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I've discovered that my great, great grandmother was Jewish - i.e. my mother's mother's mother's mother. She converted to Catholicism upon marriage. Are matrilineal descendants of a Jewess who converted out still considered to be Jewish?

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2 Answers 2

If you know for a fact that she was Jewish, then you are 100% Jewish. No conversion is needed.

Mazal Tov, and Enjoy! :)

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Hello YechielLabunskiy and welcome to mi.yodeya! Thanks for your extremely direct answer to the question. Information on its source and background would be useful, especially if @NinaTheNinja wants to research further. –  WAF Jan 19 at 21:22
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Why "Mazel Tov"? –  Double AA Feb 18 at 22:57

I have met people that this occurred to and the problem is often the proof of the family status. That is, unless there is absolute proof (on a halachik - legal - basis), many people in this circumstance will "convert out of doubt". If the original Jewish mother was too long ago (as in centuries), it is possible that one of the intervening generations may not have been Jewish, but the family history forgot that. Additionally, accepting someone as Jewish cannot be done unless the evidence can be accepted in Bais Din (Jewish religious court). The evidence involved needs to be discussed with a rabbi who is an expert in such matters.

That is why the people that I knew performed a fully valid conversion. If the family history was true, then they were Jewish and the "conversion" while not required was a sign of renewed commitment. If the family history was inaccurate and they were not Jewish then the conversion made them Jews.

Many Conversos (Jews forced to convert to Catholicism in 1492) actually went to the Mikvah and symbolically "converted" when they managed to escape to the Netherlands and resumed their Judaism. The Rambam (Maimonides) also discusses people who had been in similar circumstances. I do not have the reference to that as it is from memory of a shiur that I attended a while ago.

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What exactly does the Rambam discuss? Certainly not the Conversos. –  Double AA May 8 at 16:27
    
@DoubleAA no, there were similar problems in his day as well. that is what is meant. I will change the reference to be clearer. –  sabbahillel May 8 at 16:37
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If the mother's mother's mother's mother was Jewish, how could one of the intervening generations be not Jewish? –  Daniel May 8 at 17:17
    
@Daniel I meant a matter of proof. It depends on what the specific evidence is. If it is the statement of an individual, it might not be sufficient as a legal matter. I will add the caveat to the post. –  sabbahillel May 8 at 17:43
    
In deciding whether a gerus l'chumra is necessary, or recommended, the documentation, time period, and geography may make a difference. If the great-great-grandmother had a clearly Jewish name and lived in Eastern Europe in the mid-19th century, it seems hard to imagine how the person could not be Jewish. But let's say the great-grandmother was from Germany from the late 19th century, and was not Orthodox. Because of the dominance of Reform (whose conversions are invalid) in Germany, it is possible that the great-grandmother had a mother or grandmother who was a gentile or an invalid convert. –  Kordovero May 9 at 14:28

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