Inherited Jewish status – does it follow the mother or the father?

 

1. Genesis 24: 1 – 4

א וְאַבְרָהָם זָקֵן בָּא בַּיָּמִים וַיהוָֹה בֵּרַךְ אֶת־אַבְרָהָם בַּכֹּל: ב וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל־עַבְדּוֹ זְקַן בֵּיתוֹ הַמּשֵׁל בְּכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ שִׂים־נָא יָדְךָ תַּחַת יְרֵכִי: ג וְאַשְׁבִּיעֲךָ בַּיהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וֵאלֹהֵי הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר לֹא־תִקַּח אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי מִבְּנוֹת הַכְּנַעֲנִי אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי יוֹשֵׁב בְּקִרְבּוֹ: ד כִּי אֶל־אַרְצִי וְאֶל־מוֹלַדְתִּי תֵּלֵךְ וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי לְיִצְחָק:

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and Adonai had blessed Abraham in all things. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by Adonai, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.’

2. Genesis 41:45

מה וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה שֵׁם־יוֹסֵף צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ וַיִּתֶּן־לוֹ אֶת־אָסְנַת בַּת־פּוֹטִי פֶרַע כֹּהֵן אֹן לְאִשָּׁה וַיֵּצֵא יוֹסֵף עַל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:

Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenat daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

3. Deuteronomy 7: 3 – 4

ג וְלֹא תִתְחַתֵּן בָּם בִּתְּךָ לֹא־תִתֵּן לִבְנוֹ וּבִתּוֹ לֹא־תִקַּח לִבְנֶךָ: ד כִּי־יָסִיר אֶת־בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי וְעָבְדוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וְחָרָה אַף־יְהוָֹה בָּכֶם וְהִשְׁמִידְךָ מַהֵר:

Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for that would turn away your son from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

4. Rashi

כִּי יָסִיר אֶת בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי. בְּנוֹ שֶׁל כְּנַעֲנִי כְּשֶׁיִּשָּׂא אֶת בִּתְּךָ,”יָסִיר אֶת בִּנְךָ” אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵד לוֹ בִּתְּךָ “מֵאַחֲרַי”. לָמַדְנוּ שֶׁבֶּן בִּתְּךָ הַבָּא מִן הַכְּנַעֲנִי קָרוּי “בִּנְךָ”, אֲבָל בֶּן בִּנְךָ הַבָּא מִן הַכְּנַעֲנִית אֵינוֹ קָרוּי בִּנְךָ, אֶלָּא בְּנָהּ, שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא נֶאֱמַר עַל “בִּתּוֹ לֹא תִקַּח” “כִּי תָסִיר אֶת בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי”, אֶלָּא “כִּי יָסִיר אֶת בִּנְךָ וְגוֹמֵר” (יבמות כג ע”א ;קידושין סח ע”ב):

“For he will turn away your son from me.” The son of a Canaanite who marries your daughter. “He will turn away your son” – but it does not say “he will turn away your daughter from me”. Learn then that the son of your daughter even from a gentile is called your son, whereas your son who is born from a Canaanite woman is not called your son, but her son.

5. Ezra 4: 1-4

א וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ צָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבִנְיָמִן כִּי־בְנֵי הַגּוֹלָה בּוֹנִים הֵיכָל לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: ב וַיִּגְּשׁוּ אֶל־זְרֻבָּבֶל וְאֶל־רָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת וַיֹּאמְרוּ לָהֶם נִבְנֶה עִמָּכֶם כִּי כָכֶם נִדְרוֹשׁ לֵאלֹהֵיכֶם וְלוֹ ׀ אֲנַחְנוּ זֹבְחִים מִימֵי אֵסַר חַדֹּן מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר הַמַּעֲלֶה אֹתָנוּ פֹּה: ג וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם זְרֻבָּבֶל וְיֵשׁוּעַ וּשְׁאָר רָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא־לָכֶם וָלָנוּ לִבְנוֹת בַּיִת לֵאלֹהֵינוּ כִּי אֲנַחְנוּ יַחַד נִבְנֶה לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּנוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ כּוֹרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ־פָּרָס: ד וַיְהִי עַם־הָאָרֶץ מְרַפִּים יְדֵי עַם־יְהוּדָה וּמְבַהֲלִים אוֹתָם לִבְנוֹת:

1. And when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the sons of the exiles were building the temple for the Lord God of Israel;
2. They came to Zerubbabel, and to the chiefs of the fathers’ houses and said to them, Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as you do; and we have sacrificed to him since the days of Esar-Haddon, king of Assyria, who brought us up here.
3. And Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chiefs of the fathers’ houses of Israel, said to them, You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves alone will build to the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.
4. And the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build.

6. Ezra 10: 11 – 12

יא וְעַתָּה תְּנוּ תוֹדָה לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי־אֲבֹתֵיכֶם וַעֲשׂוּ רְצוֹנוֹ וְהִבָּדְלוּ מֵעַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ וּמִן־הַנָּשִׁים הַנָּכְרִיּוֹת: יב וַיַּעְנוּ כָל־הַקָּהָל וַיֹּאמְרוּ קוֹל גָּדוֹל כֵּן כִּדְבָרְיךָ עָלֵינוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת:

11. Now make confession to the Lord the God of your ancestors, and do his will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.’ 12. Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, ‘It is so; we must do as you have said.’

7. Mishnah Kiddushin 3.12-13

יב כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ קִדּוּשִׁין וְאֵין עֲבֵרָה, הַוָּלָד הוֹלֵךְ אַחַר הַזָּכָר. וְאֵיזֶה, זוֹ כֹהֶנֶת לְוִיָּה וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִית שֶׁנִּשֵּאת לְכֹהֵן וּלְלֵוִי וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ קִדּוּשִׁין וְיֵשׁ עֲבֵרָה, הַוָּלָד הוֹלֵךְ אַחַר הַפָּגוּם. וְאֵיזוֹ, זוֹ אַלְמָנָה לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל, גְּרוּשָׁה וַחֲלוּצָה לְכֹהֵן הֶדְיוֹט, מַמְזֶרֶת וּנְתִינָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמַמְזֵר וּלְנָתִין. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵין לָהּ עָלָיו קִדּוּשִׁין אֲבָל יֶשׁ לָהּ עַל אֲחֵרִים קִדּושִׁין, הַוָּלָד מַמְזֵר. וְאֵיזֶה, זֶה הַבָּא עַל אַחַת מִכָּל הָעֲרָיוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵין לָהּ לֹא עָלָיו וְלֹא עַל אֲחֵרִים קִדּוּשִׁין, הַוָּלָד כְמוֹתָהּ. וְאֵיזֶה, זֶה וְלַד שִׁפְחָה וְנָכְרִית:
יג רַבִּי טַרְפוֹן אוֹמֵר, יְכוֹלִין מַמְזֵרִים לִטָּהֵר. כֵּיצַד. מַמְזֵר שֶׁנָּשָׂא שִׁפְחָה, הַוָּלָד עָבֶד. שִׁחְרְרוֹ, נִמְצָא הַבֵּן בֶּן חוֹרִין. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, הֲרֵי זֶה עֶבֶד מַמְזֵר:

Wherever there is kiddushin and there is no transgression, the issue follows the status of the male: such is the case when the daughter of a priest, a Levite or an Israelite is married to a priest, a Levite or an Israelite. But wherever there is kiddushin and there is transgression, the issue follows the status of the inferior; this is the case when a widow is married to a high priest, or a divorced woman or a haluzah to an ordinary priest, or a mamzeret or a netinah to an Israelite, and the daughter of an israelite to a mamzer or a natin. And whatever woman who cannot contract kiddushin with that particular person but can contract kiddushin with another person, the issue is mamzer. This is the case when one has intercourse with any relation prohibited in the Torah. And whatever woman who can not contract kiddushin with that particular person or with others, the issue follows her status. This is the case with the issue of a bondmaid or a gentile woman.

8. Mishnah Yevamot 7:5

ה בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל לַכֹּהֵן, בַּת כֹּהֵן לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיָלְדָה הֵימֶנּוּ בֵן, וְהָלַךְ הַבֵּן וְנִכְבַּשׁ עַל הַשִּׁפְחָה, וְיָלְדָה הֵימֶנּוּ בֵן, הֲרֵי זֶה עֶבֶד. .. בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל לַכֹּהֵן, וּבַת כֹּהֵן לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיָלְדָה הֵימֶנּוּ בַת, וְהָלְכָה הַבַּת וְנִשֵּׂאת לָעֶבֶד, אוֹ לַגּוֹי, וְיָלְדָה הֵימֶנּוּ
בֵן, הֲרֵי זֶה מַמְזֵר:

If an Israelite girl was married to a priest, or the daughter of a priest to an Israelite; if she bear him a son, and the son goes and has a relationship with a bondmaid, and she bear him a son, then the son is classified as a slave…if an Israelite girl was married to a priest, or the daughter of a priest to an Israelite: if she bear him a daughter, and the daughter goes and a marries a slave or a gentile, and she bear him a son, then the son is classified as a mamzer.

9. Tosefta Kiddushin 4:16

גוי ועבד הבאו על בת ישראל והולידה בן הולד ממזר ר’ שמעון בן יהודה אומ’ משם ר’ שמעון אין ממזר אלא מן האשה שאיסורה איסור ערוה וחייבין עליה כרת

A gentile or a slave who has relations with an Israelite girl, and she bear a son, the offspring is classified as a mamzer. But Rabbi Shimon ben Yehudah says in the name of Rabbi Shimon, a mamzer can only be born to a woman with whom a relationship is prohibited [by the Torah], and for for which the punishment is karet [“that soul shall be cut off from his people”].

10. Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 68B

א”ר יוחנן משום ר”ש בן יוחי, דאמר קרא:”כי יסיר את בנך מאחרי” , בנך הבא מישראלית קרוי בנך, ואין בנך הבא מן העובדת כוכבים קרוי בנך אלא בנה. אמר רבינא, ש”מ: בן בתך הבא מן העובד כוכבים קרוי בנך.

Said Rabbi Yochanan on behalf of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai.: ‘Because Scripture says (Deuteronomy) “He will turn away your son from following me,” your son by an Israelite woman is called your son, but your son by a woman star worshipper is not called your son but her son.’ Said Ravina: ‘Learn from this: the son of your daughter by a star worshipper is called your son.’

11. Jerusalem Talmud Kiddushin 3:14 64d

יעקב איש כפר נבורייא אזל לצור אתון שאלון ליה מהו מיגזור ברה דארמייתא בשבתא וסבר למישרי להון מן הדא ויתיילדו על משפחותם לבית אבותם שמע רבי חגיי אמ’ ייתי וילקי אמר ליה מהיכן את מלקיני אמר ליה מן הדין ועתה נכרות ברית להוציא כל הנשים הנכריות והנולד מהן וגו’ אמר ליה ומן הקבלה את מלקיני אמר ליה וכתורה יעשה אמר ליה מן הדין אוריתא אמר ליה מן ההיא דאמר ר’ יוחנן בשם רבי שמעון בן יוחי לא תתחתן בם וכו’ אמר ליה חבוט חבוטך דהיא טבא בקלטה

Jacob of Kefar Nevurya went to Tyre. They came and asked him “What about circumcising the son of an Aramean woman on the sabbath?”. And he argued in favour of permitting them because of this (Numbers 1:18) ‘They were registered by the clans of their father’s houses.’ Rabbi Haggai heard this. He said “Let Jacob come and be whipped!”. He said to him, “For what are you whipping me?” He said to him, “Because of this ruling (Ezra 10:3); ‘Come, let us make a covenant to expel all the foreign women.’ He said to him “Are you whipping me because of this tradition?” He said to him (Ezra 10:3) “Let it be done according to the Torah.” He said to him, “Does this come from a law in the Torah?” He said to him “It comes from here, that Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai, (Deuteronomy 7:3) “You shall not intermarry with them.” He said to him, “Strike your blows, it is good to receive them.”

12. “Reform Movement’s Resolution on Patrilineal Descent.” Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) 1947
the parents in mixed marriages could make a declaration to a Rabbi that it was their intention to raise their children in the Jewish faith, and the children could then be considered converted and enrolled in the religious school. This would enable such children to celebrate bar or bat mitzvah, and then eventually, ‘the ceremony of Confirmation at the end of the school course shall be considered in lieu of a conversion ceremony.’

13. CCAR 1961 about the child of a mixed marriage:
“Reform Judaism … accepts such a child as Jewish without a formal conversion, if he attends a Jewish school and follows a course of studies leading to Confirmation.”

14. From CCAR 1983 resolution on patrilineal status
The purpose of this document is to establish the Jewish status of the children of mixed marriages in the Reform Jewish community of North America.We deal here only with the Jewish identity of children which one parent is Jewish and the other parent is non-Jewish. We face today an unprecedented situation due to the changed conditions in which decisions concerning the status of the child of a mixed marrige are to be made. There are tens of thousands of mixed marriages. In a vast majority of these cases the non-Jewish extended family is a functioning part of the child’s world, and may be decisive in shaping the life of the child. It can no longer be assumed a priori, therefore, that the child of a Jewish mother will be Jewish any more than that the child of a non-Jewish mother will not be.

This leads us to the conclusion that the same requirements must be applied to establish the status of a child of a mixed marriage, regardless of whether the mother or the father is Jewish.
Therefore the Central Conference of American Rabbis declares that the child of one Jewish parent is under the presumption of Jewish descent. This presumption of the Jewish status of the offspring of any mixed marriage is to be established through appropriate and timely public and formal acts of identification with the Jewish faith and people. The performance of these mitzvot serves to commit those who participate in them, both parent and child, to Jewish life.
Depending on circumstances, mitzvot leading toward a positive and exclusive Jewish identity will include entry into the covenant, acquisition of a Hebrew name, Torah study, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Kabbalat Torah (Confirmation). For those beyond childhood claiming Jewish identity, other public acts or declarations may be added or substituted after consultation with their rabbi.

15. Liberal Judaism Current Official Policy
If someone is born to one, but not two, Jewish parents, he or she is doubtfully Jewish: if the parents make a commitment to bring up that child as Jewish, he or she is presumed to be Jewish: once the childhood education is complete to bar/bat mitzvah or (preferably) to confirmation/Kabbalat Torah, he or she is fully Jewish.

16. Reform Movement (Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK) New Policy 2015

We believe that:

i.     in cases where an individual has no Jewish lineage, conversion is required;

ii     in cases where an individual has solely Jewish lineage, no formal process is required, though we affirm the need for continuing Jewish learning and practice;

iii     in cases where an individual has potential status through a single Jewish parent, irrespective of the gender of the Jewish parent, conversion is not required, but there is a need for a process through which consent and commitment can be demonstrated. This is because in these cases the individual has the option to embrace another faith tradition, reflecting the other part of their lineage.

 

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