Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q10.1 TOC Q10.3 >

Question 10.2:
I'm a Jew who married a gentile. Am I still Jewish?


Yes. Marriage doesn't change your status.

With respect to your children, according to Conservative and Orthodox Judaism, the children of Jewish mothers are Jewish, and the children of gentile women are gentile unless converted. (An adult who converts must accept the Obligation of the Commandments at the time of conversion. A child who converts delays this acceptance until age 13 (12 for girls), thereby validating the childhood-conversion. If he doesn't accept the commandments, he is not considered Jewish.)

Reform requires that a child born of a mixed marriage identify publicly with Judaism (e.g., have a Jewish naming, Brit (if appropriate), Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, etc.) to be considered Jewish by Reform. This is called the "patrilineal descent" decision.

The liberal Jewish movements (Reform, Progressive) often try to work with intermarried couples to encourage them to remain involved in Judaism, to raise their children as Jewish (with subsequent formal conversion, or to meet the requirements for Reform Judaism), and to educate the non-Jewish partner so that Jewish life at home is not sabotaged (often, as a side-effect of this, the non-Jewish partner makes an independent decision to convert). There is a group that works on promoting services to intermarried families, called the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI) <>. Since 1989, this group has held several national conferences for Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders to foster expertise in programming for the nearly 600,000 intermarried families and their more than 700,000 children in North America. If you are interested in JOI's publications or obtaining a directory of services, visit their homepage, write them at 1270 Broadway, Suite 609 New York NY 10001; contacted them via Email at, or via telephone at +1-212-760-1440.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>