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I just recently learned that there are still Kohanim, members of the priestly family of Aaron, alive today. I had thought, mistakenly, that they had vanished with the destruction of Herod's temple in 70CE.

My question is, how do the remaining Kohanim know that they are in fact descendants of Aaron?

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  • Thanks for the vocabulary update, @Loewian. Jewish terminology isn't my strongest attribute :)
    – Dan Gayle
    Feb 11, 2016 at 1:06

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They have a tradition from their patrilineal ancestors. See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Aaron

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  • As Jews, a lot of us have family tradition about which tribe or family we are from; however, are we to rely on a family "tradition", whose member(s) might be interested in whitewashing certain facts about the family line? I ask this in relation to the 9-kohen-related mitzvoth (from the 77 positive and the 194 negative mitzvoth) that are still valid for today. Basically, based on your answer, which is a common answer among those of us, who follow Jewish tradition, it is really a matter of trust that so-and-so is a Kohen, because he believes firmly from his family tradition?
    – ninamag
    Aug 28, 2017 at 15:11

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