Dear Rabbi Simon
My maternal grandmother was a practicing Jew and ethnically Jewish, but I was raised and baptized Catholic. I’ve researched Judaism for years and would like to pursue a deeper connection with it. My question is that do I count as Jewish/ethically Jewish due to my maternal line being Jewish? And if not then would I be allowed to one day convert to Judaism?
Thank you for your question.
The answer is that in terms of Jewish Law (known as halakhah), you are already Jewish from birth, notwithstanding your Catholic baptism and upbringing. This presumes that you are able to demonstrate that your maternal grandmother was indeed Jewish in accordance with Torah Law. (For the sake of clarity: Even if your grandmother had not been a practicing Jew, as long as she was born to Jewish parents—or strictly speaking even just a Jewish mother–her Jewish status would technically be the same.)
Of course, to be “technically Jewish” is not the same as leading a Jewishly authentic life. The latter challenge/objective still lies ahead of you. There is a plethora of online resources to assist you. For authenticity, choose an Orthodox Jewish site. There are plenty of them.
In the interest of completeness, the answer to your second question is that, in principle, anyone may convert to Judaism. However, the practicalities of this are manifold and require careful consideration. It is much “easier” to be born Jewish.
I hope this is helpful.
With Torah blessings
Rabbi Rashi Simon