Let's Talk: Religion

Dear Collegeittes, it is our mission to produce content for you that is both stimulating and entertaining. We love our listicles and have so much fun interviewing you all for our profiles, but we decided that it’s time for something new. With that being said, we’d like to introduce to you this new column “Let’s Talk.” It is with that column that we hope to give our opinions on some hard-hitting, or dare we say controversial, topics.  As we keep our minds open about these topics, we ask that you do the same. We hope that the articles in this series get you thinking, and have you asking yourself questions.  So without further ado, let’s talk religion.

Growing up in a family with a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, religion was always something that was confusing to me. To make sure we had some sort of solid religious background, My older sister and I were brought up Jewish, rather than heavily studying both religions that were a part of our family. We attended Sunday school every weekend, Hebrew school every Wednesday, we both had our Bat Mitzvahs at age 13, and following that we had our Confirmations. With all of that being said, I had a stable religious background, knowledge of the Jewish faith, and was educated as far as what I should believe, but even then, I never really considered myself to be a “religious” person.

I feel grateful to have been brought up in an extremely open-minded family. My parents never forced me to believe in one specific thing, but they did feel it was important that I had some sort of religious background, which I also agree is important. As I went through my studies of the Jewish faith, I felt the more I learned, the less I believed, and I felt confused as to why I didn’t feel a connection to my faith, or to God. As I’ve grown older and I’ve had more experience and time to reflect on all of this, I realized that for me, my experience with organized religion was kind of screwed up, which I feel in turn, is the reason for my inability to connect with my religion today as a 22 year old.

I started to realize that the synagogue I attended, and some of the people in charge of running it, seemed to care more about whether or not I remembered to bring my tzedakah money, than about my well being, they started selling pricey tickets to attend high-holiday services, and at the end of the day, my view of religion became directly associated with money, greed and resentment, rather than love, learning and belief, and at that point, I had no religious faith what so ever. I though it was all a scam for money. I was probably 11 years old, and this is not the type of internal conflict a little girl should be dealing with, but I wanted to know, why didn’t I believe in God?

As I grew older, I watched several of my mother dearest friend deal with bitter hardship and illness, which resulted in desperate sadness for my entire family, but specifically, for my mom. It was at these points in my life that I felt I needed God, now more than ever, I needed faith, I needed that connection, and I needed a miracle. I turned to prayer, and tried to foster a connection. I kept thinking to myself, if there really is a God, someone who is supposed to watch over all of us and love of unconditionally, why do I keep seeing horrible things happen to the most wonderful people I know? I was confused, and once again, feeling extremely disconnected.

Later in life, I met some very important people who helped shape my life, one person in particular was the mother of the boy who I was dating at that time. She was (as still is) one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met, and her deep devotion to her religion and to Jesus Christ made we want to believe in something more than ever. I have always admired extremely religious people, maybe it’s because I never was one, but I thought they were inspiring, educational, and so full of love, and she was no exception. She was always there to answer the questions I had about religion (and trust me, I had a lot), and she never loved me less when I questioned how to believe, she simply helped to guide me in the directions that I needed to go, and assured me, whether I believe it at the time or not, that Jesus loved this little Jewish girl, and that God had a plan for me, and for some reason, that resonated with me.

As I grew older, I watched my own mother’s faith evolve. When I was younger, I never saw her a very religious person, and I’m not even sure if today I would call her “religious,” but she has become very spiritual, and that has also started to rub off on me. She believed there is a plan of us, she believes that everything happens for a reason, she believes in the power of a positive attitude, and she believes in something bigger than herself.  When is came to religion, my mom was always the type of person that never felt a label was necessary, it didn’t matter to her what category her beliefs fell into, if they followed the path of Judaism, or if she had believes from several different religious groups, all that mattered to her was that she had something in her heart that she believed in and felt a connection with, and I always felt that was one of her most admirable qualities. She never made herself pick what mattered to her based on what her religion told her, she believed in what made her happy, and isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Love you mom!

To this day, I like to joke to people that I’m just kind of “Jew-ish.” My family and I celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas and Passover and Easter and so on, and I am basically a melting pot of religious confusion, but I don’t really care. Honestly, I still don’t really know what I believe in, or if I believe in anything, but I know I have a good set of morals that help guide me through life. I know that I believe in the power of love, and I know that I believe in the importance of being a good person. I know I believe in keeping an open mind, and I know I believe in being the best version of myself, and for now, that’s enough for me. I’m not saying that don’t believe in God, or in some powerful force that is larger than myself, but I’m still in the frame of mind that I don’t know what I believe, and I think that’s okay. 

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