FROM APRIL 2019
When my first husband and I were getting married, he was vaguely Protestant, though no one in his family knew what kind of protestant. They never attended church and while they were wild about Christmas, it was a very non-Christian version.
I’m not even sure they were Christian, but they weren’t anything else. I think it’s possible on the paternal side of the family, they might have been Jewish several generations back, then drifted into Christianity because they weren’t Jewish enough to stay with it.
Thus when my granddaughter was hitting eight or nine and Passover and Easter were approaching, I asked Kaity what Easter was about. She had never heard of Jesus or Christianity — or for that matter, Judaism. She was sure that Easter was about baskets of sweets. She didn’t love chocolate (what other child doesn’t love chocolate?) — but preferred hard-boiled eggs. Okay, then.
In a Jewish family, religion comes through mom, but in Christianity, it come through dad. In theory, she could have swung either way.
Owen was Jewish because he had a Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem. In Israel, it was what you did. Here, in a this very Christian valley with dozens of churches and not a single synagogue, it made more sense to find her a Protestant niche. Later, if life took her into “choices of religion,” she could make up her own mind. First, though, she needed to know enough to even think about a deciding. I didn’t feel I could raise her as a Jew. I don’t practice Judaism. I like Jewish food, Jewish people, and deeply appreciate Jewish law. But the whole religion? Nope.
I studied in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem because I wanted to know more, but I always knew I’d never be Orthodox. This was a big disappointment to my teachers who thought my interest and intellectual involvement would lead to a religious commitment. They didn’t “get” (most people don’t) that I love learning for its own sake, but it doesn’t mean I’m committed to anything except education.
So I know a lot about Judaism, but not much about how to “be” Jewish. I also know a lot about Christianity, because I studied that too and even converted to it, though I practice it to the exact same degree that I practice Judaism — which is to say, I don’t.
I am religiously non-dogmatic. I am pretty sure I believe in something, but I don’t have any idea what. Not nothing, but not much of something.
In this case, Garry and I felt some version of pediatric religion was necessary. I didn’t expect Kaitlin to make religion her life, but I thought she needed to know that Christ was not a chocolate bunny and Judaism is a religion, not a bad word you call someone. You can’t choose if you don’t know anything.
To my great relief, as she has entered adulthood, she is happily practicing nothing, considers herself nominally protestant — and prefers eggs to chocolate.