Q. A bochur who became a Baal Teshuva and learns today in a yeshiva was born and raised as a Muslim and went to a Islamic Madrasah. When he became aware that his mother was actually Jewish and he also visited the grave of her father and mother in a Jewish cemetery, after reading and becoming informed, he decided to follow her religion and became a baal teshuva, under the guidance of a known Rosh Yeshiva.
He adopted the name of his grandfather Chaim and avoided in his new environment the name of birth, which was Ismail for obvious reasons. Yet since he is still in contact with his father, many cousins and Islamic family members and friends, that name has not been forgotten. He wonders if when called to the Torah he should also use his birth name of Yishmael added to Chaim. What is the correct way to follow?
A. Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that the name Yishmael was of course used widely in the days of the Talmud as we are all aware, and we mention daily the teachings of Rabi Yishmael at the end of Korbanos.
The Rov pointed out that the author of Responsa Zera Emes (four volumes), Sefer Hazikaron etc. was the known Sephardi Sage Yishmael ben Avrohom Yitzchok Hacohen zt’l, and although this days the name in uncommon, there is no reason not to call himself by that name if he so desires.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller and Horav Aharon Miller Shlit’a