- Question: [Monday, 27th Teves 5781]
Dear Rabbi, I am a convert, but my father was Jewish and would like to know whether I should keep the Yartzeit of my father as well as whether I receive precedence to lead the prayer for the Amud over somebody who is within the year of mourning. Basically, we only have a single minyan available and the person who is within his year of mourning for his mother generally leads the prayers, although he gives it up for anyone who has a Yartzeit, and I would like to know if I receive the same status?
Being that you are a righteous convert, therefore from the letter of the law you are not obligated to keep the Yartzite customs for your biological Jewish father. Nonetheless, you may do so if you choose and so is recommended. Thus, you should keep the regular Yartzite customs. However, you cannot differ somebody else from his rights to the Amud during his year of mourning for his parent, although if the person agrees he may forgo that right on your behalf, if he chooses.
Explanation: A convert is considered to not have any halachic relations including regarding the laws of mourning, and therefore from the letter of the law is not obligated to mourn his parents. This applies even if his father was Jewish. Nonetheless, certainly he may choose to do so just like any Jew may take upon himself to say Kaddish on behalf of another Jew. However, obviously he cannot override somebody else who was an actual Chiyuv.
Sources: See regarding a convert not mourning his relatives: Michaber and Rama Y.D. 374:5; Shach 374:4; See regarding the laws of precedence: Kiryas Chana 35, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 376:7; Beis Hillel 376 that so is implied from Rama ibid and Maharik Shoresh 44; Chasam Sofer 345, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 376:7