My background is a secular one, but as a child I was surrounded by quite a few churches strewn about. So, when I was very little ... there was a time when we were forced to go to Sunday school; and, we were disturbed by every moment of it. It was a different era, you see, where children were seen but not heard. So, I guess you can only imagine it if you didn’t share this same experience in some form or another. Later, after coming of age and attending art school, my mind told me to push all the limits—nothing was off the table—at least until the year I was propositioned by both of my favorite teachers, one female and one male, to take our relationship to the next level; not in an obtuse way, mind you, but very respectfully and considerate of my feelings and blossoming desires at the time. Thankfully, I had already met my soul-mate and learned enough under-grad-world-religion to know that I was actually a Jew born into the body of a Goy. I loved growing up as a non-Jew, but not as much as having ultimately found my people-dom.
It’s a complex thing, “people-dom.” I came from a ‘people,’ but I became aware of another, and possibly a more suitable people. I had already traversed Christian theologies, from Episcopalian as a child to Jehovah’s Witnesses as a young adult. I even explored the local Hare Krishna Temple to be sure of my path, but ultimately, after reading cover-to-cover from my father’s (exploration into other realms in collage) Khumash, I found something that resonated with my soul. The Five Books of Moses spawned everything in the western world, I told myself at the time. The underlying philosophy of Judaism didn’t attempt to deny or omit other faiths, I told myself at the time. And, at the time, I was ready to build the world into something that made sense to me, and could (I told myself at the time to feel comfortable dipping my toes into...) maybe make sense to others.
I converted to Judaism in LA. My parents came to support me. I dunked under the living waters and came out anew as I connected to the Creator of the Universe using ... mere words to do so! Then, as I stumbled forward into the unknown, I spent the next 20 years trying to understand the people-dom I had joined. Finally (but not really), I let go of my ego-driven attempt to control my growth in the world … and I moved to the Holy Land only to be dunked again. And then I left adolescence and the real metamorphosis began. But, I found myself becoming so far away from my childhood roots that I almost forgot... almost... and yes, then the world submerged under corona-lock-down and I had a window of space to remember with. Last week I visited my brother, whose children are steeped in Baptist theology, and I broke bread with my uncle Bob (yes, Bob’s my uncle), and I listened to the faith and love they espoused. I could finally listen and be comforted by their belief in their faith. I could finally understand that we are ‘ALL’ ONE; and, I also finally understood, in that moment, something that I hadn't from the beginning. I finally knew that I was a Jew.
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