Volume 55 Number 58
                    Produced: Thu Aug 30  6:43:35 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Child of a woman who converts
         [Michael Broyde]
         [Fay Berger]
Conversons under duress
         [Idelle Rudman]
Converted Jew vs.non-observant / intermarried
         [Carl Singer]
Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew? (4)
         [Daniel Geretz, Eitan Fiorino, Bob Kosovsky, Shimon Lebowitz]


From: Michael Broyde <mbroyde@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 10:29:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Child of a woman who converts

While all the writers so far have posited that, of course, the child of
a woman who was born Jewish but converted out of Judaism and then
married a gentile, is Jewish even if she is raised as a Gentile, it is
worth noting that Rav Moshe Feinstein in IM EH 1:8 states quite directly
that this is not correct and that such a child needs to undergo

(Warning: Do not take this citation of IM to be a statement of normative
halacha.  But that is probably true for most things one reads on the

Michael J. Broyde


From: <JuniperViv@...> (Fay Berger)
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 18:05:57 EDT
Subject: Re: Conversions

If I remember correctly, Steven Dubner's book "Turbulent Souls:A
Catholic Son's Return to his Jewish Family" tells how both his parents
were born Jewish and practiced Catholicism.

When he asked a Orthodox Rabbi about converting to Judaism,he was told
he didn't have to convert. As long as his mother was born Jewish,he was

Fay Berger


From: Idelle Rudman <idellerudman@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 04:15:02 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Conversons under duress

The issue of conversion has been discussed by many poskim over the last
millenium.  Chachmei Ashkenaz had to deal with it as the reult of the
pogroms during the Crusader period.  The Spanish poskim dealt with it
regularly following the pogroms in Spain in 1392.  The sha'alot involved
were money issues, inheritance, partnerships in business, etc.  The
partnership issue was critical during the Spanish period, since one
partner fled, and the shutof agreed to remain in order to save the
business, and there was a financial agreement made.  Very often
circumstances aborted this agreement.  What to do then?

There were issues of yibbum, chalitsa, agunot, the whole gamut of family
relationships.  There was a major interest in the saying of kaddish.
Does one say for someone who became a meshumad, but what if secretly
maybe he still felt Jewish?

All the above were dealt with by poskim, some more maykail, and some
more machmir, very much depending on the circumstances of the society in
which they lived.

Idelle Rudman


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 07:36:36 -0400
Subject: Converted Jew vs.non-observant / intermarried

The discussion thus far seems to hover around two topics -- the (status
of a) Jew who converts to another religion and that of his or HER
progeny.  This discussion concerns the latter.

I've lived in my current home / community for just over a decade.  A few
years ago, one of my neighbors, a Catholic of Puerto Rican heritage
tells me that his mother-in-law is Jewish.  His two teenage daughters
attend a private Catholic school.  I do not know (and it is none of my
business) anything else about the religious observance of any the
parties involved.

A co-worker with an Italian name once told me that her mother was Jewish
but that she was raised Catholic.

In today's society, with significant intermarriage I believe the above
are not a rare occurrences.  We have people whose "maternal lineage" is
Jewish but who may or may not even know of same or what it might imply.

There are many halachic and behavioral questions that one encounters
when dealing with people who (a) we know are in circumstances similar to
above, (b) we suspect might be or (c) in general when we're in a
pluralistic society with significant intermarriage.

For example, in the office, I treated my co-worker as I would a
non-observant Jew in making sure that erev Succos I not do anything that
would cause her to have to do work on my behalf during Yom Tov (which
she doesn't observe.)  With my neighbors, I certainly wouldn't consider
using them as a Shabbos Goy.

Any thoughts?



From: Daniel Geretz <danny@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 09:49:46 -0400
Subject: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

Avi Feldblum writes:

> Basically, my stated understanding is that a Jew who converts to another
> religion and actively practices that religion has a status that is often
> called "Yisrael Meshumad" or "Yisrael Mumer". There are a number of
> halachot, where this person is treated the same as a non-Jew. It might
> be of interest to identify those halachot. However, my understanding of
> the majority opinion is that the person still has the status of
> "Jew". S/he is a Jew who is in violation of Halacha, but still
> Jewish. The primary indicator would be whether the child of a female
> person with this status who returned to Judaism would require a full
> halachic conversion. Rabbi Chipman, is it your understanding that Rabbi
> Sirat would or would not require conversion with bracha etc for this
> child?

Off the top of my head, perhaps one makes a distinction based on "edut"
(testimony.)  In order to decide whether a conversion is necessary or
not, one needs to establish Jewish lineage as a fact.  It may depend on
how this fact is established.  For example, is "common knowledge," such
as in the case of Lustiger, an adequate basis on which to establish
Jewish lineage and thus obviate the need for a conversion, or do we need
two kosher eidim (witnesses.)  In the case where families lived in a
shtetl their entire lives, this might be much easier to accomplish than
in the US currently, where the population is much more mobile (for
example, the vast majority of people who have really known me my entire
life are my family, and they are posul l'eidus (disqualified witnesses,)
being relatives.)

I don't know the answer to this question.  However, this might be one
factor contributing to seemingly divergent opinions on the necessity of
conversion for a "Yisrael Meshumad/Mumar."

From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 11:00:29 -0400
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

I am travelling (in zichron yaakov at this particular moment) and have
no immediate access to sources, but perhaps others will be able to dig
them up (though I should have mekorot at home from a lecture by
R. Ephraim Kanarfogel that I heard on this topic). There was some debate
amongst the rishonim of Ashkenaz as to whether a Jew returning to
Judaism after conversion to Christianity (forced or voluntary) requires
tevilah.  While it does not seem as if this was considered an act of
gerut, it does raise questions of what the status of such a person was
before or after they had done teshuvah but had not yet immersed in the
mikveh (according to those who held tevila was required).  Certainly it
would be possible to misread these sources as indicating that these
rishonim held that conversion to Christianity makes one not Jewish.  The
debate of course must be viewed in light of the deeply held revulsion
for the "polluting waters" of baptism found in medieval Ashkenaz.  I am
not aware that any achronim hold according to this position.


From: <kos@...> (Bob Kosovsky)
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 13:06:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

This discussion brings up many new questions.

If one knows that one's maternal grandmother was a Jew who converted
out, is one still Jewish?  What about a maternal-maternal
great-grandmother?  Great-great-grandmother, etc?

Is there not a point at which halacha limits the number of generations
through which one can still claim being Jewish?

One of my hobbies is genealogy.  I know lots of people who can trace
their familes back at least 200 years, some into the 17th century.  If
one can prove a purely matrilinial ancestor who was Jewish - does that
mean that the descendent is Jewish?

Bob Kosovsky, New York City, seeking any and all permutations/locations

From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 00:45:16 +0400
Subject: Re: Is a Converted Jew Still a Jew?

>     Similarly, Israel's Supreme Court, back in the 1950's, ruled on
> the case of Brother Daniel (Oswald Rufeisen), a Polish Jew who
> converted to Christianity during the Shoah, remained out of
> conviction, became a Carmelite monk, made "aliyah" to Israel, and
> sought citizenship under the Law of Return.  The court rejected his
> application, saying that under the common, and common-sense,
> understanding of what it means to be a Jew, being a Jew and a
> Christian are mutually exclusive identities.

Of course I cannot know what would happen in a hypothetical situation,
but I have VERY great doubts that today's court, in a similar situation,
would agree.

Responding to another posting in the same thread:

> * The ritual slaughter of a meshumad (loosely, a practicing
> out-converted Jew) is permitted (Tos. Hulin 1:1)

Yikes!! I looked at that SEVERAL times, till I realized that it did NOT
say "one may slaughter a meshumad"!! LOL

How about "ritual slaughter BY a meshumad is permitted"?

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


End of Volume 55 Issue 58