At Shul I notice that some converts have names such as "Yoseph Ben Avraham V'Sarah" and some have just "Yoseph Ben Avraham". Are both correct? Is this something new (ish)?

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    Does this Shul use mothers' names for any other people?
    – Double AA
    Jul 30, 2017 at 22:34
  • 1
    Is this shul an Orthodox one?
    – ezra
    Jul 31, 2017 at 0:30
  • 1
    I have never heard of concerts being called up with v'Sarah, though I have heard ben Avraham Avinu.
    – DonielF
    Jul 31, 2017 at 5:10
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    I've never noticed, but I imagine you would also use ben/bat Sarah to daven for them if they're sick. And in the yehi ratzon before taking out the Sefer Torah on the shalosh regalim.
    – Heshy
    Jul 31, 2017 at 10:01
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    I'm pretty sure I've heard "v'Sarah Imanu" during a Mishebairach on a sick convert at my Orthodox shul.
    – Mike
    Aug 1, 2017 at 0:53

1 Answer 1


Reform Judaism holds egalitarianism as a core value and calls everybody by both father's and mother's names (if both parents are Jewish). Converts are Ploni ben Avraham v'Sarah, but it doesn't stand out because everybody gets a matronymic. I've heard people talk about "Avraham Avinu v'Sarah Imeinu" but I have never seen somebody be called that.

Conservative congregations, in my experience, often use both names, but there are some that only use the father's name. (My Conservative weekday minyan recently merged into another, and in the process the default naming pattern changed.) Again, converts are no different from anybody else in this regard.

How long have they been doing it? I understand (anecdotally) that Reform has been using both parents' names since the 1960s or 1970s. I don't know about Conservative.

I don't have extensive Orthodox experience, but I don't think I've ever heard somebody called by both the father's and mother's name. This might happen in egalitarian or "partnership" minyanim; I've been to those a few times but can't recall what their naming practices were.

All of what I've said is for aliyot or other cases where you use a person's "usual" Hebrew name. A mi sheberach for healing uses the mother's name, universally in my experience. (I don't think I've heard both parents' names in this context in egalitarian congregations, even though you might expect that.)

  • Also what about the Yehi Ratzon on Yom Tov which alludes to אני עבדך בן אמתך?
    – Heshy
    Jan 30, 2019 at 21:36
  • @Yishai good point; you'd expect that but, now that I think about it, that's not what I've heard. Probably somebody does it and I just haven't encountered it. Jan 30, 2019 at 21:40
  • @Heshy sorry, I don't know. Jan 30, 2019 at 21:40
  • That bit about Reform practice from the 60s or 70s I’d venture to say is only anecdotal. From my experience, it wasn’t the case. All in all, tldr; it is indeed “something new(ish)”.
    – Oliver
    Jan 30, 2019 at 23:47
  • @Oliver yes, anecdotal. I wasn't there; I heard this from somebody who grew up in that time period, but it's unlikely to have changed everywhere at once. But when we're talking about Jewish tradition, probably anything in the last hundred years or so counts as "newish". :-) Jan 31, 2019 at 1:21

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