Intermarriage and/or Conversion

August 8, 2016 at 10:48 AM
Questions and AnswersCategory: ConversionIntermarriage and/or Conversion
Leah C. asked 3 years ago

Rabbi, thank you for reading this message. I desperately need your help. My dilemma: I’m not sure if my husband and I are in an intermarriage. He believes that he is more than 2 generations removed from Judaism on his mothers side of course. He has no proof besides recalling that his mother told him they were Jewish. She converted to Xtianity, but his grandmother supposedly maintained as a secular Jew from the little he remembers of her. And his great grandparents are believed to be on his mothers side Jewish immigrants from Austria. Is he subject to the punishment of karet? We only started studying Judaism after 10 years of marriage. Is there forgiveness from HaShem for ignorance? Do we keep Shabbat if we don’t know for sure if he’s Jewish (since it is forbidden for a non-Jew to keep Shabbat)? But it’s also a sin to be mechalel Shabbat if he is Jewish. What does one do in the case of uncertainty? Can we be Noahides or is he obligated to return to Judaism if he’s not positive? Thank you for any help.

1 Answers
Rabbi Alon Anava answered 3 years ago


First and most important, you did not mention if you are Jewish or not (as you wrote “Can we be Noahides” – which seems you are not Jewish)

The next thing to do is to research if your husband is Jewish or not. If his mother is Jewish but converted to Xtianity, it means nothing that conversion and it means she is still Jewish which makes your husband Jewish.

In cases of uncertainty about if one is Jewish or not, the recommendation is after a serious research is to do a conversion ‘just to be sure’ but first you must do a very thorough research. If you already did that research and still not sure I would recommend to to a conversion just to be sure, but I would not neglect it, cause if there is a chance he is a Jew then he must live like a Jew and yes, G-d forgives for ignorance or when you do not know. Also don’t worry about Karet, Karet is only with you know about the sin and doing it knowingly and deliberately.

As of observing the Shabbat, he should observe 99.9% the Shabbat and make sure he is just not doing one thing (in-case he is not Jewish) so he would need to keep Shabbat 99.9% and if you live in a community that does not have an Eruv (that allows you to carry) then just carry a key in your pocket, as we are not allowed to carry on Shabbat.

Very important to know, is if you are Jewish. If you are not, then you can’t observe the Shabbat, and if your husband is, you can’t be with him. If you are Jewish, then there is no question here at all, you must follow the Torah. I am just asking that cause you asked if you can be Noahides, and you can only be a Noahide if you are not Jewish.

To make order in the mess:

1) Do a thorough research if your husband is Jewish or not.
2) Once you find out, you move to the next step, either conversion just to be sure, and I suggest conversion and not Noahide cause there is a very good chance he is Jewish.
3) If you are not Jewish and he is, and you want to stay married, you must convert
4) Till you figure it out, you must keep it to the minimum in regards to prohibitions, cause now that you know, any Karet prohibition will be considered knowing and that will be accountable of Karet

If things are still very confusing (which I can understand it is) I suggest you contact my PA through this website to schedule a call where we can talk briefly and hopefully get better guidance

All the best
Rabbi Alon Anava