Dear Mr. Dad: I’m Jewish but my wife, who is seven months pregnant, isn’t, which I know means that, technically, our baby won’t be either. We’ve agreed to raise our child as a Jew, but will we have to convert her?
Wow, you’ve certainly hit on a complicated topic. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Whether you have to convert your child or not depends mostly on whether you’re Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox (there are other movements within Judaism, but these are the big three).
You’re absolutely correct that because your wife isn’t Jewish, your baby won’t be considered Jewish either—but that’s only true for the Orthodox and Conservative movements. If you’re Reform, the fact that you are Jewish will be good enough—as long as Judaism is the child’s only religion and he or she makes some kind of public demonstration of Jewishness later in life (having a Bar- or Bat-Mitzvah, for example).
Interestingly, the one area where all three movements are pretty much in agreement (a very, very rare occurrence) is when it comes to adoption. If you were adopting a child you knew was born to a non-Jewish mother, the baby would have to be converted to be considered Jewish—even if both you and your wife were Jewish.