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I think I have Jewish ancestors; am I Jewish?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Question: 

Last year I discovered that several of my ancestors on my mother's side of the family were Sephardic Jews . Since I found this fact out , I've been reading a great deal about the Jewish people . I study the Torah every day and I pray for Israel and all the Jewish people everywhere . I am a devout Catholic . I do not wish to convert to Judaism . My question is : Am I a Jew or not ?

Answer:

This is a common discovery/dilemma.

According to Jewish law in order to be considered Jewish you must prove that your mother, as well as her mother, as well her mother etc. was Jewish. If she and her family lived in and were part of a Jewish community for "as long as we can remember" (i.e. 3-4 generations) that is sufficient proof that she is Jewish. However, if she (or her family) was not part of a Jewish community, you need to present some documented proof that she is in fact Jewish.

Merely "hearing" about distant Jewish ancestry is not sufficient proof, and having "Jewish blood" in the family doesn't make one Jewish (See Can DNA prove Jewish-ness?). All it takes is one matriarch somewhere in the family history that isn't Jewish and all subsequent generations follow her identity: not Jewish.

There must therefore be substantial evidence that one's matrilineal line is Jewish.

Until you make such a discovery I suggest you continue pursuing the Torah's guide for non-Jews, known as the Noahide Laws.

See Asknoah.org and read the book "The Path of the Righteous Gentile".


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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.
Sephardic
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.