Religion is something that is a very sensitive subject these days. It’s definitely something I’ve learned not to talk about in mixed company. But write a blog post about it? Why not!
I did not grow up in a religious family. My mother is Jewish and my father is Catholic. We celebrated a variety of holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah and Passover. But we didn’t go to church or temple. We didn’t have crucifixes in our home or crosses. A few stars of David here and there, but mostly on Hanukkah. I don’t feel as though my childhood was affected by this, but I suppose I don’t have anything to compare it to.
Fast forward to present day, where I am Jewish and married to a Catholic. We have also chosen to not be religious. We celebrate Christmas, Easter and Hanukkah, but not the religious version. We have talked about it at length, but decided that this is how we wanted to be. We want to expose our children to all different kinds of rituals and experiences and then let them decide what they want to do.
We do have beliefs and morals that we have passed on to our children. We believe in God and we believe in being a good person. Doing for others. Even seemingly small acts of kindness can go a long way. We believe in having compassion for others and we believe in karma. We believe in tolerance for others. Showing love and not hate. And regardless if our children decide to follow a religion when they are grown, I think that these lessons will remain with them.
When I was growing up, I learned at a pretty early age not to tell people I was Jewish. I remember being as young as eight and being told by a classmate that I was going to hell because I killed Jesus. I had no idea what this kid was talking about and was so hurt that someone would say that to me. As I got older and would get negative reactions to my heritage, I just started to keep it to myself. Between my braces, glasses and frizzy hair, I had enough fodder for the bullies.
Even now as an adult, I sometimes get adverse reactions when I mention I’m Jewish. But I don’t shy away from it anymore. And I encourage my kids to be open about it. There is no shame in being Jewish and no one should have to hide it. Same with being Christian, Catholic or Muslim. Everyone should be allowed to believe and worship what they choose.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I feel like we as a country are just too worked up and sensitive about everything. Just because someone doesn’t follow the same path as you, doesn’t make them bad. It just makes them different. And unfortunately, most of the religious people that I have encountered in my life, have been some of the most hateful people I have ever met. I once worked as a receptionist for a woman who was a devout Christian. Upon learning that my brother was gay, she apologized that he would one day burn in hell. To which I responded “well I wouldn’t want to be down there all by myself!” #smartassproblems
I feel like if everyone could just learn to be tolerant and less judgy the world would be a much better place. Hate is a strong emotion and one that causes nothing but trouble.