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Dear Rabbi: A Conversion Question

Dear Rabbi,

When my mother married my step-father some 17 years ago, I developed an interest in Judaism. My step-father is Jewish by birth and practice. Mom was a Christian, and we kids were all raised as "lax Christians."

A few years ago my family and I (I am 37) decided that Judaism was the right choice for us, and we have indeed been living as Jews and studying what we could lay our hands on. However, being in the Navy and transferring every three years to new and isolated areas has put the kabash on a formal conversion. We do our best, though, to live and celebrate life as Jews. I am listed on Naval records as Jewish, but I really would like to make it a "legal" distinction.

Now it gets interesting. Last night my mother calls me from Iowa and informs me that she has finally decided to adopt the faith. She begins her conversion process this week. The news made me very happy and gladdens the heart. Now my question is: Once my mother has been Mikvah'd and is legally Jewish, what impact will this distinction have on me? Will I and all her children (I have 3 sisters; 1 Catholic, 1 Mormon, 1 Pentecostal) be considered Jewish because our mother is Jewish? Your answer would be most appreciated. Thank you.

David D. Sprague

Hebrew for "collection," referring to the "collection of water," is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. Today it is used as part of the traditional procedure for converting to Judaism, by Jews who follow the laws of ritual (body) purity, and sometimes for making kitchen utensils kosher. Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation.
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson serves as the Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, and is the author of The Bedside Torah.

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