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The Levitical Horowitz Rabbinical Family Alliances Project

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The Levitical Horowitz Rabbinical Family

The Horowitz are mostly a single most illustrious family of Levites, with hundreds of prominent rabbis, who trace their lineage back some thirty generations to Gerona, Spain. In the 15th century, around the time of the expulsion of Jews from Spain, they moved to the town of Horovice just outside Prague. But recent scholarship has cast doubt on the claim of Spanish descent, as it seems to have appeared for the first time in the late 19th century.
The focus of this project is to track and pinpoint dynastic alliances through marriage with leading rabbinical families eg. Halberstam (Sanz), Rokeach (Belz), Frankel Teomim, Landau, Rubin and Heller rabbinical families in order to protect the integrity of the Horowitz Family line.

The R1a1a Ashkenazi Levite Y-DNA subclade

This website is devoted to the R1a1a Ashkenazi Levite Y-DNA subclade. Known descendants of the Horowitz Levitical rabbinical family of Prague are R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites.

Perhaps half of the R1a1a Ashkenazi Levites who have tested to at least 37 Short Tandem Repeat ("STR") markers appear to share a common ancestor who lived in or about the 15th century.

It is believed that this common ancestor – who appears to be the direct male ancestor of more than 1% of Ashkenazim living today – may be the founder of the Horowitz rabbinical family, Rabbi Isaiah ben Moshe Asher Halevi Horowitz (c1440 – 1515).

Most of the Horowitz men who have tested STR markers to date appear to be descended from the line of Isaiah’s great grandson Pinchas Halevi Horowitz (1535-1618), but we have test results for groups of men who apparently descend from Isaiah through other lines (presumably including the line of Isaiah’s grandson the Shelah, Rabbi Isaiah Halevi Horowitz (1568-1627).

The Horowitz Benveniste DNA 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 Horowitzes’ 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 first known male Horowitz is Yishayahu ben Moshe haLevi Ish Horowitz who came to Prague in the late15th 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, after the expulsion, were prominent in the Balkans. We 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 he 19th Century.

Horowitz Ancestors & Rabbis


Horowitz Family Tree


Horowitz family in Jewish history

The Horowitz family is one of the most illustrious rabbinic families in Jewish History. Tradition quoted by scholars traces this family to the “Sons of Korach” quoted in the Bible (Numbers 26:11) and in Psalms 47.

A family tree exists which traces Horowitz origins back to the 12th century. This family produced some of the greatest rabbinic scholars (Sephardic) of France and Italy in the 12, 13, and 14th centuries.

The Sephardic surname of this family was BenVeniste, which was later changed to Horowitz upon their immigration to the town of Horowitz (near Prague) in the German province of Bohemia in the 16th century. From that time forward prominent rabbis of this family were found in virtually every European country.

In the 18th century, two rabbis of this clan, Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke and Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz, joined the Chasidic movement. A branch of this family, related to the Chasidic dynasty of Lelov, immigrated to Palestine and were amongst the first Chasidim settling in Jerusalem in 1851.

The Horowitz family produced hundreds of important rabbis and leaders in the last 150 years.

According to the Baal Shem Tov, There are three famous Jewish families that are pure, generation after generation: Horowitz, Margoliot and Shapiro. ("The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov") Yitzhak Buxbaum

Horowitz Surname

There is one other family of Horowitz that are NOT Levites. This is the extensive family of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Horowitz, founder of the Ropshitz Hassidic dynasty, and the many dynasties derived from it. His mother was a Horowitz by birth, and he adopted her maiden name.

The Horowitz surname has been spelled at least 50 ways, in three languages. The more popular being: Horowitz, Hurwitz, Horvich, and under influence of Russian pronunciation, Gurevich, Gurvich, Gurwitz, etc. הורוויץ, הורוביץ, גורביץ