Jewish Status Quandary

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Hi Rabbi,
I have a question about a girl I’m seeing. Her grandmother was born in Russia and during WWII, was left with a family in Portugal. The family was not Jewish but always told her her parents were. Her parents were presumed killed in the war. She was sent to Brazil.
The Rabbi’s here in Paris asked, considering she can’t prove her genealogy, she should undergo the conversion process. She’s started it about 8 months ago.
We’ve wanted to get married since we met. She got pregnant and we just had the baby, a boy, on the first day of Rosh Hashhana.
We’ve hired a lawyer to try and find something but he’s only hit dead ends.
Is there anything you can suggest to accelerate the genealogy quest?
Would you consider her a “suffic”?
Anything you can add would be very much appreciated!

Thank you,


Dear Steve
TY for your email. It is clearly a tumultuous time for you.
There may be records of some sort in Portugal that can help, but it does sound as if the chance of documentation is slim. There are researchers who specialise in this kind of genealogical treasure hunt. Do you have someone good on the case? Have you contacted the Jewish community in Portugal, or the European Jewish Congress?
It does sound as if her status is safek at best, if she has no evidence to substantiate her tale, which is plausible, but just as easily fabricated out of thin air. So, conversion may be your best and only option. But does she actually want to lead a Jewishly authentic life, or does she simply want to be accepted as Jewish? And of course, you will also need to demonstrate your own commitment to a mitzvah-observant lifestyle. This may well involve some learning, change and growth for both of you.
I wish you hatzlachah (and to your little boy as well).

rabbi rashi simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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