A person says he's Jewish. Deeper inquiry reveals that there are sheilos. For Halachically significant areas (e.g. aliyas, minyanim), he's not considered Jewish. But what's the difference between a person who is not Jewish and a person for whom there is a sheiloh that they are Jewish. Are the latter usually from mixed families, and that there is murkiness even though overall it's Jewish. Is the latter more of an honest mistake? A person who claims to be Jewish when there is a sheilah, is he considered a liar?

  • I doubt you can consider someone who is getting interested in Yiddushkeit but unaware of the exact criteria to be considered Jewish, to be a 'liar'. He might have good intentions but is simply not knowledgeable of what is required.
    – Dov
    Oct 29 '21 at 8:35
  • It sounds like your mind filled in the gaps of my text correctly. The man is an am hararetz but pretends to know. Oct 29 '21 at 8:55
  • 1
    No I'm not saying he pretends he knows. He might just be ignorant that he can't do such a thing
    – Dov
    Oct 29 '21 at 9:17
  • I'm not sure what you are asking. Are you asking what halachic differences does it make between a person who has doubtful Jewish status and a non-Jew? You already noted that some people of doubtful Jewish status cannot be included in a minyan? What else are you asking?
    – mbloch
    Oct 29 '21 at 9:17
  • I'm not saying you are saying he pretends to know. I'm just saying in addition to not knowing he pretends to know Oct 29 '21 at 9:26

Someone who is definitely non-Jewish can marry another non-Jew, and has no obligation to keep the specific commandments of Jews. Someone who might be Jewish and might not can't really marry anyone: they can't marry a Jew because they might be non-Jewish, and they can't marry a non-Jew because they might be Jewish. And whether and how they keep the commandments applying to Jews would be a tricky question a competent rabbi would have to answer for their specific circumstances.

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