1. Religion & Spirituality

Judaism's Hereditary Classes - Jewish Priests - Kohanim and Levi'im

In the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jewish priests were responsible for worship ceremonies and rituals, such as leading services, offering sacrifices, and burning incense. Learn about and Judaism's hereditary classes (caste system) - Kohanim and Levi'im - in the past and present.
What is a Kohen?
In the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, Kohanim (plural for Kohen) were priests responsible for worship ceremonies, such as leading services, offering sacrifices, burning incense and more. To maintain a high degree of purity, Kohanim observed certain prohibitions concerning marriage and contact with the deceased. Learn more about past and present Kohanim.
Priestly Blessing - Birkat Kohanim
The Priestly Blessing dates back to the inauguration of the Tabernacle (mishkan in Hebrew) over 3000 years ago. It is a remnant of the Temple service which was never lost.
Kohanim's Genetic Link and Direct Lineage from a Common Ancestor
Professor Karl Skorecki, director of Nephrology and Molecular Medicine at the Technion Faculty of Medicine, proved that the descendants of the tribe of Jewish priests, called Kohanim, can be traced back to a single male ancestor.
Orthodox FAQ: Can a Kohen visit a morgue?
According to Orthodox Judaism, why can't a Kohen enter a morgue, even to retrieve his mother's body?
Orthodox FAQ: How can a Kohen marry a convert?
According to Orthodox Judaism, how can a Kohen marry a convert to Judaism?
Conservative FAQ: Can a Kohen marry the daughter of a convert?
According to Conservative Judaism, can a Kohen marry the daughter of a convert?
Conservative FAQ: Can Kohen status be relinguished
According to Conservative Judaism, Can Kohen relinguish his status as a Kohen in order to marry a convert to Judaism?
Reform FAQ: Am I Jewish if my last name is Kohen?
Reform Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser explains why Jewish-sounding last names do not mean a person is Jewish. Some non-Jews have the last name of Kohen or Cohen.
Reform FAQ: Is Kohanim status inherited from the father only?
Reform Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser is asked if Judaism's move toward egalitarianism has affected Judaism's observance of male-line inheritance of Kohanim status.
Biology Daily: Y-Chromosomal Aaron
This Biology Daily article describes genetic research that led to the finding of the Y-chromosomal Aaron, or the hypothesised ancestor of the Kohanim (singular "Kohen" or Kohane), a patrilineal priestly caste in Judaism.
American Technion Society - Skorecki's Discovery on Kohanim
Prof. Karl Skorecki of the Technion Faculty of Medicine talks about his headline-grabbing discovery that the lineage of the modern-day Kohanim – the descendants of the tribe of Jewish priests – can be traced back to a single male ancestor. He’ll also discuss the research that proved that 40 percent of Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of four “founding mothers.”
Jewish priestly line maintains legacy -- and genetic marker
This Post-Gazette article discusses Skorecki's discovery of shared genetic markers among today's Kohanim as well as what the discover means.
The Cohen-Levi Family Heritage: Timeline of Kohanim
This Timeline of Kohanim traces the history of the Kohanim from the pre-Sinai period (3,300 years ago) with the First Kohen Gadol (Aharon HaKohen) until the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
Jewish Genetics: Studies of Cohens and Levites
Read abstracts and summaries of scientific studies of Cohens and Levites.
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