Thursday, July 21, 2005

Me, Chapter 1

I couldn't think of any very clever title for this, and I loathe the word "Testimony" when used to describe someone's spiritual journey. Several people have asked me to write about how I got to the place I'm in, and how a Jewish girl from Temple Judea became a Catholic woman at Holy Family.

I suppose I should start by saying I think I have always had a religious nature. I can't remember a time when I didn't believe in God. I suppose I sometimes felt that God didn't take too much of an interest in me, but I never thought He wasn't there.

We went to a classical Reform temple, and everyone my parents socialized with went there too. We went every single Friday night, all the holidays, I was Bat Mitzvah'd and I went to Sunday school until "confirmation". Orthodox and Conservative synagogues do not have "confirmation", or organs and choirs etc, but the Reform Movement modelled itself after the German Lutheranism, stylistically, so they do.

I'd listen to the Bible stories and I loved them, but I remember once, asking the teacher, why we didn't do the things God said to do in the Bible, and her answer was something like.....well our religion has evolved...or something lame like that. When I was in , I think, Fourth Grade, I had a dream I was flying through space with angels, singing a song of praise to God. I was very excited, so I told the Cantor (this is an ordained position in Reform, and our Cantor was a trained opera singer), who I adored. I asked him if he thought it had come from God.He smiled condescendingly and told me "We Jews don't belief in that sort of thing." Now, to be fair, it probably freaked him out and maybe he was worried that I was hearing voices , and he didn't want to encourage too fertile an imagination. Fair enough, but I knew my dream came from God.

Anyway I was the classic Jewish girl from "Lawn Guyland", and I even went to Israel when I was 16 years old. Becoming a Christian was totally out of the question....and becoming Catholic? Well, for a start I wasn't Italian or Irish, so it was a complete non-starter. My parents religious life was mostly about being ethnically eastern European Jewish, and reminiscing about what their grandmother's cooked. Speaking Yiddish when they didn't want us to know something, and then wringing their hands that the younger generation didn't know the language...

Then I went to college, and learned that the phrase " I suggest you go to the doctor" was far more preferable to the phrase I'd learned from my mother " You'll go to the doctor". They mean the same thing, but Gentiles with delicate sensibilities think you are bossing them around. I learned other things too, like when you went to the Jewish group at the Student Union, and you didn't know that the prayer book is called the "Sidur" ( after a childhood of supposed Jewish education), they didn't want you.

See, they could have had me at hello, but in those days the whole "outreach to the unafiliated" thing hadn't been worked out.
To be continued........