Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Who is A Jew?

Am I Jewish?


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Sivan 9, 5780
Hello. I have many Jewish roots on the maternal side, but I don’t know exactly who were Jews in my family, I only know that there were many Jews on the maternal side. Can I consider myself a Jew in this case?
ב"ה Shalom As much as I would like to help you, based on what you told me alone, I cannot give you a definitive answer to your question. As I have answered to a previous question by another person, being Jewish is not just a declaration of faith but it is a belonging to an unbroken chain of Jewish lineage. So if your maternal Grandmother was born Jewish as defined by Jewish law, since the lineage of the Jewish people is determined by the mother, it means your mother is Jewish and if that is the case you are Jewish too. But you may have to do a bit of investigating into family background to find out more. Are there any Jewish documents, marriage documents, family pictures with Jewish effects? Are any of you maternal ancestors buried in a Jewish cemetery? Having said all this, I surely don't want to create any misunderstandings that you are indeed Jewish, especially not over the internet. You should follow up with your questions to a local orthodox rabbi who would be able to assist you to look further into the matter. Good luck in your endeavors and all the best.
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