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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q10.14 TOC Sect. 11 >

Question 10.15:
Through how many generations does Matrilineal Descent remain valid?


In theory, it works forever.

In practice, after a couple of generations it's impossible to obtain proof that would be accepted without question. The child of a Jewish matrilineal greatgrandmother is likely to require going through the conversion, just in case the belief about that greatgrandmother was unfounded. Or, if young or well known enough, it might take another generation before that uncertainty creeps in.

There's no rule about a particular number of generations, since the issue is one of the practicality of applying the theory, not the Jewish teaching itself.

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) 1993-2005 Daniel P. Faigin <>