According to halachah or Jewish law, any child born to a Jewish mother is a Jew; the father’s religion or practices are irrelevant to the child’s status. The child is considered Jewish regardless of how he or she is raised or continues to practice. In fact, under Jewish law one need attend Hebrew school or even have a formal bar/bat mitzvah to be a Jew.
Conservative and Orthodox rabbis –– who differ in interpretation of Jewish law — accept the halachic definition or conversion by their rabbis. According to Reform Judaism, a person is a Jew if he or she is born either to a Jewish mother or father and is raised as a Jew –– for example, having a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony.
Someone who converts to Judaism is considered 100 percent Jewish. No one is allowed to talk about the person’s conversion (without that person first bringing it up) or single the convert out. The convert is as much a Jew as someone born Jewish.
By Orthodox and Conservative standards, a person converts through Jewish study, a brit milah (for men), immersion in a mikvah and a stated commitment to follow Torah law. Reform rabbis set their own standards of study and observance within the movement’s guidelines.
–– Maayan Jaffe