If a child of a Jewish woman has been fathered by a person before marriage, and she marries a Jewish husband before birth and accepts the child knowingly, and the natural father does not claim fathership before court, even if the mother admits that it is not a natural child of her husband.

Supposed the natural fathership is not kept secret (which would usually be the case), who is the official father with respect ot lineage and heritage according to halacha?

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1 Answer 1


Still the biological father, 100%. The Jewish sources note that on Deuteronomy 21:17. A Jewish man "shall recognize" his biological Jewish offspring, no matter how messy the circumstances.

If the biological father is not Jewish, then from a Jewish law perspective the child has no father at all. The child is still Jewish because of the mother, though. The proper way to write the child's name in a Hebrew marriage document would be "[name], the son/daughter of [step-father] who raised him"; or another version would be: "[name], who goes by the son/daughter of [step-father]."

If the biological father was a kohen, the child is a kohen (assuming mom is Jewish and a whole bunch of other caveats.) If the biological father wasn't a kohen, then the child isn't -- even if the stepfather was.

I imagine the step-father in this case would want his stepchild to inherit a share in his estate; that can be accomplished by writing up the appropriate paperwork. But as far as what would happen if nothing else was specified? We'd fall back on the basic Jewish inheritance law, which requires biology.

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