R1a-2619 Ashkenazi Levites

About R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites

This website is devoted to the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite Y-DNA cluster, also known as the R1a1a Ashkenazi Levite cluster. (While the early literature often used the term R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites, this website will for the sake of consistency use the term R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites to refer to this cluster, even when discussing the earlier studies that used the older nomenclature.)

According to a 2003 study, about 52% of Ashkenazi men with a tradition of Levite descent belong to the R1a haplogroup. That haplogroup is less common among Ashkenazim without a tradition of Levite descent (and R1a-Y2619 men without a tradition of Levite descent are often able to determine from genealogical records or tombstones that their direct male line is in fact Levite). The haplogroup is found only rarely 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 R1a-Y2619 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 to on this website as the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor) who lived about 1,743 years ago, according to the 2017 Behar paper, or about 1,200 years ago, according to the YFull tree as of July 2021. About 7.9% of the Ashkenazi population - about 300,000 men living today - are descended from the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor on their direct male lines. R1a-Y2619 is one of the largest Y-DNA clusters - if not the largest Y-DNA cluster - among Ashkenazi Jews.

The R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor was 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.

The R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor 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.

The direct male ancestor of the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite line lived in the Middle East as of about 3,143 years ago, according to the 2017 Behar paper, or about 2,800 years ago, according to the YFull tree as of July 2021. The geographic origins of the line 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 or 2,800 years ago) and the time of the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite progenitor (about 1,743 or 1,200 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.

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.

About the Website

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 R1a-Y2619 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, which comprises a significant cluster of R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites. The website also provides background on Y-DNA testing and analysis, as well as 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. 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. A significant number of R1a-Y2619 men have discovered their Levite - or Jewish - ancestry only after receiving Y-DNA test results.

This website started as a Yahoo group created in January 2013 to share a sortable spreadsheet of Y-DNA results for what were then known as R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites, along with a methodology for analyzing the results to identify relatively close matches based upon shared patterns of Short Tandem Repeat ("STR") marker values. As of that time, the spreadsheet included STR marker values for about 260 R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites who had tested through Family Tree DNA ("FTDNA") to at least 37 markers. (The results were compiled from various public sources, including FTDNA project pages, and from matches who provided their results for inclusion in the analyses.)

Throughout 2013, additional analyses were posted as attachments on the Yahoo group website. On December 14, 2013, the content of the Yahoo group website was placed on this website, www.levitedna.org.

Starting in mid-2014, the website provided a SNP-based tree for R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites and their closest matches. As of that time, the tree included the results for five R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites who had done full Y-DNA testing - two men who had tested through FTDNA's newly introduced Big Y test, two men who had tested through Full Genomes Corporation's recently introduced full Y-DNA testing, and one man who had been tested for scientific papers.

As discussed in detail on the What's New page, the website has continued to be updated over time, both by adding new results for R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites as they have been received and by discussing new research - most significantly, the 2013 Rootsi & Behar paper and the 2017 Behar paper on R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites.

With the arrival of more results of full Y-DNA testing and additional analyses, it became apparent that the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite cluster was older and had more branching than had appeared to be the case based upon the initially received results. Thus, while the earliest version of this website had concluded that a large proportion of R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites were descended from or closely related to the founder of the Horowitz rabbinical family, who lived in the late 15th century, it is now clear that the relationship of most R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites to the Horowitzes is more distant.

The broader discussions and analyses on the website have been updated periodically, most recently in July 2021. However, for historical purposes, the website posts some discussions and analyses that have been superseded or supplemented over time. (In most instances, such discussions and analyses are flagged as having been included for historical reasons.)

The website is regularly updated to include newly received STR and SNP results for R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites. The pages that are most frequently updated are the pages with: (1) the SNP tree and the schematic SNP tree for R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites; (2) the R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levite Sortable Spreadsheet, the Y-Utility spreadsheet with STR marker values, and the Steps to Matches spreadsheet for use with the Sortable Spreadsheet; and (3) various STR-based, computer-generated trees for R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites. The What's New page identifies recently revised pages.

As of July 2021, the website posted a spreadsheet (linked at the bottom of this page) with STR marker values for about 790 R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites who had tested through FTDNA to at least 37 markers, and a SNP-based tree (in schematic form and linked at the bottom of this page in complete form) for nearly 250 R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites who had done full Y-DNA testing.

This website complements a Google group (formerly a Yahoo group) and a Facebook group for people who are interested in R1a-Y2619 Ashkenazi Levites. Both groups have been created to facilitate discussion and to post announcements concerning updates to this website.

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.

Comments or updated information may be sent to jeffwexler@ca.rr.com.

Acknowledgements

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 (@1856 - 1913)

Photograph taken in Akkerman, Ukraine in @1905