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Levite Tombstones

Typically, 19th century civil records do not identify Levite status (except to the extent that a surname identifies Levite status or that the records are signed in Hebrew with a name identifying Levite status). 

Accordingly, tombstones (matzevot) will often be the most reliable evidence of Levite status. 

Traditionally, Jewish tombstones will identify Levites, in Hebrew, as Ha-Levi (הלווי or הלוי), meaning the Levite.

In addition, tombstones for Levites of Ashkenazi descent will often include the Levite symbol of a pitcher (an ewer) (and, sometimes, a bowl), referring to the Levites' traditional duty, during Biblical times, of cleaning the hands of the Temple priest (the Cohen) prior to a religious service. Some tombstones for Levites of Ashkenazi descent may picture a musical instrument, a reference to the service of Levites as musicians at the Temple in Biblical times. 

To the right are photographs of Levite symbols on tombstones in the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, provided by Jim Wald (below them are photographs of Cohen symbols - hands giving the priestly benediction -- also from the Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague).  Below are photographs of Levite symbols on tombstones in Poland, provided by Ben Weinstock.

1876 Levite tombstone provided by Ben Weinstock

1876 tombstone for Yechezkel ben (son of) Yosef Weinfeld, from Chrzanow, Poland

1936 Levite tombstone provided by Ben Weinstock

1936 tombstone for Rabbi
Yakov Yitzhak ben (son of)
Rabbi Yechezkel HaLevi
Weinfeld from Chrzanow,
Poland

Prague Levite Pitcher 1Prague Levite Pitcher 3

Prague Levite Pitcher 2

Prague Levite Pitcher 4Prague Levite Pitcher 5

Prague Levite Pitcher 6

Above: Photographs of Levite tombstones at Old Jewish
Cemetery of Prague, taken by Jim Wald

Prague Cohen Hands 2

Prague Cohen Hands 1

Prague Cohen Hands 2

Prague Cohen Hands 4

Above: Photographs of Cohen tombstones at Old Jewish Cemetery of Prague, taken by Jim Wald