Tag Archives: religion

I Celebrate It All

I call myself a “cashew” for fun. I’m a Catholic-Jew I tell people. My whole life, I have been fortunate enough to be part of a multi-faith family. My mom is Jewish and my dad is Catholic. What does that mean exactly? The easiest way to explain it is to tell you that I celebrate everything. We have Christmas and Hannukah; Easter and Passover. We aren’t a religious family by any means, neither of my parents were particularly dedicated to their religions. I didn’t grow up going to church or temple nor did I have a communion or bat mitzvah (lost out big time on those!), but we always celebrated and shared the holidays together. In the end, being with family is what sticks out the most.

Growing up, I felt like the only Jewish kid in town. Not in a bad way, but no one knew what Hannukah was and in 1987 we didn’t get 15 days off during the year for holidays like Yom Kippur or Passover like kids do now. In my world, everyone went to CCD and celebrated Christmas. It never really bothered me, as I got to basically participate in what everyone else did. Plus, I got to play my Jew card. I didn’t have to go to school on certain obscure holidays and as I got older, I could take off work or leave early for the same reason. However, if I didn’t celebrate Christmas, I think I might have felt differently if I was ONLY Jewish; somewhat sad that I wasn’t part of holidays that were so commercially promoted and in your face.

When I moved to a new town, I noticed a lot of people were Jewish. There were more Jewish people here than I think I have known in my entire life. In fact, I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful group of friends and they are ALL Jewish. I am the only one decorating a Christmas tree and hiding eggs on Easter. I’m suddenly the religious minority in my adult life, like I was during childhood.

This time of year, I notice it even more, as my friends are getting ready to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (it’s 5776 in case you’re wondering). They’re cooking and making plans to visit family and it’s a whole big event. It’s nothing like when I grew up in my small mountain town and it’s kind of nice to see how people embrace these holidays. In my family, if we could make it happen with everyone’s crazy schedules, we did. We’d eat brisket and challah and dip some apples in honey (just to make my mom happy). And if it didn’t work out, we’d skip it and maybe have a “Jewish meal” some other time during the year.

Even though I am surrounded by a lot more Jewishness during this time in my life, I don’t feel any more Jewish, or Catholic, than I used to. I’m married to a man who is Catholic, who doesn’t go to church and isn’t religious himself. He eats matzoh balls and chicken soup and I eat ham and lasagna when the holidays roll around. We have a daughter who is obsessed with Christmas and likes spinning a dreidel and my hope is that is how she lives her life from here on out: spinning dreidels, decorating trees, hunting for eggs, lighting candles on the menorah and eating delicious random holiday food. And most importantly, being with family. Because that’s the way life should be and we are fortunate enough to be able to do it all. L’Chaim. Amen.

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(Supporting) Obama and the Birth Control Debate

Today, President Obama is retooling his decision requiring religious employers to cover birth control for their employees and instead, make insurance companies directly responsible for providing free contraception. I applaud the President for trying to find a common ground while still providing birth control to those in need, but I find the religious right’s opposition on this a bit confusing.

Catholic Church leaders, Republicans and other social conservatives have denounced this as an attack on religious freedom. But what if you are Jewish or Muslim and work for a Catholic employer such as a hospital or university? Hell, what if you are Catholic and work for these organizations? Does that mean you shouldn’t be entitled to low cost or free contraception if you choose? I understand the outcry of mixing church and state, but what about privacy and women’s rights? Who is an employer to tell women they won’t provide them with preventative measures to ensure they don’t get pregnant because of their religious beliefs? Why is that any of their business?

And let’s get real for a moment. Many, if not all of those defending the original decision to provide birth control at no cost to women are anti-abortion. Hey, they have that right, but how can one condemn abortion so harshly, yet not provide women with the contraceptives they need in order prevent them from being put in such a situation? I mean, it’s common sense, isn’t it? The church doesn’t believe in abortion, but it also doesn’t believe in birth control, so therefore, we should just hope and pray the old age “pull out” method works and cross our fingers that we don’t get pregnant, even though there are measures we can take to prevent it. Are you f*ing serious?

Ironically, polls indicate a majority of Americans and Catholics support the rule according to Reuters. A Public Religion Research Institute poll taken last week found 55 percent of Americans want employers to provide healthcare plans that cover contraception and birth control, including nearly six in 10 Catholics.

I think it’s amazing that this plan will allow all women to obtain free or lost cost contraceptives, especially since 99 percent of women have relied upon some type of birth control during their lifetimes. With so many unplanned pregnancies in this world, shouldn’t we do all we can to prevent women and young girls from having to deal with one? It feels like an oxymoron if one doesn’t support abortion, yet won’t make contraceptives available to those who want to prevent unintended pregnancies.

In Support of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for a variety of reasons. I love the time of year in which it falls and the traditions my family and I have built around the occasion. Plus, being both Jewish and Catholic, it’s nice to just celebrate without having to bring religion into the mix.

I feel bad for Thanksgiving though because it’s like the red-headed stepchild of Halloween and Christmas. As soon as Halloween is over, I jump at the thought that we’ll soon be cooking turkey, making stuffing and spending time with family and friends.  Sadly, as soon as Halloween is over for most, especially retailers, we are thrown right into Christmas. Can’t we give Thanksgiving a chance?

I know Christmas is the holiday almost everyone (who celebrates that is) gets most excited about. Advertisers throw out the big guns to make those end-of-year profits, kids get excited for presents and let’s be honest, who can compete with Santa Claus? But over the last few years, Christmas has been making an early appearance on TV and in stores, leaving poor Thanksgiving in the dust.

Even when Thanksgiving does get some props, it’s mostly because of Black Friday sales and the start of the holiday shopping season. And these days, deals are being launched before you even put down your drumstick!

I don’t need to be swayed, but I hope that I can convince some of you to enjoy one holiday at a time. Give Thanksgiving a chance – don’t let it be trampled on by Christmas trees and tinsel. Be thankful for the occasion that reminds us to give thanks for all we have and shows us that holiday is truly about family and friends, not Black Friday deals and doorbusters.