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I am 99.44 % sure of the answer to this hypothetical situation. But I want to remove any doubt. I will set it out in this manner: Reuben Cohen is, in fact, a Kohen. He marries a gentile woman who does not convert. She gives birth to a son, Joshua. Joshua then marries a Jewish woman who gives birth to a son, Ephraim. Does Ephraim have Kahuna? I am almost certain he does not. Is that the correct answer? Many thanks.

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  • Correct. Joshua is considered not Jewish in halacha. Ephraim, from a halachic perspective, has no father and thus is certainly not a kohen. The right way to identify Ephraim in a Jewish marriage document is in fact "Ephraim son of [mother]", or "Ephraim son of [maternal grandfather]."
    – Shalom
    Feb 28, 2022 at 9:47
  • To add to @Shalom s comment: Even if Joshua converts to Judaism, he is not a Cohen. If done before Ephraim is conceived, Joshua is halachically his father. Still neither is a Cohen.
    – Damila
    Mar 1, 2022 at 6:19
  • Thank you, Shalom and Damila. The former Senator and Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, had a Jewish father and a Gentile mother. Obviously he was not Jewish. Sadly there are no doubt numerous men carrying the name "Cohen" (or other forms of "Cohen" such as "Kagan", "Cohn", "Cohan" etc) who not only are not Kohens but are not Jewish. Once the Kahuna is lost, it is gone forever. Thank you again.
    – Sidney76
    Mar 1, 2022 at 13:46
  • @Damila good point. I knew a rabbi in a small community who had that issue. Big financial backer was a kohen, who married a non-Jew, converted the resulting kid, and then demanded the synagogue treat the son as a kohen. The rabbi got out of the pulpit.
    – Shalom
    Mar 2, 2022 at 1:18
  • Thank you for sharing that sad story, Damila, but story of courage and commitment. Those situations--when a big financial backer pressures a rav to act against Halacha and/or his PROPER values--are heartbreaking. I have heard of several such situations. But it is inspiring when the rav does not "cave in". Thank you gain.
    – Sidney76
    Mar 3, 2022 at 4:45

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