I know that being Jewish is passed down maternally; however being a Kohen is passed down paternally. I was wondering in a theoretical situation, if a Kohen father were to have a child with a non-Jewish mother, what is the status of the child? I assume he wouldn't be Jewish, but is he still a Kohen? If he were to convert to Judaism, would he be considered a Kohen Jew, or would he be treated the same way as a Jew who didn't have a Kohen father?

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    The child of a Kohein and someone he can't marry is not a Kohein but a Challal. – Double AA Nov 30 '14 at 19:42
  • I apologize, but what is the definition of Challal? If a Challal were to convert, would he still be a "Challal" or would he be a Kohen? @DoubleAA – JosephG Nov 30 '14 at 19:44
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/36415/472 – Monica Cellio Nov 30 '14 at 20:33
  • @MonicaCellio Not a dupe? – Double AA Nov 30 '14 at 20:45
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    @MonicaCellio Might as well just separate them and edit out the dupe part. – Double AA Nov 30 '14 at 23:18

Kohanim need to be Jews first. The child of a non-Jewish woman is not a Jew, and thus cannot be a kohen. Even if a kohen marries a convert (which halacha forbids, but if he did), so his child is Jewish, that child is not a kohen. Marrying someone who isn't even Jewish could not produce a better result in terms of the child's status.

If the child converts he has no halachic relationship to his birth parents. Thus, his halachic father is not a kohen and so neither is he. Converts are "ben Avraham Avinu".

This article from Chabad discusses children of forbidden marriages with kohanim. It takes as a baseline that the women are Jewish (kohanim face special restrictions in marriage). If even those children have defective kohen status, how much the more so would non-Jewish children be blocked from that path?

  • "'Kohen' is a subset of 'Yisrael', that is, Jews." Isn't that what he's asking about? – Double AA Nov 30 '14 at 19:54
  • @DoubleAA I think he's asking if it's possible to be a non-Jewish kohen. – Monica Cellio Nov 30 '14 at 19:59
  • One additional question: If the non-Jewish child of a Kohen were to marry a Jew and have a child himself, I assume that the Jewish child is the descendant of a convert (paternally) and not a Kohen even though his paternal line is Kohen blood? – JosephG Nov 30 '14 at 20:00
  • @Jgolden1 His paternal line is not kohen blood. He has no paternal line at all, in fact. – Double AA Nov 30 '14 at 20:01
  • @Jgolden1 that's right; his children do not have kohen status. You can't pass on what you don't yourself possess. – Monica Cellio Nov 30 '14 at 20:01

He would be a Ger. Not a Kohein. Not a Levi. Not a Yisrael. A Ger. Gerim (converts) are not halachicly related to their biological "relatives". It's a clean slate.

It's worth noting that in general the offspring of a Kohein with a woman he can't marry are not Kohanim anyway, but Challalim.


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