If a Cohen or Levi adopts a non-Jew, upon their conversion are they a Cohen or Levi as well or are they a Yisroel?

3 Answers 3


A convert is ben/bat Avraham (v'Sarah) -- not ben/bat the adoptive parents and also not ben/bat the birth parents, halachically speaking. If he doesn't even get his adoptive father's name, it seems unlikely that he would get his tribe.

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    The same is true if the adoptee is Jewish, incidentally. Although the child can claim the adoptive parents names as part of his or her own, the child is not a blood relative. So unless you know for certain who the genetic father is, the adoptee is assumed to be Yisroel.
    – Martha F.
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 22:07
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    As a matter of fact, the ger can be called by the adoptive father's name but not the tribe. Reuven ben Yaakov Halevi adopts a child (Yonah) as a ger. The child is called to the Torah as Yonah ben Reuven, while Reuven is called Reuven ben Yaakov Halevi. This is an actual case with made up names and applies even if both are being called for an aliyah. Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 15:17

They are neither a Cohen nor a Levi nor a Yisrael. They are a Ger. Gerim are a different status as evidenced by the list of different ancestral statuses in the Mishna in Kiddushin 4:1, and by certain rules pertaining to them such as their ability to marry a mamzer, and their inability to marry a Cohen (Rambam Issurei Biah 15:7 and 18:3).

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    I think ger/Yisrael is orthogonal. If gerim wern't Yisrael then they'd never be able to get aliyot, for instance, but clearly they do. Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 21:41
  • @Monica: true in that sense, but they are considered different groups regarding marital rules and some other halachos, as per the sources that DoubleAA cited.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 22:03
  • @MonicaCellio You also assume the aliyot are for yisraels. Maybe they are for non-kohein/levis
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 22:15
  • @DoubleAA, ok, I was taught kohein/levi/yisrael for aliyot, but I don't have a source so maybe that was a simplification. Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 22:44
  • @MonicaCellio I would call it a generalization and an appropiate one at that to avoid "calling out" gerim. Simplification makes it sound like a bad thing to do.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 0:46

They would become ישראלים, that is, neither a kohen nor a levi.

Converts to Judaism cannot merge into a family: all are created equal.

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    A source would be nice (though FWIW I'm quite sure this is correct to the extent it answers the question).
    – msh210
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 3:23
  • @msh210, This doesn't really need a source. A gentile cannot convert if he is a halachic minor. (Unless, theoretically, he converts with a parent; but if the question is one of adoption, it's not really relevant.) Once he reaches halachic majority, then there is anyway no reason why he should be connected to the family that he lived with as a child.
    – jake
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 6:47
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    @jake, the answer AFAICT is saying the convert does not gain the kohen or levi status of his adoptive family. That's what I sought a source for (though, again, I don't doubt it).
    – msh210
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 6:53

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