Hi. I met this girl, she is amazing to me, she feels like the one. I've got a problem: I'm a kohain (Kohen), and her mother converted. While her mother was far into the conversion process, this girl was born. Is she considered Jewish, or a convert? Please send me this answer soon. I would not go against my religion, but I feel that Hashem tests us in such hard ways and so many times.
Any child born prior to her mother’s actual conversion to Judaism requires a conversion either together with her mother when her mother converts or at a special conversion ceremony for her alone. The fact that her mother was involved in preparing for conversion when she was born does not grant her the status of a natural born Jew. A case in point would be a situation wherein a woman prepares for conversion and at the last moment refuses to be involved in the ceremony. The studies or preparatory acts do not confer upon such a woman any transfer of religious status. The woman is simply not Jewish. As such, the young lady whom you intend to marry is simply a convert.
At issue of concern is whether there is any Halachic ruling that would permit a kohen to marry a convert. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the late master decisor of jewish law, developed the following position. He contended that in the event that there are no living parents or children who are Shabbat observers to attest that you are actually a kohen, or no reliable European tradition, one may contend that your status as a kohen is not halachically confirmed, and you may marry a convert. This means that lacking proper religious witnesses to your claim to being a kohen , you assume the identity of a non- kohen and may marry the young lady who is deemed a convert.
A Kohen is prohibited from marrying a convert, a prostitute, a divorcee, or a widow. But the verses in Leviticus (21:7, 14) only mention the prostitute, divorcee and widow which give us the underlying explanation to the prohibition against marrying a convert that is mentioned in the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 78a): Non-Jewish women were considered of questionable reputation. See also Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Relations 18:3.
On the other hand, according to Talmudic law a marriage between a Kohen and a convert, although forbidden, is still valid if the marriage took place anyhow but their male offspring are considered of having lost their status as Kohanim.
In your case the situation is different. If I understood your description of the background of your fiancée correctly, her mother converted while being pregnant with her. If your fiancée was born AFTER her mother finished her conversion (immersed in the mikveh l’shem giyyur), her mother is now considered Jewish in all aspects and any offspring that she gave birth since are Jewish by birth. It doesn’t matter if the conception happened before the conversion. See also Tur and Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 7.
There are although some minority opinions that hold that a woman conceived before her mother’s conversion although Jewish is not fit to marry a Kohen. This is a minority opinion but one that you might encounter here and there.
The Conservative movement has ruled in several teshuvot (Klein, Goodman) that the prohibition against Kohanim marrying converts today is no longer applicable for several reasons: firstly, no Kohen can today be really sure of his lineage to the Second Temple – all Kohanim are “assumed Kohanim”, secondly non-Jewish women today are not to be considered to come from idolatrous societies and are also not considered “loose women” simply because they are non-Jewish. Therefore, in the Conservative movement most rabbis would feel comfortable to marry a Kohen and a convert. Their male offspring would be considered Kohanim in conservative congregations but not in orthodox congregations.
I would like to point out that if you have consulted a rabbi who ruled that he/she will not perform the marriage than their opinion is based on a valid opinion.
For most who are in the Reform movement, the restrictions on those who are Kohanim (singular, a kohain = priest, high priest - the descendants of Aaron), are thought to be irrelevant, and neither the restrictions nor the special status accorded them are followed.
With the complete destruction of the Temple for the second time in the year 70 CE, the focus of Judaism and Jewish practice was transferred from the Temple (a cultic site where offerings for animal sacrifices were the major form of practice, and where the animals were brought, and the rituals were overseen and performed by the kohanim), to a religion that functioned in non-specific locales, using prayer as that which was 'sacrificed', with the primary focus on the home and the observances of the individual/family. This was possible because it had been decreed that Israel shall be 'a nation of priests' - so no need for the kohanim to serve in this ritual fashion absent the ritual in the Temple. More, it was always known that G-d did not need the sacrifices of animals (specifically unlike some religions where one had to feed the gods); this was what people needed to do to express their love and fear of G-d.
Those who are continuing to follow the restrictions on the kohanim do so in the expectation/hope that the Temple will be restored, and that ritual worship through animal sacrifice will again become the norm. This position is roundly rejected by the bulk of those in the Reform movement, who tend to feel that Judaism and Jews have evolved beyond the need for this rather primitive seeming form of worship.
Given that the restriction you mention on marriage of a kohain to a convert (as well as the other restrictions) is related to keeping a kohain 'fit' to serve in the Temple to perform sacrifices, most in the Reform group would not be concerned if you ignored this issue. It is unlikely that the Temple will be restored anytime in your lifetime, if ever, or that Jews will return to animal sacrifice as the form of worship of G-d.
As for her status: here, I would have to say that from what you tell me I cannot determine if this woman was born Jewish or is Jewish. The Reform movement has multiple Responsa (answers to questions) that deal with the status of children of mixed marriages. I will try to summarize them.
A child born to a non-Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father is not Jewish by any definition. To be considered Jewish, that child would have to undergo a conversion.
The typical thinking is that if the mother was Jewish at the time of birth, the child can be considered Jewish. This concept of matirlineality (descent through the mother) is essentially what the Orthodox and Conservative positions follow. The Reform movement also requires that the child be raised in a Jewish home, given a Jewish education, and engage in rituals and public acts that affirm their Jewish status.
The Reform movement has also accepted patrilineality (descent through the father) as a basis for Jewish status. In this instance, a child born to a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father, where that child is raised in a Jewish home, given a Jewish education, and engages in rituals and public acts that affirm their Jewish status, is accepted as Jewish. This position is not accepted by all movements in the Jewish world - and since this seems likely to be the situation with the woman in whom you are interested, this could be problematic for you and for her down the road.
I would urge you to consult your own rabbi to discuss this situation. You may also find several other answers on the JVO website that relate to your question. I believe that a search for the keyword 'status' may yield most of them.
Copyright 2014 all rights reserved. Jewish Values Online
N O T I C E
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
NECESSARILY REFLECT OR REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE OR REFORM MOVEMENTS, RESPECTIVELY.