I've come to understand over time that if an Orthodox convert leaves Judaism/stops practicing all or some of Judaism, the status of their Jewish identity is decided on a case-by-case basis by the rabbinate. In some cases, it may be decided that the person is still Jewish while in others the person's conversion is revoked altogether.

My question is, according to Reform Judaism, what is the status of such an individual (one who has completed a Reform conversion)? Is it also case-by-case or is there a sweeping consensus?

Edit: I've found an article that refers to the matter. However, I found the Reform rabbi's answer to be ambiguous and open to interpretation:

"If a Jew leaves Judaism by adopting another religion, that individual is regarded as outside the boundaries of the Jewish community," says Rabbi Stephen Einstein, co-chair of the Commission on Outreach, Membership, and Sacred Community of the Union for Reform Judaism and Central Conference of American Rabbis. "Of course, s/he could choose at a later time to return."

a. Does being outside the boundaries of the Jewish community mean being not Jewish or merely being a heretical Jew? b. Choosing to return - does that mean through doing teshuvah or by converting once more? And if the latter, can this be done an endless number of times or is there a limit?

Perhaps someone could clarify?

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    I remember hearing of a case where a women who converted Reform wanted to back out and join a church. Her clergyman told her she first had to get a letter from her (Reform) rabbi releasing her from Judaism. The rabbi refused, saying "Once a Jew, always a Jew." Jun 2, 2020 at 18:33
  • @MauriceMizrahi wow, that sounds interesting for all sorts of reasons. Is there possibly a source for the case somewhere?
    – Harel13
    Jun 2, 2020 at 18:42

2 Answers 2


Finally, I decided to send in the question on the Q&A section in ReformJudaism.org. Here is the response I received from Reform Rabbi Julie Zupan:

A person’s conversion is permanent, unless there’s reason to suspect that they did not choose Judaism in good faith and without coercion. Many of us find that some religious practices are more compelling to us than others and that changes over time. It’s not unusual for one’s religious observances to change over time – for a person to stop practicing certain elements of the tradition. However, if one converts to another religion, then they are no longer Jewish.

And I followed with:

Would an ex-convert (that is, someone who converted to Judaism and then converted to a different religion, who is then no longer considered Jewish) be allowed to convert once more if they so wish (and are deemed honest in their wishes)?

To which she answered:

I think so, yes. And that really is something to work out with their rabbi.

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    It seems you have uncovered a category that does not exist in Orthodoxy: was Jewish between the conversion and the (?) “expulsion” (for lack of a better word). In Orthodoxy the conversion either stands and the person is still Jewish albeit maybe an apostate or the conversion is void and the person was never Jewish. The areas where the distinction matters don’t really concern in Reform. [cont’d]
    – Damila
    Jun 25, 2020 at 2:41
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    [cont’d] If the would be convert is male, married and divorced, there could be issues with mamzerus in future children of his ex-wife. Reform does not consider mamzerus operative b’zman hazeh and Orthodox would not have considered him Jewish at any time in 99+% of Reform conversions so no issue. If female, the question would be are her children Jewish (assume their father is not). I’m not sure how Reform would resolve this, so in that case the distinction does perhaps matter.
    – Damila
    Jun 25, 2020 at 2:42
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    Maybe you could ask Rabbi Zupan if the person no longer Jewish person was Jewish for a time. You could say you are wondering how it would affect children she had.
    – Damila
    Jun 25, 2020 at 2:46
  • @Damila sent. Let's see what she says.
    – Harel13
    Jun 25, 2020 at 5:37
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    @Damila "Yes, people who become Jewish remain Jewish unless there is reason to suspect their conversion was not valid." - that's what she answered. It seems vague. To me it sounds that people who honestly converted to RJ can't have their conversion invalidated even if they convert to another religion afterwards, but I may be wrong in my interpretation.
    – Harel13
    Jun 25, 2020 at 17:47

Not directly on-point but Liberal Judaism in the UK (which is equivalent to Reform in the US) has a rule that a convert who - after registering on a conversion process - has a church wedding is thereby disqualified from admission to Judaism. One assumes a similar principle could apply in other circumstances that were equally unambiguous in denoting someone having left Judaism?

  • Interesting. I'm not sure I would apply the same principle in both situations, but then again - I'd be an Orthodox applying Orthodox logic in a non-Orthodox situation. Also, I'm not a posek.
    – Harel13
    Jun 2, 2020 at 15:46
  • @Harel13 I'm also not sure I'd apply the same principle in both situations, but it was the closest parallel for which there is a rule which sprung to mind, so I thought I'd throw it out there.
    – Zarka
    Jun 2, 2020 at 15:50
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    Thanks, the addition to general knowledge is appreciated. Who knows, it may turn out to be the correct סברה.
    – Harel13
    Jun 2, 2020 at 15:52

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