Ask the Rabbi

  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Principles of Mitzva Observance

Cultural Practices


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 1, 5781
I have several questions I have is there is an argument going around that even though I have Jewish heritage I am not allowed to practice Judaism bc I wasnt raised in as a Jew. Is this true? Secondly I am already circumcised what would be the process of conversion since I am already circumcised? If conversion to the full law isnt necessary is it possible for me to observe the Noahide laws since I was raised as a Gentile?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The status of a person, as a Jew or not, is dependent on their lineage from their mother. A person is only a Jew if the matrilineal line (mother’s mother’s mother etc) were all Jewish. If one of these mother’s was not Jewish, then a person is not considered as Jewish according to Jewish law. In many cases where the heritage is not clear, a person may have to undergo a conversion in order to clarify their status. This is true also if the lineage is clearly not Jewish. In either case the fact that a person has a circumcision will not lessen the need to convert (although on a practical level it can make the conversion easier). So, you should turn to an Orthodox Rabbi in person in order to sit down with them and clarify your status. You may be Jewish, doubtfully Jewish or clearly not Jewish. In any event, the Rabbi will be more than happy to guide you in the next step. Blessings.
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