Yesterday’s post on my journey from the Jewish faith to Catholicism rattled a few nerves and, I think, led to some misunderstandings about my attitude toward the faith of my youth.
One good friend said he hoped I realized that there was much more to a Jewish conversion than getting a circumcision. Another reader said that had I been living in Germany during the 1930s and 40s, the Nazis wouldn’t care that I had converted. They would have killed me anyway.
“You are a Jew via bloodlines either Ashkenazi or Sephardic who has chosen to practice the religion of Catholicism,” he wrote. “You are a Jew and would be a dead man in Hitler’s Germany even if you converted, as well as your children even if raised Catholic. Please don’t confuse the religion with the fact that Jews are defendants from the 12 tribes + the 13th ( Ethiopian Jews ) and you may chose to leave the religion but the Blood will never change. To a anti-Semite you’re a dirty Jew no matter what religion you practice. Don’t forget it.”
So, let me make two points:
1.) The last line in yesterday’s post was not meant to insult or make fun of people. It was simply two friends having lunch and needling each other. I was curious about how circumcisions are handled when an adult converts. Sure, there was mischief in my question. But it wasn’t an effort to belittle the faith.
2.) My journey has never been about running from one faith to another. I never set out to lose the religion I was born into. My beliefs changed slowly over time, but I have never been ashamed of my Jewish roots, and I never will be.
It’s funny how we haggle over faith. Some people are certain God doesn’t exist, and they look down on those of us who have faith like we’re dumb sheep; like they are so much smarter than we are.
There are others who are certain that anyone whose beliefs fall outside their own denomination are going to hell. I remember a fellow student at North Shore Community College who was a Protestant. She told a friend point-blank that Jewish people were going to hell because they weren’t of her exact denomination. I’ve heard Catholics say similar things about non Catholics.
When I hear those bullshit declarations, I remember something my father once said about people who cling so viciously to their version of religion:
“Won’t people be shocked after they drop dead to discover it (the different denominations) all comes from the same place.”
The Catholic faith is what I most identify with. But I also think God is way, way bigger than any one denomination.
In that respect, I think my old man has it right.