Menu JTA Search

German Court Rules a German is a Jew if Born of a Jewish Mother

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The question of who is a Jew was decided here this weekend as far as German law is concerned. The Supreme Administrative Court of West Germany ruled that a German is a Jew if born of a Jewish mother.

The case involved an unidentified Jewish emigrant who returned to West Berlin after World War II, and was asked by the Jewish Community of Berlin to pay community taxes. The man, who has since left Berlin and is now living in Italy, claimed that he was not a member of the Jewish community since he had broken his ties with Judaism and now professed atheism.

The court ruling upheld the Jewish Community’s laws and a Prussian law of 1847 that defines membership in religious denominations. The ruling also held that every member of a community has the right to make an official declaration of withdrawal, but added that the man in question had known of this and had not exercised the right. The court’s ruling is final, not subject to appeal.

NEXT STORY