JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Cohanim, Leviim and Genealogy #general


In a message dated 3/31/2006 7:55:07 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Nick
Landau (
commented on a statement by
"Alan Weiser" <> that read

Recently a gentleman with the same surname as mine inquired of me
whether I was a Cohen, Levy, or Israel. When I replied I was an
Israel, he responded there would be no family relationship because he
was a Levy.
Nick's comment was:

< I would suggest that with a little thought he would have realised he was
< wrong. My mother was the daughter of a Cohen. I am not.

< If my mother had had a brother he would have been a Cohen, and so
< would his children have been. My cousins in that case, would have been
< Cohanim, whilst, as I say, I am not.

==Nick Landau seems to forget that the first thing Alan told us was
"a gentleman with the same surname as mine." In other words the
"gentleman", presumably a Mr. Weiser, is a Levite. Presumably his surname
has come down in the male line. Presumably Alan Weiser also acquired his
name through the male line. "Gentleman" Weiser's ancestors were Levites,
Alan Weisers were not. Ergo, two different and unrelated male lines of

==Knowing these traditional groups among Jews can be very useful. My pgm's
mgf was Baer GOLDSCHMIDT of Bad Homburg near Frankfurt. It was suggested
to me that for a variety of good reasons, he was likely related to the famed
Goldschmidt families of Frankfurt. Thanks to the help of many genners who
responded to my query a few days ago, I was able to explore the trees of the famed
Frankfurt Goldschmidts. They were all Levites. My ancestor is a Yisraei. Clear
to me, with no further searching, my ancestor is not related in the male line to
those families.

==Similarly, My male ancestral line is Levi'im. Early in my genealogy
research I looked up Frensdorf, our ancestral village, in the Encyclopedia
Judaica. The village wasn't there
(not surprising--it was tiny) but the EJ did give me a lead to a line of
rabbis and scholars in Hamburg and Hanover, named FRENSDORFF. Furthermore, they
were Levites.

==At various times since around 1700, family members had moved away >from our
village and, on moving elsewhere, became know as the FRENSDORFs and they were
all, not surprisingly, Levites, too. I have since been searching for FRENSDORFs
and FRENSDORFFs all over the world, and found many. The FRENSDORFF descendants
have done excellent research and have details on hundreds of family members,
including at least one, an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop. The Jews among them are
very aware of their Levitical status. I am planning to have a DNA test to
establish what we already know,
that we share the same ancestor, Suessel Alexander Jekusiel ben Naftali
Hirsch Halevi of Frensdorf, born ca 1650.

==I keep checking out FRENSDORF families wherever I find them (Only those who came
to Hamburg in the late 18th century doubled the last letter of their name).
My first enquiry is always "are they Levites." I haven't come across one yet who
knew for sure he wasn't.

==Similarly, my pgm's pgm was a Mainzer. Tradition has it she was descended >from
the Mainzer dynasty of rabbis who stem >from Mainz. The rabbis of mainz were
Levites. I had no idea about my female ancestor--but her father's grave shows
clearly that he wasa Levite--so the tradition of her descent is likely correct.

==Knowing whether someone's male line is Kohen or Levi can be extremely
useful in tracing ancestry. It doesn't necessarily prove it, but if the status
doesn't match, one has to find lots of substantial proofs if one wants to
convincingly establish a relationship.

Michael Bernet, New York

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