I’ve spent the last two days in temple celebrating Rosh Hashanah but for some reason this year I’m not feeling it. Perhaps it’s because I only show up for the high holidays and each year it’s the same story of Isaac and Abraham and Hannah and Peninah. My Jewish experience is so limited. Rabbi Mo is at the top of his game with sermons about living in the moment and about coming home to family. I hoped my 15 year old grasped his lesson about how everything you do affects those around you. But still the year 5770 is not stirring me like Days of Awe in the last few years. So I decided to do something different. My friend Kathy, suggested I read the book “The Faith Club” so during these 1o days I’m reading it and really thinking about how I feel about religion. My friend Susan MacCaulay who has a website called “Amazing Women Rock(http://amazingwomenrock.com) out of Dubai said she’d link to my musings.
“The Faith Club” is a book written by three women, Ranya Idliby who is Muslim, Suzanne Oliver who is Christian and Priscilla Warner who is Jewish. It is a very honest recount of their meetings over time and their exploration of what unites and divides them. I love this book for its candor. The women are fearless in their desire to confront each other and grow in interfaith friendship and understanding. They beat down stereotypes and shared controversial points of view. We are told never to talk about religion but they did and it was transcendent. As I write this I’m only on page 80. I have lots to read but I’m inspired to write and search for greater understanding.
On the way back from temple today my son Kyle and I were arguing. Why was I wasting his time making him go? Why can’t we go to the temple by our house where his friends go? For that matter why can’t he just be Christian? I feel a great connection to Israel and the Jewish culture but I’m finding it difficult to pass it along to my children. I was never raised Jewish because my father suffered too much during the Holocaust. His parents were killed in the concentration camps. I came back to my heritage and to Judaism when I became a mother. I didn’t want my children to grow up in a vacuum. My father tried to talk me out of it because he felt I would be persecuted. My parents went a long ways to spare me the pain of being Jewish in what they perceived was an anti-semitic world. They sent me to an Episcopal School and I sang in a Catholic choir. To this day I love the traditions of the Catholic Church and in some ways I envy born again Christians for the way their faith fills them and for their one way certainty. At the same time my Jesus envy ends when my kids say “come Lord Jesus be our guest” at the dinner table every time my Lutheran in-laws come to visit or when there is so much hate and dogmatic thinking in the name of religion. What would Jesus do? Certainly not kill doctors at abortion clinics. I don’t believe there is just one way and all religious zealots make me want to scream. Why can’t we all just get along?
I will continue to blog on this subject as I read the book. It is my project during these Jewish holidays. I wish I had a faith club to help me process this so perhaps if anyone reads my blog we can dialogue and learn more about each other’s faiths. I wish for the courage the women in “The Faith Club” have to speak openly and honestly and I would love to find like minded people who would enjoy sharing their journeys as well. I’m just getting to the portion of the book where Ranya speaks of the difficulties in being Muslim in America. Tonight in Denver, Najibullah Zazi and his father, Mohammed, were arrested as part of an ongoing terror investigation. I’m sure it’s making a moderate Muslim like Ranya cringe. Fear and misunderstanding. As all faiths go through the year we need more to unite us rather than divide us.
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