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Please solve an arguement about being "Jewish"

(36 Posts)
stickyj Thu 11-Aug-11 21:08:01

My grandmother was Jewish. According to Jewish law, am I "Jewish"? I think that it passes down in through the female line, am I right? How do I square this with my DS2 who thinks it's all bull? I have said to him that if he gets married and has a female child, she will be of the Jewish line. He is horrified because he is a very strongly practising Baptist.

Who's right or wrong? I just watched the June brown programme and feel exactly how she does, even tho I go to the same church as my son. I would love to learn more about my heritage, especially my great, great grandmothers who were born in London, (where all my family are from).

Any hepl please?

said Thu 11-Aug-11 21:11:53

Well, if it passes though the female line, wouldn't the mother of his child have to be Jewish? I've never really understood this, tbh, since a non-Jewish woman could become/convert (correct terminology?) and then her children would be Jewish. But, what does "being Jewish" mean in that context?

timidviper Thu 11-Aug-11 21:12:41

If it passes through the female line then surely it wouldn't pass through your DS would it? Seeing as he isn't female that is. Having said that I'm not jewish so no expert.

I think any true religion is a state of mind, a conscious decision, so your DS can make his own choice.

Desiderata Thu 11-Aug-11 21:13:10

What does being Jewish mean in any context?

Why not just enjoy the fact that a family member was Jewish, and leave it at that?

TheseThingsAreGoodThings Thu 11-Aug-11 21:19:50

It's passed down the female line. So your DS would technically be considered Jewish but only if the Jewish ancestor was your mothers mother.

As he is not female, his kids would not be born Jews

Tee2072 Thu 11-Aug-11 21:24:24

You are Jewish if your mother was Jewish.

If your grandmother was your father's mother, you are not Jewish.

Your son's children will not be Jewish.

midnightexpress Thu 11-Aug-11 21:32:29

your son's children will only be Jewish if their mother is Jewish, and you are only Jewish if your mother was also Jewish. So if it's your dad's mum who was Jewish, then you aren't. My MIL is Jewish, so DP is too, but our children aren't.

Apparently, it is a way of ensuring the continuity of the Jewish line. If a Jewish man's wife is unfaithful with a non-Jew, and has children by the OM, the children will still be Jewish, even though their father isn't. Or something.
<disclaimer: I'm not Jewish so may well be talking bollocks>

AMumInScotland Thu 11-Aug-11 21:35:41

In any event, he shouldn't be "horrified" if you are Jewish by that definition. After all, so was Jesus (by any definition come to that!). If he is genuinely horrified, he needs to have a look at his feelings and sort them out.

AbsDuCroissant Thu 11-Aug-11 21:42:42

As others said, if it she was your maternal grandmother, you're Jewish and your son is Jewish. His children, however, won't be (unless their mother is Jewish).

It was introduced around the time of the Babylonian exile (though some argue before) after many Jewish women were raped by the Babylonians, and they wanted to make sure that the offspring were Jewish (as they weren't sure of parentage). However, other things (like whether you are Sephardi or Ashkenazi, whether or not you're a Cohen - a priest, not the surname) is patrilineal.

If a woman converts - yes, her children would be. It might be easier to compare it to nationality rather than ethnicity - if you become a citizen of x country, then your children will be citizens of that country as well.

stickyj Thu 11-Aug-11 21:49:06

Sorry, he's not horrified about being Jewish, obviously we both know Jesus was a Jew and practised etc..He doesn't believe the thing that I heard that if your Grandmother was of the Jewish faith ( we don't know if practising/non practising) then the line automatically goes down HTH

Tee2072 Thu 11-Aug-11 21:50:27

Is the Grandmother your mother's mother or your father's? Because if it's your father's, you are not Jewish.

stickyj Thu 11-Aug-11 21:57:21

I have always been aware of the Jewish faith as many of the girls I went to school with were practising Jews and would tell me about their faith and customs. However, I also now realise that I never ate at any of their houses and they never came to mine to eat. Their parents were incredibly "family based" if that sounds right and being an only child, I envied the sense of "family" they had, all of them together and sharing special meals that all my friends spoke of.

Due to other circumstances, I have now discovered my "family" and would like to trace my Jewish roots. I know my Mum would too, but it's difficult to find out when most older members of the family have gone.

alemci Thu 11-Aug-11 21:58:40

Unfortunately the Nazi party in Germany didn't see it that way I don't think. My dad's mum was Jewish and it really upsets me to think what would have happened if I had been born in the 30's in Germany.

I am not trying to cause upset or offence by my above comment.

I consider myself to have Jewish blood.

stickyj Thu 11-Aug-11 21:59:03

I think that my Grandmother was jewish, accorging to my mum, her name was ....Lovell and I'm trying to trace her. Does that make me and my daughter "Jewish"? Am so interested in this x

stickyj Thu 11-Aug-11 22:00:43

Sorry, didn't want to cause offence to anyone. Just a basic question, does being Jewish run through the female line, even tho those people are not practising Jews, if that makes sense?

breatheslowly Thu 11-Aug-11 22:01:09

Is it possible to stop being Jewish if you are born to a Jewish mother? If you cease to believe and practise then can you define yourself to being non-Jewish or is it like ethnicity where you can't stop being white or black or what ever? It's really odd because it is a bit like ethnicity, but doesn't seem to have the same options to be mixed ethnicity. If someone's a Jewish female line decendent but the knowledge that they were Jewish 5 generations ago and no one has practised in 100 years, are they still Jewish.

AbsDuCroissant Thu 11-Aug-11 22:03:12

So your mother's mother? Then yes, you and your children are all Jewish.

InvaderZim Thu 11-Aug-11 22:03:21

A Jewish person wouldn't consider your son Jewish because YOU are not Jewish. My mother converted to Judaism before my brother was born but reverted to Protestant before I was born. I would generally not be considered Jewish but my brother might be.

Ivortheengine8 Thu 11-Aug-11 22:04:07

My grandmother was Jewish too and therfore yes my father was 'Jewish' although he did not practice it.
A few years ago however one of my sisters converted (she had to convert because mum was not Jewish) and married a Jewish man. My sister had to study for about 2 years before she converted and now lives in Israel with her family.
None of the rest of us would be considered Jewish.

Ivortheengine8 Thu 11-Aug-11 22:06:17

sticky, My sister will not eat at our house either but she does let us eat at hers as she has prepared the food herself. I think it depends on how strict they are.

AbsDuCroissant Thu 11-Aug-11 22:07:41

InvaderZim - depends on how/where she converted. some authorities believe that once you've converted, that's it; you're Jewish for life (and your offspring if you're a woman), you can't undo it. It's part of the reason why the orthodox conversion process is so difficult, because you should be aware of what you're taking on and that it's something that's forever and affects future generations. You have many people who are considered Jewish because of parentage etc., aren't at all practicing (I know many who are atheists), but they're still Jewish.

travailtotravel Thu 11-Aug-11 22:12:12

Judaism is matrilinear, so if your mother was not Jewish you are not Jewish. If your son marries a Jew, their children will be Jewish, otherwise not.

June Brown commented that she was Shephardic because her great grandfather was. That was incorrect and should perhaps have been clarified in the programme.

midnightexpress Fri 12-Aug-11 09:29:14

travail, I think abs said earlier that which tribe of Judaism you belong to does come down through the male line though? Is that right? If so, then she would surely be right to say she's Shephardic because her great-grandfather was. Assuming that the Judaism itself came down through the female line also (I didn't see the programme).

AbsDuCroissant Fri 12-Aug-11 10:14:15

It's hard to say whether or not what she said was accurate. She was Jewish, as it came from her mother's side, but it depends on whether or not certain grandparents/great grandparents etc. were Sephardi or Ashkenazi as to whether or not she is Sephardi (and they didn't go into that much detail on the show).

InvaderZim Fri 12-Aug-11 17:21:41

Abs true, and my mother certainly didn't convert to anything remotely resembling Orthodoxy - it was my father's condition for marrying her (she asked him).

You can be considered culturally/ethnically Jewish without being religious (my dad's an atheist, but he still considers himself Jewish), which is probably where the June Brown programme was coming from.

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