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Does anyone have reliable statistics (and barring that, reasonable anectdotal evidence) of the fraction of Kohanim, Levi'im, and Yisraelim in various Jewish communities today. By "communities" I don't necessarily mean geographic, but minhagic, like Chabad/Syrian/Litvak, etc.

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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22549 –  msh210 Dec 3 '12 at 3:47

3 Answers 3

The Persian community (mostly Shirazi) absorbed by Baltimore contains a high fraction of Cohanim and very few Leviim.

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What could explain this strange distribution? –  WAF Nov 11 '10 at 4:09
    
I had heard similar stats about the Syrian community in the US. One explanation (although I am personal skeptical) is that under the various persecutions in Syria in the past century or so, the community focused on getting the Cohanim safely out. Maybe some Leviim impersonated Cohanim in order to be safe too. –  Jeremy Nov 11 '10 at 14:52
    
There's some discussion about how most of the Cohanim returned from Babylon to Israel with Ezra and Nechemiah, but very few Leviim did. I always wondered if that was related ... –  Shalom Nov 12 '10 at 13:46
    
@WAF Perhaps they are largely from the same ancestral family. –  Daniel Aug 1 '12 at 3:34
    
@WAF Of course I mean much more recently than Aharon haCohen :) –  Daniel Aug 1 '12 at 3:35

Djerba has almost all kohanim.

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Wikipedia doesn't provide a source though –  Shmuel Brin Dec 22 '11 at 3:38
    
@ShmuelBrill, true, but I knew it independently. I don't remember from where, though. –  msh210 Dec 22 '11 at 15:47
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Hebrew Wikipedia points to a recent article in the Israeli weekly Makor Rishon - אליהו בירנבוים, אי הנפלאות 1 באוגוסט 2008 מקור ראשון There were two primary centers of Jewish life, Kohanim founded דיגת, Israelites founded חארה כבירה. According to legend, the Israelites were from Zevulun since they maintained seafaring trade with nearby Phoenicians in Carthage. Also acc. to legend, because the inhabitants didn't return for the building of the Second Temple, Ezra cursed the Leviim on the island and they died off. To this day, Leviim aren't permitted to permanently reside for more than a year. –  ChaimKut Jan 12 '12 at 1:32
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There's also an interesting article from the journal מחניים: daat.ac.il/daat/history/nidhey/rabinovitsh.htm –  ChaimKut Jan 12 '12 at 1:42
    
The article from Makor Rishon can be found here: musaf-shabbat.com/2011/01/18/… –  ChaimKut Jan 22 '12 at 22:09

Answer: Levites: 4%, Priests: 4%.

A scientific article which deals with the genetics of priests and Levites quotes a book from 1999 (not available for reading online) which estimates Levites and priests each at 4% of the general Jewish population. Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000292970763626X#bbib6 Referenced book: "The genetic origins of Old Testament priests", CE Renfrew, Editor, Population specific polymorphisms, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom (1999), pp. 31–44

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