Mendelssohn’s father was a poor Torah scribe, but his mother Bela Rachel Sara was descended from an illustrious line of Rabbis, most notably Moses Isserles (1520-1572). Isserles was author of the Mapa glosses on Joseph Karo’s Shulhan Arukh, which constituted the authoritative guide to Ashkenazic halakhic practice. Mendelssohn married Fromet Gugenheim and together they had ten children, six of whom survived. Each child took a unique path and many lived colorful lives. The conversion of several of Mendelssohn’s children led later generations to debate whether this reflected a flaw in his account of Judaism.