toivel every day?

  11. Rafi G,

    I can speak a bit of Yiddish and read it too. I guess I am a minority, since some people wanted to "ashkenize" me when I made tshuva. I got nothing but love for the Ashkenazim but I am Sephardic.

  12. B"H

    Yeah, Rafi, 17 of the 4th Month - 9 of the Fifth month is, indeed, a 3-wk. period of time.

    See Mishnah Torah, Hil. Ta'aniyoth p' 5

    I don't see any "3 wks. mentioned." Do you?

    I defy you and anyone else to show me that the "3 wks." concept was ever observed in Eress Yisrael, save for any za'aqah, tzamim, and tefillah during the the 2 destructions.

    It is not, and has never been a minhag Eress Yisrael to observe any kind of aveluth during this time period, of which I am aware.

    Even the nine days were a humrah in the event that the "shavu'a she hal bo" [9 b'Av] did not exist in a given year.

    The whole 3 wks. thing came much later.

  13. Who cares when and how it started ? its a minhag yisrael.

    As for minhagei eretz yisrael.. dont get me started... there is a whole sefer (dont roll your eyes) called "anshei yershalayim hayu nohagim"

    Thats the problem with progresive jews, you pick and choose what you want to keep..

  14. What about rabeinu tam tefillin? how about tikun chatzot ? how about the "eretz yisrael levush" you throw rocks at avshalom's kever ?

    Theres another 50,000 minhagei eretz yisrael and halachot..

  15. B"H Elchonon: I'm not talking about what is a minhag,...yet. I'm talking about what isn't.

    I believe you were saying that the "3 wks." is A minhag Yisrael, not for kol yisrael. Right? 'Cause it's not.

    E-mail (on my blog) me privately to continue this. If this is Elchonon H., then you know me from the I-net Shtiebel and through Fauci. Remember?

  16. You are not a Kohein.

    The Dweks from Aleppo, Syria, are the only family of the true Cohanim.

    We are the only true descendants of Aharon HaCohen, the Cohen HaGadol.

    And, we are the only true descendants of Pinhas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaCohen.

    It was the great act of Pinhas, who stopped the plague in Am Yisrael, when he struck the spear into Cozbi and Zimri. 24,000 died in a plague from the sins of idolatry and immorality with the Midianite women.

  17. I know I am not a kohein, but I have no idea how you can be so bold as to say there is only one family of real kohanim. and that the name is dweck. What does Dweck have to do with Pinchas? Did Elazar and Itamar not have children to continue the kohanic line aside from Pinchas?

    Is the Allepo Dweck family you claim to be the only one with lineage the same as the Syrian Dweck's from Deal New Jersey?

    What about the Rapaport family that are known to have traced lineage directly back to aharon HaKohen? do you dispute the truth of their claim?

  18. Hey, billy Dwek,

    I love you. Could you bring me a rabbi that signs your declaration that no-one but the dweks are true kohanim?

    I am in love with a kohen, but I cannot marry a kohen. So if you could substantiate your claim so that ashkenazy rabbanim accept it, it would be of immense help to me...


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