May (or should) a convert recite kaddish after his biological parents' deaths?

I think the answer is that yes, he may do so out of respect for them (even though, in a strict halachic sense, he is no longer "related" to them - he still owes them basic respect (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 241:9)).

But does anyone have any sources pro or con?

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    Kaddish for a Gentile * Sefer Chasidim, no. 790 * Responsa Maharik, no. 44 * Yechaveh Da'as 6:60 * Be-Ohalah Shel Torah 1:60 – not-allowed to change my name Apr 29 '13 at 0:59
  • Adding questions with the premise of should I opens the door to error. – user5383 May 6 '14 at 15:10
  • How would he not be related to them anymore? Does a convert have to cut ties with family members in some way after conversion? – Daft Dec 1 '14 at 17:19

The Rambam in Hilchos Avel 2:3 says that a Ger is not obligated to mourn for either of his parents. This is so because someone who is aGer is considered as if he is reborn, and therefore has no Halachic relationship to his parents (Yevamos 22a; Bava Kamma 88a). The Beis Yosef (Yoreh De'ah 374) quotes the Mordechai in the name of the Ri that a convert must mourn for his mother, but the Rema in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 374:5 explicitly disagrees with this view.

Sefer Chassidim from Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid says that one may pray for the soul of a gentile who saved Jews in times of persecution and crisis. Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Yechaveh Da'as Vol 6 Responsa 60) rules that a Ger may say Kaddish for his parents and brings a variety of sources.

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  • Excellent answer! I know it's been a long time since you wrote it, but I don't suppose you have the source from Sefer Chasidim? I'd like to be able to see that passage inside. – Shimon bM Dec 26 '12 at 23:12
  • Were you thinking of §981-2? – Shimon bM Dec 26 '12 at 23:30

I am a convert and have learned both opinions. My late Rav, Rabbi Gedaliah Anemer, zt'l, held in accordance with the Rema. I did not sit shiva for my father or say the kaddish for him. However, Rabbi Yitzhok Breitowitz, shlita, told me that because there are "chashuvah" poskim who hold otherwise, e.g. Rav Ovadiah Yosef, the response should be based on whether my biological parent would appreciate it if he/she knew that I was saying kaddish in their memory. When Rabbi Maurice Lamm republished my Baltimore Jewish Times story of my own conversion, in his book "Becoming a Jew," he cut out my statement that I could not sit shiva or say kaddish for my parents, either in recognition of the controversy, or because he disagreed with the opinion.

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    Hi Bruce James, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for bringing your personal perspective here! I look forward to seeing you around. – Double AA Dec 26 '12 at 15:33
  • @BruceJames Thanks for this. Are you able to comment on yizkor for non-Jewish parents? judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/37704/… – SAH Feb 26 '18 at 2:47

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