Home > Bitching, Fun Childhood, New York, Ohio, Traumatic Childhood > The Time Everyone in the World Tried to Convert Me

The Time Everyone in the World Tried to Convert Me

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Honestly, this is an ongoing issue. Look upon me, for lo!, I am the heathen of the world.

My religious background is…somewhat complicated.

As far as I can tell, my mom was raised Episcopalian, and my dad was raised without a formal organized religion. When they got married, for some reason they both decided to officially convert to Judaism so as to raise us kids with a religion. Classes were taken, tests were passed, and I was given a Hebrew name upon birth. A mispronounced Hebrew name, I later learned.

My older sister was sent to Jewish day school for a while, and we all went to temple, but by the time I was about one or two years old, my parents decided to give up on practicing a religion. I guess their hearts just weren’t in it anymore.

So we started celebrating Christian holidays, but without any religious undertones. I didn’t realize Christmas or Easter were religious holidays until I was almost a teenager. We lit the menorah AND the Christmas tree together, which I’m pretty sure makes no sense at all. We stopped lighting the menorah when I started burning household items in the holy flames – the smell of melting rubber bands didn’t put anyone in the holiday spirit.

When I was older and was spending the night at friends’ houses, the parents there soon realized there was something fishy going on. I celebrated Christmas, but didn’t go to church. I had a supremely Jewish name, but didn’t go to temple. I was pretty forthright at a young age about my disbelief in God. His existence didn’t make logical sense to me, and I was an oddly logical child. Without evidence, I simply wouldn’t believe. I don’t think I ever even thought Santa was real. I made a game each year of discovering where my parents hid the Christmas presents, then feigned surprise on the 25th.

Soon, my friends’ parents started dragging me to church on a regular basis. No matter the denomination, I’ve probably sat through a service or two. I’ve been to Catholic mass, Sunday school, Jehovah’s Witness’ sermons, and plenty of temple services. I don’t even know if my parents knew I was going to all this – but they probably would’ve been fine with it. But I was just left confused and bored.

Some of the parents even decided that I was a bad influence on their precious snowflakes because of my atheist beliefs, and I was banned from their homes. I was too young to understand the problem, and so was left hurt and puzzled. I dutifully attended church with my friends’ families, but never believed. I even accidentally took communion once since I thought it was snack time. The cracker was stale and dry – would it kill them to make the body of Christ taste a little better? Could we get a little Ritz action in there, maybe with a nice olive tapenade? My suggestions didn’t go over well with the other devout in line, but at least I wasn’t invited to that particular church again.

Religion still confuses me. My name is Israeli enough that people will spontaneously speak to me in Hebrew, which I don’t understand. Campus Hillel was all over me when I first came to college, but I declined their invitations. My freshman roommate was part of the Campus Crusade for Christ, so every evening became an impromptu Bible lesson. A Jehovah’s Witness friend in middle school forced me into Bible study circles on a regular basis, where I answered “Noah” to every question, much to annoyance of the circle leader. I feel more comfortable with the Christian holidays, but am rejected by many church-goers since my appreciation is apparently only skin-deep. But I also enjoy celebrating Jewish holidays with my extended family here in New York.

I guess I’ll just stick to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and 4th of July. Holidays with candy, turkey, and explosions are right up my alley.

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