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My mother was adopted, raised as a reform Jew and became Bat Mitzvah, continued with her Jewish studies through Confirmation...but I do recall her finding out one day that her parents never officially 'converted' her as an infant. She was informed by an Orthodox friend, who had to unfortunately be the one to let her know that she wasn't allowed to participate in some ceremony within her community because she wasn't officially on-the-books Jewish, which led to her asking her adoptive parents about it, who then confessed they never officially converted her as an infant, but they believed her becoming Bat Mitzvah and getting Confirmed were enough for their own community, so why go through the trouble?

Flash forward to the future. I'm her (now adult) daughter, who was also raised in the Reform community. I also had the formal Jewish education and became Bat Mitzvah. I believe I can reasonably assume I am considered Jewish at least in the Reform community.

My question is--when I have children some day, will my female children be considered Jewish by descent, at least in the Reform community? At birth, I mean, before they become Bat Mitzvah or receive specific religious instruction? Like those who are technically Jewish under Halachaic practice despite never practicing Judaism (i.e. great-grandmother was Jewish in unbroken female line, but let's say the person was raised Catholic, this person is still considered Jewish under Halachah without officially converting because of the Jewish female ancestor in maternal line).

I suppose...am I "Jewish enough" for that matrilineal practice to come into play for my children? At least in the Reform community?

marked as duplicate by Double AA Feb 18 '15 at 5:28

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Please note that answers you receive here should only be used as guidance, and not a rabbinic ruling. Please do speak to your rabbi for a definitive ruling. Hope to see you around. – Scimonster Feb 15 '15 at 21:37
  • Hi @ConfusedDaughter. I just want to let you know that you posted your question on an Orthodox site, so most of the answers you get will have an Orthodox flavor. According to Orthodox law, your children will not be considered Jewish unless they have an official Orthodox conversion. I think Kordovero's answer is correct in terms of Reform. – SAH Feb 16 '15 at 8:45
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    @sah You are wrong. This is not an Orthodox site. Please don't misrepresent us. – Double AA Feb 16 '15 at 15:15
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    Is this a duplicate of our canonical post? cc @DoubleAA (That post can use a Reform-perspective answer, however.) – msh210 Feb 16 '15 at 20:06
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The Reform movement believes in patrilineal descent (at least of 1983, when it was a radical departure from thousands of years of traditional Judaism). So if your father is Jewish, then you would be considered Jewish by the Reform movement (but not the rest of Jewry) whether or not your mother is Jewish.

Whether your mother is Jewish according to Reform Judaism is a question for Reform clergy, since someone being adopted and raised Jewish despite never converting is an unusual case.

However, according to this website, the Reform movement requires conversion of adopted children in order for them to be considered Jewish. I'm not sure whether this is a universal view.

As you may be aware, you would not be considered Jewish by Conservative or Orthodox Judaism, because both require conversion according to Jewish law. Even if you and/or your children converted through Reform Judaism, this would not be considered valid by Orthodox Jews (and probably by most Conservative Jews).

This is because Reform conversions are not conducted according to Jewish law (with a beis din made up of three valid witnesses, acceptance of the yoke of all the mitzvos of the (Oral and Written) Torah, and immersion in a kosher mikvah). As an aside, many people have grown up thinking they were Jewish, then realized they weren't Jewish according to halacha, and ended up completing an Orthodox conversion. See this and this for interesting examples.

In any case, I wish you all the best with deciding what to do about clarifying your status!

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If there is a question about the legitimacy of your mother's status as a Jewess or not then an Orthodox Beis Din (court) will insist on at least a giyur l'chumra (a conversion to be stringent just to make sure), but in cases of adoption etc. especially coming from the Reform movement because of their disregard for Halacha especially in the areas of who is Jewish and marriage etc. they will most probably treat this case as a regular conversion. Either way an acceptance of all the mitzvos is necessary and it is an involved process.

And no, jumping in the mikvah on ones own accord doesn't work.

  • @ylub Why would it ever be a giyur l'chumra? Her mom wasn't even converted according to Reform. – SAH Feb 16 '15 at 8:47
  • @SAH אין הכי נמי – y.lub Feb 16 '15 at 13:37

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