What's the status of the offspring of a Jewish woman who converted to another religion (knowing the woman herself nonetheless remains Jewish)? Are they still Jewish?
Welcome to MiYodeya. Hope to see you around!– mblochApr 3, 2018 at 12:01
Someone born of a Jewish mother remains Jewish whatever they do.
See See https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/601092/jewish/Why-Is-Jewishness-Matrilineal.htm#footnoteRef1a601092
The second citation is incorrect. The examples of nonJewish women marrying Jewish men were cases before the Torah was given at Sinai or in which the women converted before marriage. Apr 3, 2018 at 11:36
See Can a Jew lose their Jewish Status? which explains why a Jew who tries to convert to another religion is still a Jew though a sinner. As a result, (see "Am I Jewish?") the child of a woman who converts is still Jewish, though the child of a Jewish man with a nonJewish woman is not Jewish, whether the man converted or not.
A Jew remains a Jew, no matter what, even if he converts to another religion. A Jew is defined by someone who is born of a Jewish mother, or someone who converted to Judaism through a Orthodox Bais Din and a Mikveh for a woman, or a Orthodox Bais Din, Mikveh and circumcision for a man. Therefore, in your case, even though the mother converted to another religion, her children are still Jewish, because she is Jewish herself (that didn't change when she converted, whether she likes it or not). So, her children "receive all the priveleges thereof" of a full-born Jew.
(She herself, too, has all the rights as a full-born Jew, despite her conversion, if she does Teshuvah.)
The children of a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman, however, are NOT Jewish, even if the man didn't convert out of Judaism. The mother must be Jewish to have Jewish children, this is the way Orthodox Halacha works.
In biblical times it went through the father. The rabbis changed this Torah rule. Why? No body knows. Oct 6, 2021 at 6:53
@TurkHill The tradition of matrilineal descent goes as far back as Ezra HaSofer, see Sefer Ezra where Ezra rules the children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers are not Jewish.– ezraOct 10, 2021 at 22:31
yes, but prior to Ezra, there was no such rule. Oct 11, 2021 at 2:57
@TurkHill What makes you assume that?– ezraOct 11, 2021 at 4:04
There is a lot of evidence and biblical evidence that matrilineal descent was a later development. The original Torah was deeply conservative (no adding, no subtracting), one’s Israelite identity was determined by one’s father’s lineage. The Torah makes it clear: מִשְׁפַּט אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לָכֶם, כַּגֵּר כָּאֶזְרָח יִהְיֶה כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. “You shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for the native-born; for I am the YHWH your G-d.'- Oct 11, 2021 at 18:23