Hi. I have been dating a boy 7 months now and we were planning on marrying until we found out that my great grandmother on my father's side's conversion was done wrong which makes the rest of the family down not Jewish on that side. The problem is the boy I am dating is a kohen (Priest, descendant of Aaron). Would an orthodox rabbi marry us? I have very severe heart problems and every time I have to think about not marrying him it stresses me to the point that I have to go to the hospital and receive IV medicine if not worse. What can we do?
First of all, I am sorry for all of the stress that this has caused you.
As far as your question, there are a few things to think about. If the "questionable" conversion is on your father's side, and your mother is Jewish, then by Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform standards you are considered Jewish. I am speaking technically here, and this does not take away from the emotional, and spiritual challenges that such a discovery might bring about for your father, his family, and your family. For that discussion, I suggest you sit down with a rabbi who you trust to help your family work through these issues. It is also important to have a good understanding of what was "wrong" about the conversion. Is it something that all rabbis would have a problem with? Only Orthodox rabbis? Only some Orthodox rabbis?
But back to your question—(1) If your mother is Jewish, you are Jewish. (2) I do not see why an Orthodox rabbi would not marry you to a Kohen. Traditionally, there were issues with a Kohen marrying a divorcee or a convert- but neither is the case here. You are Jewish because your mother was Jewish and nothing about your status should effect the status of your fiancé’s Kehunah (priesthood).
One other note: I would suggest that you and your fiancé use this as an opportunity to discuss your own feelings about your Judaism, what your Judaism means to you, what type of Judaism you want to bring into your life together. Check out some of your local synagogues, talk with your friends, meet some rabbis in your area- and then decide what feels like the best place for you to begin your Jewish life together.
Good luck and Mazal tov! I hope that all works out for you and your fiancé.
Your concern is well founded. According to traditional Jewish law, as the conversion was not preformed according to halachah/Traditional Jewish law, you are not a Jew. But according to Reform Judaism, a 1983 decision declared that one is a Jew if either parent is Jewish and there be public declarations and rituals that declare one’s Jewish affiliation with the religion and the people. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz made the most cogent statement when he said that better we define ourselves by the Judaism of our grandchildren. In a post Holocaust world, we define Jews as those who, in a world in which we are a distinct minority, align with the Jewish community in a formal way. To best ameliorate your dilemma, find a Liberal/Progressive Rabbi who will gladly welcome you both under the chuppa, knowing that by your commitment, your grandchildren will be Jewish.
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