This website is devoted to the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite Y-DNA cluster, also known as the R1a1a Ashkenazi Levite cluster.  (Information concerning the Y-DNA ancestral lines of Ashkenazi Jews and Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroup frequencies for Ashkenazi Jews, previously posted on this website, is now posted on a separate website.)

According to a
2003 study, about 52% of Ashkenazi men with a tradition of Levite descent belong to the R1a haplogroup. That haplogroup is relatively rare among Ashkenazim without a tradition of Levite descent and still more uncommon among Sephardim (both Levites and non-Levites). Men belonging to this R1a cluster of Ashkenazi men have become known as R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites or, more recently, as R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites (Y2619 is a single-nucleotide polymorphism ("SNP") that is shared by all R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites.) 

Dr. Doron Behar’s November 2017 paper on R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites, D. Behar et al., The genetic variation in the R1a clade among the Ashkenazi Levites’ Y chromosome, SREP-17-37687 (2017), of which the webmaster of this website is a co-author, sets forth the currently known information as to the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite cluster. This website posts a summary of that paper.

In short, all R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites are descended on their direct male lines from a single man (referred on this website at the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor) who lived about 1,743 years ago. About 7.9% of the Ashkenazi population - about 300,000 men living today - are descended from the R1a-Y2619 progenitor on their direct male lines. The R1a-Y2619 progenitor was very likely not only Jewish but also Levite, as is evidenced by the fact that men on all R1a-Y2619 branches are predominantly not only Jewish but also Levite. One major branch of R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite includes known descendants of the Horowitz Levitical rabbinical family of Prague.

The R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor who lived about 1,743 years ago was very likely Ashkenazi. as is evidenced by the fact that men on all R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi branches are predominantly of Ashkenazi origins; however, there has been some migration of R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite lines to non-Ashkenazi regions. As of about 3,143 years ago, the direct male ancestor of the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite line lived in the Middle East, as is demonstrated by the fact that the closest Y-DNA matches of R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites - men who belong to the R1a-M582 Y-DNA cluster of which the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite cluster is a subcluster - are found predominantly in the Middle East (primarily in Iran). Because there is a bottleneck in the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite line between the time of the R1a-M582 progenitor about 3,143 years ago and the time of the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor about 1,743 years ago, the Y-DNA evidence does not allow determinations as to when the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite line (1) moved from the Middle East to Europe or (2) became part of the Jewish population.

This website contains a detailed analysis of the interrelationships among individual R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites, based upon SNP and STR testing, as well as discussions of the historical background of R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites and theories concerning the origins of R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites. The website presents some genealogical information concerning Levites, focusing on the Horowitz rabbinical family; we hope to add more information. The website also provides background on Y-DNA testing and analysis, and generally applicable advice for interpreting and evaluating Y-DNA results.

The DNA analysis set forth on this website applies to all men who belong to the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite subclade, regardless of whether they have a tradition of Levite descent.  It appears probable that all men belonging to this subclade are descended from Levite men on their direct male line, even if such men lack a tradition of Levite - or Jewish - descent.

This website complements a Google group (formerly a Yahoo group)
 that we have formed to allow people who are interested in R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites may review documents and engage in discussions.  We have also created a Facebook group to facilitate discussion and to post announcements concerning updates to this website.

Perhaps 40% of Ashkenazi Jews with a Levite tradition are not R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites. If you have information or links concerning Levites who are not R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites, please e-mail us with such information or links for possible inclusion on this website.

Thanks to Meir Garbarz Gover and Ben Weinstock for their comments, suggestions, assistance, and insight with regard to the issues discussed on this website, to Jim Wald for providing artwork and photographs posted throughout this website, to Michał Milewski and A.J. Levin for their general assistance and insight, and to Dr. Doron Behar for the opportunity to assist in his research.


Yonkel Velvel Vodovoz

Yonkel Velvel Vodovoz (@1856 - 1913)
Photograph taken in Akkerman, Ukraine in @1905