"No Hebrews Allowed." It's the first reference that comes to my mind when I hear us called Hebrews. Okay, I know YMHA means the Jewish YMCA, and HIAS a Jewish Immigrant Aid Society, but still, Hebrew – when talking about people, not our language – smacks of long-hand for Hebes.

In Biblical times the name Hebrew was a put down often enough. Ivri: the one who crossed over. The one from on yonder, the foreigner. And no, Ramses University didn't credit diversity appreciation courses. But if Ivri was a put down, it also contained a measure, sometimes a substantial measure, of respect.

Abraham is mentioned nine times in the Torah before he is referred to as Abram HaIvri, "Abraham the Hebrew." Why the description all of a sudden? Abraham had crossed over from the Euphrates, had left his home, life, wealth and security to cross over to wherever G‑d would tell him to go. Every immigrant has a measure of courage, of pioneership, showing a willingness to leave all that is familiar and safe and go to a far-off goal. Abraham did it before there was a name for it: the pioneer of pioneering.

Now he was faced with fighting the strongest forces in the world. Would he shrink? No, hints the Torah: he is a Hebrew, one who crossed over his comfort zone and never returned to it. He does what is right, not comfortable. He is a Hebrew.

Most people create their own worlds: circles of friends, obligations, pets, pet peeves. And live there. Then there are those who venture outside their worlds, who don't take their comfort zone with utmost seriousness and don't revere their moods. While they pretty much mind their own business, they're ready to bend on just about anything. They look like pushovers.

Don't be fooled. When their values are challenged they are fearless. They have no fear of fear itself. They have no fear of self; they have no self; they have only what they stand for.

Me? I'd rather be a comfortable coward. But what Abraham achieved with sacrifice, we attain without asking for it. Together with Grandmother's brown eyes and Grandfather's black hair. And if it is unearned it may well be unwanted on some level. "I know we're the Chosen People, but isn't it time you chose someone else?"

But in all honesty that is only a part of me. The other part wants to be an Abraham, wants to have character instead of being one. And all I need to do is do what Abraham did: walk in the footsteps of his trailblazing. Because I give Abraham the same (sometimes begrudging) respect that the world gave that Hebrew then and gives these Hebrews now.

I need only to just plod along until the energy kicks in and I feel the Avraham ohavi, the love G‑d feels for this astonishing person, "the one who loved Me" (Yeshaya 41:8). I do what he did and I become what he was. I live towards him and he lives through me. The Father of the Jewish People. The Hebrews.