I use the word "inferior" for want of a better word as it has negative connotations, try to disregard those connotations when reading the question.

I'm wondering if someone converts to Judaism, are they regarded as being "100% Jewish" and on the same level as someone who has been a Jew for life and actually has Jewish blood running through their veins? Or will they be forever prevented from becoming "Fully Jew" because they are not ethically Jewish?

Follow up question: If they are indeed considered to be fully Jew, does that mean that their children are considered "Ethnically Jewish"?

The reason I ask is because I've heard that there are some ancient Jewish communities in India and China, but they are ethnically Indian and Chinese. So I'm wondering "Are these guys the real deal? Are they considered 100% authentic Jews?"

  • 1
    See this answer: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/78870/8775. To translate the bolded portions of Hebrew text from Maimonides to a convert: "There is no difference between us and you...For Creator has already chosen you and separated you from the nations, and given you the Torah, for the Torah is for us and the converts as scripture states 'the congregation; one law shall be for you and to the resident convert, an eternal statute for your generations, like you shall the convert be before God' "
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 13, 2017 at 5:58
  • In general, Maimonides minimises the biological component that Jews have. In this he famously diverges from R. Yehuda HaLevi's Kuzari which makes a bigger deal about the uniqueness of the Jews in inherited traits. Even Rambam can agree that just as any family can have distinctive traits, the Jews as a whole can transmit national tendencies. R. Shilat has written an article (Hebrew) comparing and contrasting Rambam and the Kuzari on this. Depending on the ethnic component of Jews, will be the degree of difference of converts.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 13, 2017 at 6:02
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    Regarding So I'm wondering "Are these guys the real deal? Are they considered 100% authentic Jews?" If they are halakhically Jewish, then the general question of the role of converts (addressed in the previous two comments) would become relevant. If they are not halakhically Jewish, then the above question would be irrelevant. | It should be noted that besides for Chinese Jews, such as the Kaifeng Jews, the medieval period alone, saw Jews in Many parts of Europe, North Africa, The Mediterranean basin, and the Arabian Peninsula; Obviously not a homogeneous group.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 13, 2017 at 6:07
  • I think that there are non Jewish persons who are tsadik and JP who are rasha, the firsts are superior to the lasts
    – kouty
    Feb 13, 2017 at 8:40
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    Answers to this question could be in two veins: Legal, in which there are a few minor ramifications and several protections set forth in the Pentateuch for converts, and Cultural, in which there are unfortunately schools of thought that result in treating converts with secondary status.
    – Baby Seal
    Feb 13, 2017 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


Note the Mishnah in Horayos 13a:

כהן קודם ללוי. לוי לישראל. ישראל לממזר. וממזר לנתין. ונתין לגר. וגר לעבד משוחרר. אימתי בזמן שכולן שוין. אבל אם היה ממזר תלמיד חכם. וכהן גדול עם הארץ. ממזר תלמיד חכם. קודם לכהן גדול עם הארץ:

A Kohen comes before a Levi, who comes before a Yisrael, who comes before a Mamzer, who comes before a Nasin, who comes before a Geir, who comes before a freed slave. When is this? When they are all equal. But between a Mamzer Talmid Chacham and a Kohen Gadol Am Haaretz, the Mamzer Talmid Chacham comes before the Kohen Gadol Am Haaretz.

Also, the Gemara in Kiddushin 75a notes that a geir may marry a mamzeres, something a born-Jew may not do.

Do note the passuk quoted in @ezra's answer that one may not put down a geir. To paraphrase the Mishnah BM 58b, one violates Ona'as Devarim by reminding a geir of his sinful past.

  • The Mishnah says the child of a ger, not the ger himself. The first gemara there brings a baraisa that differentiates between a BT, the child of a ger and the ger himself with the first two lining up with the Mishnah.
    – Y K
    Feb 13, 2017 at 21:18
  • Last lines of the amud say that ten generations of converts can marry mamzeiros. After that point it's forgotten that they come from geirim and they are assur. Can't get much clearer than that.
    – DonielF
    Feb 13, 2017 at 22:30
  • How does a Ger have a sinful past if they weren't jewish before they converted? (They're not a baal teshuvah)
    – yitzih
    Feb 16, 2017 at 16:44
  • @yitzih You're right - I used a somewhat imprecise lashon. The wording of the Mishnah is "remember what your fathers did," and the wording of the Braisa is "how can a mouth that previously ate treif now speak Torah given from Hashem's mouth?"
    – DonielF
    Feb 16, 2017 at 16:59

Aside from the things mentioned in other responses, Maimonides says in Melachim 1:4

A king should not be appointed from converts to Judaism. This applies even if the convert's ancestors had been Jewish for many generations, unless his mother [or father1] is a native-born Israelite, as Deuteronomy 17:15 states: 'You may not appoint a foreigner who is not one of your brethren.'

This does not apply to the monarchy alone, but to all positions of authority within Israel. A convert may not serve as an army commander, a leader of fifty, or as a leader of ten. He may not even supervise the allocation of water from a stream to various fields.

Needless to say, a judge or a nasi should only be a native-born Israelite, as it is stated (ibid.): 'Appoint a king over you from among your brethren.' This implies that all appointments must only be 'from your brethren.'

The specifics of how and when this applies is discussed in various sources.

This also answers your second question of how it applies to their children. Once one of the parents are a native Jew, the prohibition doesn't apply. So coming from an ethnically Chinese (or other) background wouldn't matter so long as somewhere down the line one of the parents was ethnically Jewish.

In addition to what DonielF and Ezra wrote about Ona'as Devarim by a convert, I'll also point out that the Gemara in Bava Metzia 59a says that one who commits Ona'as Devarim to a convert transgresses three prohibitions: the regular prohibition that applies to all Jews, plus to additional ones in Shemos 22:2 and Vayikra 19:33.


I see no better answer to this question than Leviticus 19:4:

כְּאֶזְרָח מִכֶּם יִהְיֶה לָכֶם הַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶם, וְאָהַבְתָּ לוֹ כָּמוֹךָ--כִּי-גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם, בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם

The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

(Translation taken from mechon-mamre.org)

This verse clearly outlines that we should treat those who convert to Judaism in no way different to those who are born into the religion. That is, we should not remind the convert that he converted. He should be treated with the same respect as a native-born Jew.

There are, however, certain positions a convert may not hold. For instance, he may not be a king over the Jewish People, and a convert can not marry a Cohen. But this does not keep a convert from becoming a rabbi or holding a position in a Jewish relgious court.

The children of a female convert are considered 100% Jewish and do not need to undergo conversion, that is, as long as their mother converted before they were born.

You might be interested in this question, as it deals with conversion and who is considered Jewish, as well as this question and answer.

  • It's definitely a start. Consider that there are halachos that diverge between a born Jew and a convert as a foil to the fact that we are explicitly exhorted against the mistreatment of a convert... Feb 13, 2017 at 13:52
  • Why the downvote?
    – ezra
    Feb 13, 2017 at 15:57
  • 2
    @ezra Because this answer is wrong. We do treat converts different from native born Jews.
    – Double AA
    Feb 13, 2017 at 17:51
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    "this does not keep a convert from becoming a rabbi or holding a position in a Jewish relgious court." this is not strictly true. converts can only be judges on a court that judges other converts. i'm getting the sense you are confusing generalities you've heard about the importance of not mistreating converts with details of the actual halakhot. I don't think we misunderstood you about "we treat him no way differently"; there is only one way to understand that sentence. to claim there is no better answer than that verse is silly.
    – Double AA
    Feb 15, 2017 at 23:21
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    "are considered 100% Jewish" this may be but they still might not be allowed to marry a kohein, depending on their father. things are just more complicated than you seem to be presenting.
    – Double AA
    Feb 15, 2017 at 23:23

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