One of my earliest memories is of me, eyes closed, kneeling by my bed, silently telling God everything that I was thankful for. I had seen an actor do it in a movie, and it convinced my easily influenced, very unfledged, young self to try it, hopefully resulting in the start of a long relationship with God. I tried praying a few more times over the years, and, each time, it felt like I had called Heaven, and was sent straight to voicemail. Eight days after my birth, I had my bris, or circumcision ceremony. From that day on, in accordance to my Jewish mother’s will, I practiced Judaism.Order now
Every Sunday, I went to the only temple in San Antonio, and learned about Jewish beliefs, traditions, values, and practices. When class ended, I would get into the backseat of my recovering Catholic, born again Atheist father’s navy blue Forerunner, to be greeted by the question that has resulted in more bloodshed than any other question that has ever been asked: “Is there a God? ” I went along with learning Hebrew, going to Sunday school, and all other things that were required by the temple, until there was more and more talk about my confirmation ceremony.
In Judaism, getting confirmed means that one makes the vow to practice the religion for the remainder of their life. Because I had been a relatively devout follower for all of my pre-pubescent life, getting confirmed was thought of as something that was definite. But, in all fourteen years, I had never found any meaning in the texts, felt any bond with the Jewish community, or developed any sort of connection with God.
I asked myself, “Just because my own flesh and blood, and millions of others, believe something, does that make it undoubtedly true? This question evoked many, many thoughts and started in an inner battle, the participants being two vastly different ways of thought. In the end, I decided that I did not believe in any type of God, spurring my decision to not get confirmed, which directly resulted in the parting of ways between Judaism and I. After hearing my resolution to not practice Judaism anymore, my father was almost indifferent, content with any choice I made on my own.
My mother, on the other hand, didn’t take my decision very well. Going to services on Yom Kippur is the norm in Reform Judaism, and, ever since I admitted to my disbelief in God, she practically gave me excuses to not attend them. It seemed like she was in denial of my religious views, never wanting to confront them head on. To this day, we still haven’t had a discussion concerning our differing religious views, but a strong sense of ‘live and let live’ has become apparent in our family life.
I was born into a very liberal family, that is accepting of an uncommonly wide range of opinions, so the price that I had to pay, which was a small conflict concerning the differing beliefs in my family, was impermanent, ending almost as soon as it started. The positives all added to my personal growth, helping me become the outspoken, opinionated, and accepting person that I am today. A few months ago, I stumbled upon on a Twain quote that perfectly embodies my thought process. He suggests “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. His insight can be applied to any decision, big or small, that has, and will, ever been made.
It perfectly explains why I challenged a belief that has been held in my family since before the American Gilded Age, which, coincidentally, was dubbed by Twain himself. My parents instilled in me the value of asking questions where there is doubt, to not accept everything that I am told, and expected, to believe. They raised me to be a free thinker, who follows only when following is pertinent. My grandmother died a few years after I first openly lacked a belief in God, so I was sure that when you die, you die.
I was very close to her, and didn’t take the loss very well. When I was at her final resting place, my emotions were so strong, that they overpowered my logic, temporarily convincing me that I believed in God, in hope that she could finally see her husband, my grandpa, after fifteen years of not being by his side. Painting this picture in my head made me wonder if I would ever fall into line, and let ‘the word of God’ burrow itself into my being. As of now, I feel that religion will never find a place in my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely opposed to the idea of it.