Liberal Judaism recognises equilineal descent: namely, that individuals born of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother should be treated in exactly the same way as individuals born to a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father.

The Affirmations of Liberal Judaism state that children of mixed relationships, between a Jew and a non-Jew, are to be treated alike “and considered Jewish if so brought up”.

Liberal Judaism’s acceptance of children of either a Jewish mother or father, provided they have had a Jewish upbringing and education within the context of a synagogue, has been held since approximately 1955. The American Reform movement was talking about patrilineality as early as 1929.

That presumption of Jewish status for a child of one Jewish parent – whether mother or father – is confirmed when the child reaches the age of barmitzvah or batmitzvah. There is no certificate, no conversion, no Beit Din, no rabbinic determination of the status of the child, but a quiet acknowledgement that this individual teenager is a full member of the Jewish community, that they have never been anything other than Jewish and that one parent – together with upbringing and education (and not the religion of the other parent) – determines Jewish status.

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In some cases, for what ever reason, a Jewish person may discover that they are Jewish without previous knowledge of this fact, or that after no formal Jewish upbringing or education, they would like to affirm their Jewish identity.
Working with the local Rabbi and usually engaging in a course of Jewish education and experience similar to that described for the process of conversion, the applicant can apply either for full conversion or to the Rabbinic Board for a Certificate of Status, which confirms the person’s Jewish identity.
Click here to see our Jewish Status FAQ
The path towards conversion to Judaism is one requiring substantial commitment. Liberal Judaism welcomes all sincere converts to Judaism. The course, usually lasting at least fifteen months, is administered and validated centrally by Liberal Judaism, but taught locally.
An applicant is first interviewed by a Rabbi to ascertain that the motives for conversion are for the sake of embracing the Jewish religion and in order to assist the applicant to make an informed decision, we insist upon some preliminary reading and experience of Jewish life and worship. Usually the applicant attends Synagogue Services for at least three months before s/he embarks upon a formal course of instruction.
The course consists of lessons in the Jewish religion, Jewish history, Jewish literature and the Hebrew language. During the course, the applicant is supported by the Community to gain personal experience of all the Jewish festivals in the annual cycle and to begin to feel themselves as part of a Jewish Community.
When the sponsoring Rabbi is satisfied that a sufficient basis of Jewish knowledge and experience has been acquired, the candidate is asked to submit two essays and then appears before the Rabbinic Board of Liberal Judaism (with three Rabbis sitting). If they are satisfied with the sincerity of the candidate, they sign a certificate indicating their approval. The sponsoring Rabbi also signs the certificate.
The candidate then has an Admittance Ceremony in their new Community at which the candidate affirms their status as a Jew upon.
Liberal Judaism strongly recommends circumcision for male converts. If exemption is sought, candidates are required to consult a doctor, preferably a member of the Association of Liberal and Reform Mohalim. All converts are advised to perform the ritual of tevilah (ritual immersion in a Mikveh) as a valuable and experiential way to confirm one’s change in status.
Click here to see our Conversion FAQ