Let's say there is a Jewish community where everybody knows each other, for example in a city. Let's say a new Jewish person arrives and manifests their will to get integrated with them. Nobody knows this person there. On what basis would that person be taken as someone belonging to the community? Stretching the scenario, how likely is it to impersonate a Jewish person and deceive others? If it is a man, wearing a yarmulke might serve as a visible, external, sign; but surely that is not enough. Is a newcomer examined somehow? What is checked in these cases? Are there "Jewish identity cards", or documents? That could show his affiliation to a synagogue or institution that could help verify one individual's claims, or a certificate of conversion if it is the case. If there is such document, how rude is it to ask that to a newcomer?

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    I wonder if answers to this question that are too detailed could be a security risk. There have been many attempts to impersonate Jews for nefarious purposes, and hate crimes against Jews are tens of times more common than against other religions, even in the United States. It is likely that someone who Googles "impersonating Jews" will find this page. Yet, to the questioner, I would advise just being honest about who you are. Dec 4, 2023 at 22:13
  • I am honest about who I am, and so I intend to be. I did not need that piece of advise, Ethan Leonard. I was not looking for answers so I can make decisions as to how to conduct myself. If at all, I was curious about how a millennia-long ethnicity deals with this issue, as I myself am confronted to frustrating challenges to my ethnicity: I believe I can satisfactorily claim that I am a Gascon, yet since I was not born in France some people dismiss my case much too easily. Sometimes even if I speak in Gascon I am taken as a romantic foreigner that went to the trouble of learning the language. Dec 4, 2023 at 22:43
  • There are a lot of specifics in your question that suggest you are looking to find out how specifically Jews identify Jews. There is no way the specifics you mentioned can be extended to other groups. Also, why would ANYONE ask for documents proving someone else is Gascon? How could that be relevant? Also, since everyone knows Jews are not an ethnicity, it can't be comparable. I suspect you want to be accepted as a Jew somewhere. (Besides, you haven't asked a similar question in any other stack exchange, which you would do if you were just interested in how ethnicities identify each other.) Dec 5, 2023 at 0:17
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    Not suspicious at all.
    – Menachem
    Dec 5, 2023 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


There’s no Jewish identity card! In theory, people who claim to be Jewish should generally be believed absent any specific reason to doubt them. For example, Rambam said (Hilchot Issurei Bi’ah 13:10) that somebody who claims to have converted to Judaism elsewhere is to be believed. In practice, though, standards vary. Some synagogues might demand varying levels of proof, whether a letter from a previous rabbi or a copy of the individual’s parents’ marriage certificate. Here is a detailed, though perhaps slightly dated, review of the Jewish law on this topic and its application in Reform synagogues.

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    Thanks, Zarka, for your prompt reply. The link you provide answers many of the issues I had in mind. Dec 4, 2023 at 22:10

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