web analytics
May 4, 2015 / 15 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Title: Jewish Identity: Who is a Jew?: Modern responses and opinions on the registration of children of mixed marriages

book-jewish-identity

Title: Jewish Identity: Who is a Jew?: Modern responses and opinions on the registration of children of mixed marriages
Author: Baruch Litvin; edited by Sidney B Hoenig
Publisher: Ktav Publishing House

 

Published originally in 1965, this reissue of a classic is now more relevant than ever. Jewish law legislates that a child is Jewish if the mother is Jewish, or one who had converted to Judaism according to specific halachic requirements. Jewish identity is thus not merely sociological and demographic (if Jews live in the land of Israel) nor ethnic (differences in customs, folkways, and liturgy and practice of Ashkenazi Jews vs. Sephardic Jews), but rather determined by a maternal hereditary religious blood covenant. The rabbis and the Talmud trace the determination of Jewish status through the mother from Deuteronomy 7:3-4. The paradigm of legitimate conversion to Judaism is Ruth who tells her mother-in-law Naomi, “Your people will be my people, where you go I will go, etc.,” and it is from Ruth and Boaz that the messiah is traced back to Judah and Tamar. The convert in Jewish law engages in (1) ritual immersion for purification in a mikveh, (2) circumcision for males, (3) acceptance of the mitzvot, and (4) offering a sacrifice, when the Temple stood, and will be rebuilt.

Tractate Demai requires a convert’s substantive acceptance of the mitzvoth – kabbalat ha-mitzvot. The Chazon Ish understands the acceptance of the mitzvot in its theological rather than practical sense, a convert must accept the chosen uniqueness of the Jewish people as it relates to our role in the world. This acceptance must be acknowledged al da’at bet din. Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik holds the halachic principle of kibush which would allow for a beit din and parents to convert a child without asking and rear the child in their own faith; thus the ger katan program. Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski is of the position that kabbalat ha-mitzvot need not be accompanied by full and complete observance but needs to be accompanied by observance of significant basics such as Shabbos observance, kashrut, and taharat ha-mishpaha. The details of this process are complex, with nuanced disputes among Rishonim and later Achronim, and clarified in codes such as the Tur, Mishneh Torah, and Shulchan Aruch.

In 1950 the state of Israel passed the Law of Return, by which “every Jew has the right to come to the country as an oleh” which was amended in 1970 to include anyone with a Jewish grandparent and their spouses, unless they have voluntarily renounced Judaism.

The question of Jews who are forcibly converted to Christianity and wish to return to Judaism is addressed by the 13th century Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg [1215-1295]. While Rambam holds Christianity to be a form of heretical idolatry while Islam is monotheistic, Maimonides [1135-1204] advised the Jews of Yemen living in a Islamic culture to commit martyrdom only in order to avoid the three cardinal sins: idolatry, sexual improprieties, or murder. A further question arises about 16th and 17th Century Jewish Conversos/Maranos who were forced to convert to Christianity by the Inquisition. More recently Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog retrieved and brought to Israel children hidden in Catholic monasteries during the Holocaust. Rabbi Ephraim Oshry deals with the halachic status of these children and many more in his work She’eilos Uteshuvos Mima’amakim.

The question of intermarriage can be found in the time of Ezra (458 BCE) who upon his return to the land of Israel from Babylonia found that returning Jewish exiles had married non-Israelite women, and children had been born to them. Ezra (10:3) made the Jewish men divorce their non-Jewish wives “according to the commandment of our G-d and according to Torah.” Ezra 9:2 and Nechemia 13:23 legislate that the offspring of non-Jewish wives are not Jewish and we are told that the marriage to a non-Jewish wife leads to the “diluting of the holy seed (zera ha-kodesh) among the people of the land” (Ezra 9:2). In the Mishnaic times while the house of Hillel would not marry with the house of Shamai, both were clearly Jewish. However marriage with the Samaritans was prohibited by the Tannaim. Prohibition of marriage with Christians followed on theological difference and historically on Christian acceptance of gentiles into the Church. When the Karaites arose in the middle Ages, most authorities prohibited marriage to this sect which only accepted the Written Law and not the Oral Law.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Title: Jewish Identity: Who is a Jew?: Modern responses and opinions on the registration of children of mixed marriages”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
A Gaza building, reportedly used by Hamas, destroyed by the IDF on August 26, 2014.
NGO Monitor: Negative Testimony from ‘Breaking the Silence’ Meets Quota for Grant Makers
Latest Sections Stories
Eller-050115-Fruit

For all their deliciousness, frozen beverages do not stand the test of time well, as any ice or frozen fruit thickening your drink will melt into a watery mess.

blintze_cake

“DouxMatok’s technology will allow for a reduction of 30-60 percent of sugar in a product, depending on the application, and with no effect on taste.”

Schonfeld-logo1

How do we ensure that our students aren’t studying for the grade or the end-of-the-year pizza party? How can we get them to truly want to learn for learning’s sake?

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Someone close to us knew that you were good at saving marriages and begged us to give therapy one last chance,

Rabbi Pinni Dunner and Holocaust survivor Heddy Orden.

He wrote a strong defense of shechitah in which he maintained that the Jewish method of slaughter had a humanitarian influence on the Jewish people.

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will be the keynote speaker at the Westchester Government Relations Legislative Breakfast on Friday, May 8, at 7:45 am at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison.  The annual event, which brings together important elected officials and the Westchester Jewish community, is sponsored jointly by UJA-Federation of New York […]

“Like other collaborative members, we embarked on this journey as an opportunity to build on New York leadership’s long commitment to expand and diversify opportunities for Jewish teen engagement,” says Melanie Schneider, senior planning executive with UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal

The poetry slam required entrants to compose original poetry with powerful imagery and energetic rhythm bringing their poems to life – making it palpable to the audience.

“I was so inspired by the beautiful lessons I learned and by the holiness around me that I just couldn’t stop writing songs!” she says.

But Pi Day is worst of all
I want the extra credit bad
But trying to remember many numbers
makes me sad.

More Articles from David B. Levy
book-jewish-identity

Published originally in 1965, this reissue of a classic is now more relevant than ever. Jewish law legislates that a child is Jewish if the mother is Jewish, or one who had converted to Judaism according to specific halachic requirements. Jewish identity is thus not merely sociological and demographic (if Jews live in the land of Israel) nor ethnic (differences in customs, folkways, and liturgy and practice of Ashkenazi Jews vs. Sephardic Jews), but rather determined by a maternal hereditary religious blood covenant.

book-red-strings

Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) was a halachist par excellence, philosopher, physician, and a political leader of the Jewish community at the ibn Ezra Synagogue of Egypt. Born in Cordovero, Spain and caused to flee a fanatical Muslim sect, the Rambam travelled to Morocco, Eretz Yisrael, Alexandria, and then served as a physician in the court of the Sultan in Cairo Fostat.

This excellent, delightful and lucid collection represents some of the best in academic research. Philological, lexicographical, linguistic, epigraphical, cultural, mythological, ritualistic, and historical knowledge are informed by virtuosity in comparative ancient Semitic languages. These erudite studies by the high-powered academic scholarship of Hayim Tawil – a professor of Hebrew languages and literature at Yeshiva University – shed light on Biblical Hebrew, the whole field of Ancient Near Eastern studies, medieval exegetical traditions, and the reception history of the Biblical text from antiquity to the present day.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-jewish-identity-who-is-a-jew-modern-responses-and-opinions-on-the-registration-of-children-of-mixed-marriages/2013/04/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: