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I seem to have Jewish ancestry, so could I be Jewish?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Jewish Identity » Who/What is a Jew? | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Question:


Dear Rabbi, For as far back as I can trace, my family never identified as being Jewish. Recently I discovered that my last name is a name common to Anusim (Moranos) - Jews who were forced to convert by the Spanish Inquisition. I have always felt a connection to Judaism and was wondering whether Anusim are Jewish and if that means I am Jewish? ---Eric1976


Answer:


Very interesting.

It is very likely that there are Jews in your family lineage, however, that alone is not enough to make you Jewish.


To be Jewish you need to KNOW that your maternal line (your mother, her mother, and her mother etc.) are all Jewish. If one doesn't know that for sure s/he can't be considered Jewish. If s/he wants to connect to the Jewish part of the family and be considered Jewish s/he must undergo a proper conversion to Judaism.


The original Anusim were definitely Jewish. The original Anusim, however, lived 500 years ago. For someone who doesn't practice Judaism (openly), and doesn't live in a Jewish community, for 500 years, it is quite impossible to assume that he never married a non-Jewish woman. And all you need is one non-Jewish woman in the maternal chain, and all the subsequent descendants are not Jewish.


So as it stands now you are not Jewish. But you still have a connection to "Judaism" because the Torah is the constitution of Judaism and the Torah has a mandate for ALL people.


The Torah teaches the Jew to follow the laws of Judaism, and it teaches the non-Jew to follow the Seven Noahide Laws. Read about "What are the Mitzvahs for a non-Jew" and see www.asknoah.org to learn more about these laws.



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RELATED CATEGORIES

Jewish Identity » Conversion
Jewish Identity » Non-Jews

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.