At the end of Parshat Noach, we learn of the birth of Avram, the marriage of Avram to Sarai, the fact that Sarai is barren as well as the start of their journey to the Land of Cnaan. At the beginning of Parshat Lech Lecha we read (Breisheet 12:5) “Avram took his wife Sarai, Lot, his brother’s son, all of their possessions that they had acquired and the souls that they had made in Charan and they set out to go to the Land of Cnaan. They came to the Land of Cnaan.
Rashi asks what is meant by the words “the souls that they had made in Charan”, after all souls cannot be made.
Rashi answers with an explanation from Breisheet Raba 39:14, they brought the souls under the protective wings of the Divine Presence. Avraham would convert the men and Sarah would convert the women. Therefore they are considered to have made them.
We can learn from here some very important information about conversions.
Avraham and Sarah, converts themselves understood the importance of not just converting people, but rather touching souls.
When working with a person who is converting, a mentor has to understand that they are not just going through the motions of filling out paperwork and teaching a curriculum, they are creating a Jewish soul.
Avraham and Sarah realized that when it comes to studying for conversion, it is often more comfortable for the men to have a male mentor and for the women to have a female mentor.
For the past seventeen years, I have mentored female converts, first in the United States and then in Israel. The women are naturally more comfortable opening up and asking questions to a female mentor who is with them throughout the entire process.
Avraham and Sarah’s goal was to reach the Land of Israel.
Israel’s Rabbanut needs to be welcoming to converts from abroad who want to make Israel their home instead of trying to scare them away by telling them that their Halachic conversions are still not good enough.
We are now in the year 5775. In the year 2023, Avraham and Sarah the first converts already knew the best possible way to work with converts. Why can’t we follow their formula and make sure that we are giving converts support and touching souls, ensure that every female convert, anywhere in the world is paired with a female religious mentor who is with her throughout the entire process from meeting with the Rabbis, studying one on one as well as accompanying her to the mikva and finally, when Halachic converts are ready to make Aliya they should be welcomed with open arms.