Adoption in Judaism


  • Ophir Yarden

    1. Ophir Yarden teaches interdisciplinary Jewish studies. He is a Senior Lecturer at Brigham Young University's Jerusalem Center. He also teaches at the School for Overseas Students of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland's Studium in Israel program at the Hebrew University, and at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.
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Abstract:  This article examines of the place of adoption in Jewish thought and law. Adoption is undocumented in the Hebrew Bible, but some verses suggest—or have been said to describe—realities similar to adoption. Beginning with a discussion of the immutability of the relationships in the biological family, this article discusses the merits of caring for orphans and the special halakhic situations that arise for a Jewish family that pursues a civil adoption. The article concludes with a discussion of adoption as a metaphor for a convert's relationship with the ancestors of the Jewish people.