I made challah for services tonight. You know, me, the non-Jew, atheist heathen, providing the bread for the end of service ritual. It was a good night. I made the loaves for services, plus a large loaf for the ceremony tomorrow for a boy who will becoming a bar mitzvah. That is my favorite part about my challah-making … when I’m asked to make the ceremonial loaf for a 13-year-old boy or girl who is about to go through this ritual that is so important in their religion. It is the day when they become an adult in the eyes of the fellow Jews. When they are viewed as capable of reading and interpreting the Torah and offering their opinions on the Torah.
I have often said that if I were to be religious, I would be a reform Jew and I would have an incredibly comfortable home at B’nai Israel in Sacramento. They are so community and family oriented and so supportive of all kinds.
The third Friday of each month, the young adult group (kind of like the temple’s 20-30 club) gathers for dinner before services. I made an extra loaf of challah for them to enjoy with their meal and they invited me to join them. Everybody at the table discussed how they were raised Jewish. Me, I got to tell them about being raised Catholic, becoming an atheist, marrying a Jewish woman, and being thrilled at raising my kids Jewish. OK, maybe thrilled is the wrong word … let’s say I’m very supportive of the idea.
It was an interesting conversation and motivated me to stick around for services, something I rarely do. And, here’s where I experienced the highlight of my evening. This weekend’s bar mitzvah is for an african-american boy, adopted by two middle-aged (at least they’re middle-aged now, maybe not 13 years ago), white, gay men. When the rabbi called the boy to the bima (altar) and his dads stepped up with him, I just thought it was an incredible moment that says something about the progress we are making. Where two Jewish white men, who love each other, were afforded the opportunity to adopt an african-american child, raise them in their faith, in a loving home, and there is no shame in it. Only pride and happiness. Just incredible.
The positive vibe of all this was destroyed however, when I got home and read this. I will never ever take away or criticize an individual’s right to have their own faith and belief system. Yes, I occasionally write about my issues with religion. But my issues are always with religion, not the faith that individuals have. Religion — you know the hypocrisy of the Catholic church, or the horrible things that have been done in the name of religion. But, again, you have the right to believe in your god. You have the right to believe in heaven and hell. You have the right to believe in prayer. And, guess what, I admire you for your beliefs and your faith. I don’t think you’re stupid for your beliefs. I don’t think you’re close-minded because of your faith. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to believe in the power of prayer. Believe as you wish. Have faith as you wish.
You know what, Mr. Living Notebook, you can take your blog and shove it up your ass. You don’t have a clue what atheists think, how they live their lives, or what motivates them. It’s simple, they don’t think as you do, therefore, there must be something wrong. Anybody who doesn’t share your faith is stupid and doesn’t get it. Anybody who doesn’t want to believe as you do … oh, hell. Let me repeat myself, shove it up your ass.