Rabbinic Genealogy SIG #Rabbinic BENVENISTE-HOROWITZ-EPSTEIN Y-DNA Study #rabbinic
I have just established the Benveniste & Sons Family Tree DNA
JewishGen surname project. Painless mouth swab genetic testing
procedures are being used as a promising tool for breaking through
our genealogical brick walls. It might help you to greatly expand
your family tree, and may also help our surname project.
Two prominent Ashkenazi families claim descent >from two brothers
who lived in Spain during the 13th Century CE . The EPSTEINs' alleged
patriarch is Rabbi Aharon de na Clara ben Yosef haLevi. The
HOROWITZs' alleged patriarch is Rabbi Pinhas, Rabbi Aharon's older
brother and mentor. These brothers are the direct male descendants
of Rabbi Zerahyah ben Yitzhak haLevi Gerondi (died after 1186). EPSTEIN
family lore asserts that Aharon's surname was BENVENISTE. The lack of
documentary evidence has, until now, raised doubts about the veracity
of these claims. Recent advances in genetic science may help us to
determine the extent to which the claimed connections between these
families are true.
The first known male HOROWITZ is Yishayahu ben Moshe haLevi ish
Horowitz who came to Prague in the late 15th Century >from the village
of Horovice. The first known male EPSTEIN is Yaakov (Koppelman) ben
Natan haLevi von Eppstein who came to Frankfurt am Main in the early
15th Century >from the town of Eppstein. BENVENISTEs were prominent in
Spain and later in the Balkans. I do not know whether there have been
several BENVENISTE families or only one. We know that many Jews
assumed the EPSTEIN and HOROWITZ surnames in the 19th Century.
Several EPSTEINs have already joined in a surname project. We
have identified members of one paternal Levite lineage that has
borne the Epstein surname for several centuries. Most of the project's
current members, however, are patrilineally unrelated to each other.
In addition, the BENVENISTE & sons DNA project was established to
explore the connection among these families and to also enable
BENVENISTEs and historic HOROWITZes to connect to cousins. To
accomplish these goals and to create as broad a search as possible,
we need male BENVENISTEs and historic HOROWITZes and EPSTEINs
to contribute a cheek swab as a DNA sample. If you are female
member of these families or a member through female ancestors, a
sample >from a qualified male relative can represent your family in
the test. If you are not a member of these families, please share
this message with BENVENISTEs, HOROWITZes and EPSTEINs who
may want to participate in this project.
To join the BENVENISTE & Sons surname project, go to
To also join the EPSTEIN surname project, go to http://tinyurl.com/nyh6z .
The basic, and most affordable, twelve marker test will indicate to
whom you are probably related. The more advanced tests could help
to identify closer and more certain relationships. If we confirm the
families' common ancestry, we will need several high resolution tests
to identify the Y-DNA chromosomes of the common ancestor. You
can start with the 12 marker test and add to it at a later date, using
the same sample.
More information about DNA testing and JewishGen's involvement
in it can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/dna/
Itzhak Epstein New York, NY