Deb was clear from the very beginning about how important it was to her that her children are raised Jewish. She grew up in Peru, a predominantly Catholic country, with a tiny Jewish community consisting almost exclusively of people that had survived or escaped the Holocaust. Her grandmother survived three years in a camp and most of her family was wiped out.
I had a Bar-Mitzvah when I was 13. I went through the motions. There was even a time when I told my grandfather that I planned on continuing to go to Hebrew school. That was short-lived. In hindsight, I think it was more about wanting to please a man that I deeply admired.
I tried believing in God as a kid for a brief amount of time, but even then it just never felt right to me. I feel angry with the amount of damage that has been inflicted over the centuries in the name of organized religion.
When Eric was born, he had a Bris, which is a ritual circumcision. I didn't want it, but it was part of our agreement. I sat on the couch and cried when it was chop-chop time.
I have dealt with discussions about religion and religious events over the years really, really poorly. Please learn from my mistakes. I was outspoken in my derision and when I hear Eric today, at the age of 12, say that he used to be agnostic, but now he's an atheist. I won't lie that I feel a bit of pride, but I also know how much influence I have had. He has his own mind, but my heavy-handed approach was self-indulgent and damaging.
I don't mean that not believing in God has done him a disservice, or not liking religion. I mean that approaching something so personal and sensitive and complex with so much vitriol has not encouraged him to be expansive in his thinking.
I regret how I have behaved. If I could take it back, I would. There are ways to be true to one's values and beliefs without being destructive. I always equated participating in events and going along for the ride as selling out as opposed to doing something that was important to Debbie.
- I would participate more actively.
- Ask more questions instead of condemning.
- Propose other ways of looking at things that promote inclusiveness and exploration.
- Explore and focus on my own spirituality more.
- Curb the intensity of my criticism and talk more about it alone with Deb instead of in front of Eric.