Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 10.3:
I'm a Jew who accepted the tenets of another religion, but now wants to practice Judaism again. Am I allowed? Am I still Jewish?

Answer:

A Jew cannot become a non-Jew. This is because any Jew can do tshuva (repentance or "return") up to the moment of death, and this includes forsaking one's estrangement from Judaism. The three steps of Teshuvah are based on the Rambam.

A Jew who sins (e.g. by joining another religion) may lose the privileges of being a Jew (e.g. participation in the Jewish community) but at no point does a Jew become a non-Jew. For example, if a particular activity is permitted to non-Jews, but forbidden only to Jews, it remains a sin for this person.

In Judaism, repentance consists of admitting the sin, regretting that one sinned, and resolving not to repeat the sin. In the case of a sin that consisted of joining another religion, recanting would certainly be involved--one would (in addition to admitting "I believed in X") say "I regret that I believed in X" and "I will no longer believe in X".

In English, one does not "repent to", one repents. In Hebrew, "to repent" and "to return" are the same word. One returns to G-d. But one returns to G-d by doing the above three actions.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to questions@scjfaq.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at maintainer@scjfaq.org.

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <maintainer@scjfaq.org>