A Jew is a journeyer. To be a Jew is to be constantly moving from what you are to what you can be, and from what you have made of yourself to yet a deeper truth of what you are. To be a Jew is to be engaged in a perpetual quest to improve yourself and improve G‑d's world; to transcend the world and transcend your self; to transcend even as you improve and to improve even as you transcend.

A Jew is a prophet. To be a Jew is to be engaged in a lifelong conversation with G‑d: to daily present before G‑d your questions and your needs, your grievances and your aspirations; and to listen carefully to what G‑d desires of you.

A Jew is a faithful servant. To be a Jew is to do good not only because it gains you material or spiritual reward; not only because it makes sense or feels right to do so; but, first and foremost, because G‑d so commanded.

NEARLY 3,800 YEARS AGO there lived a man named Abram. Before his time there were righteous men and women, teachers and gurus, activists and do-gooders. But they were not Jews. Abram himself was, for many years, a teacher and spiritual guide, a champion of justice and truth, a bestower of charity and kindness. But he wasn't a Jew. Not yet.

Then, in Abram's 75th year, he heard and responded to the divine call, Lech lecha me'artzecha, me'moladetecha, ume'beit avicha, el haaretz asher areka...

This is what G‑d said to Abram (translated into English): "Go, you, from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you."

G‑d also said (as per the Kabbalistic interpretation of the above-quoted Hebrew words and phrases): "Go to your innermost self: move away from your will, from your feelings, and from your intellect, to the desire that I will reveal to you."

Thus Abram became Abraham, the first Jew.