Florence, Converts, #(2062)

Sep 15, 2014

It took a little while to realize I did not believe in god. I grew up in a pretty observant Conservative Jewish household that kept kosher, had two sets of dishes, went regularly to temple, got bat mitzvahed, the whole nine yards. When my dad’s mom died from cancer at 63, he ripped his shirt, donned tefillin and grew a beard. It was expected the four of us would marry Jews. No question. Still, we lived in southern New Jersey and I don’t mean Cherry Hill. We were among the five or so families who were not Christian. Christmas was gigantic in this town. Main street was decorated with wreathes and trees and there are four churches within the 1/3 mile main drag. So. I went to the University of Maryland at College Park because my mother said, “it’s at least 30% Jewish, you’ll find someone there.” The first semester I tried. I really did. I went to a dinner at Chabbad, a Shabbot at Hillel. I felt so awkward. These people were not like me. I couldn’t find a single thing appealing about them. And I felt so guilty. In the mean time, there was this Southern Baptist kid on my dorm room floor a few doors down. We became best friends. We would end up married. After some large hiccups with getting married to a NON JEW, my parents seemed to get over it and everything was cool for awhile. In my head, I mean. Then we started to have kids. After a couple of years I realized maybe I should do something about religion. Right? Isn’t that what good parents do? Involve their kids in a church or a temple or something? So they can be morally grounded? Well. It was NOT going to be a church. And my husband thankfully agreed we could raise them Jewish. Hooray! So that was easy, right? Yeah, not so much. I enrolled my 3 year old in a Jewish preschool and was instantly inundated with pushy emails and flyers telling me what events were coming up, what Jewish holidays I have to gear up for (there are so many!) and did I get my seats yet for the high holidays?? Oh My God (ha). I started thinking about it. Wait. Did I really want to go to services? Do I really want to sit there for hours on end in temple turning to page 243, reciting some nonsense in Hebrew that I don’t understand (even if it is translated on the other side in English) and then quietly pretending to speak to something in the air that everyone calls ‘God’? Do I? No. I didn’t. So I certainly couldn’t force my kid to either. After she finished her year I took her someplace else. My husband was confused at first but then he stopped asking questions when I started to say I wasn’t really sure I even believed in god. I said, “I don’t understand praying. I don’t get the idea of sitting in a room with a hundred people, asking or begging or hoping for something and addressing the air above you, the sky, the – the I don’t know WHAT! What IS that? Humans can do things, humans can help, HUMANS can ease your suffering, or pain or get you through your shit. Not some unknown thing.” Then some time went by and I did a little research. By this time I had two kids. I found some websites that spoke about atheism and it was then I knew. I do no believe in god. And I don’t think I ever have. Oh by the way: after I told my parents I was an Atheist, they said, “Us too!” What?! Whatever.

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