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Revisiting Patrilineal Descent and Conversion

The question of patrilineal descent is not only one of recognizing a sociological change in our time – Jews and non-Jews are marrying each other at an increasing rate — but is a profound theological transformation of our understanding of what it means to be a Jew. For many people, it is no longer the communitythat defines who is Jewish. Rather, individual families decide whether their children are Jewish. In many liberal circles, there are no objective criteria for the designation other than what individuals wish to call themselves or their children. Jewishness becomes a matter of individual choice rather than a status acquired at birth or taken on through study and conversion.

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