Sign In Forgot Password

How do you determine whether you are a Kohen, Levi or Yisrael?

Question of the Month:

How do you determine whether you are a Kohen, Levi or Yisrael?

Answer:

The mother determines if the child is Jewish or not according to Halakha and then if the child is Jewish, the father determines if the child is Kohen, Levi or Yisrael. All of this was ritually based and in the orthodox world only men/boys were involved in those rituals, so being the daughter of a Kohen or a Levi didn't mean much. However, in today's egalitarian world the situation has become more complex because there is no agreement or uniformity of practice. At our synagogue we consider a Bat-Kohen or a Bat-Levi to be the same as a Kohen or a Levi for all ritual functions which means that we will call either a Kohen or a Bat-Kohen for the first aliya to the Torah and a Levi or Bat-Levi for the second aliya. However, there are egalitarian Conservative congregations that only give the first two aliyot to men and treat a Bat-Kohen or a Bat-Levi the same as a Yisrael. A Bat-Kohen can get up and Dukhen here, but that is not true in all congregations where Kohanim offer the Priestly Benediction. A Kohen has right of first refusal in leading Birkat Hamazon after a meal and we would offer it to a Bat-Kohen in the same way. The main difference between being a Kohen and being a Bat-Kohen is that a Bat-Kohen does not transfer her Kohanut to her offspring, since she is determining her children's Jewishness, but the father of her children determine the tribe.

Thu, November 21 2019 23 Cheshvan 5780