Someone coming from a Jewish family but not halakhically Jewish (e.g., with a Jewish maternal grandfather but not grandmother) is converting through an an Orthodox conversion. That person then discovers her maternal grandfather's last name meant he was probably a Kohen.

Are there implications for the children or grandchildren of that person since children of Kohanim who married 'forbidden' women can be chalal? On the other side I heard conversion is like being reborn and family history doesn't apply.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya Madelyn. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting.
    – mbloch
    Dec 18, 2017 at 15:08
  • Since this site is not for personal questions, I allowed myself to edit yours to make it more general. If you disagree or wish to edit further, please do so using the edit button
    – mbloch
    Dec 18, 2017 at 15:09
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    – mbloch
    Dec 18, 2017 at 15:14
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    A similar question could be asked (and I think it has on this site) about someone who converts and has a Jewish father but a non-Jewish mother. Are they ben Avraham Avinu or ben [insert their Jewish father's name]? The answer is that they're ben Avraham. The same goes for a family who converts. The parents and children both convert, but they're all bnei Avraham veSarah, even the children whose parents converted and adopted Jewish names.
    – ezra
    Dec 18, 2017 at 21:39
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    I should point out that the name of the Jewish grandfather is not evidence that he was a kohen. My shul had three families named Cohen. One is a Kohen, one is a Levi, and one is a Yisrael. You would need to get better evidence. In any case you should change the question to be more general such as What if the person wanting to convert discovers that one of the grandfathers was a kohen who had a child with a nonJewish woman, would the convert be a *chalal* once he or she becomes Jewish? Dec 18, 2017 at 23:10

1 Answer 1


A "chalal" would be the Jewish product of a Kohen and someone a Kohen can't marry, such as a divorcee or a convert.

If someone is not Jewish, however, there is no room for any other halachic category on them; if they convert, the only halachic category they bear is "convert." (Well okay they could be "Edomite" convert or "Ammonite" convert, but we don't find those today.)

So if a kohen marries a definitely-non-Jewish woman, their children are just plain "not Jewish"; if they convert, they're just plain "converts"; there's no room here for the status of "chalal."

(Starting point for this is the last Mishna of Kiddushin Ch. 3 -- if a mamzer marries a non-Jewish woman, the children are just plain "not Jewish"; there's no room for the category of "Mamzer.")

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