“Children of Israel,” an often used title for the Jewish people, is a name defined by the familial relationship of the descendants of Abraham and Sarah. This familial relationship (which even DNA studies have confirmed) plays a strong role in both Jewish identity and Jewish life in general. For instance, one of the common forms of addressing God in Jewish prayer is “Eh’loh’haynu vay’lo’hay avotaynu,” our God and God of our ancestors.
At the same time, the Jewish people have always welcomed sincere converts and permitted them (after a detailed process of learning and commitment) to join the ”family.” The question now arises: Is Abraham the great-grandfather of converts also?
Genetically, perhaps not. Spiritually, however, there is no doubt.
Rabbi Zerikan said: Rabbi Z’eera asked, Does not “our fathers” refer to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? …It has been taught in the name of Rabbi Judah:…because it says ‘”you shall be the father of a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:4)” In the past you [would have been] the father of Aramea [those of Aram, Abraham’s birthplace] but from now on you shall be the father of all nations (Jerusalem Talmud Bikkurim, Halacha 4).
When a person chooses to become a Jew, and goes through the necessary conversion process, he/she is considered spiritually reborn. This rebirth is physically manifested by immersion in the mikveh (ritual pool). At the same time that a person completes the conversion process, he/she chooses a Jewish name by which he/she will be known for all matters Jewish. To that name is attached “ben/bat Avraham Avinu v’Sarah Eemaynu” – the son/daughter of Abraham our father and Sarah our mother.
Welcome to the family!
Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.