I was raised in an interfaith home.
I don’t mention this as an aside.
I mention it because it is one of the cornerstones of my childhood.
And that’s saying something, as I was lucky enough to have a pretty damn amazing childhood.
Not only are my parents different religions, but they are both very involved in their communities of faith. My mom serves on the vestry at church and my dad is treasurer of the temple. They socialize with each other’s respective faith group and compare notes after Thursday night meetings, often laughing at the similarities of the discussions.
Several years ago when my mom was in the hospital recovering from surgery, a nurse poked her head in the room and confusedly explained that her rabbi was there for a visit…confusedly, because my mom’s minister had left about five minutes prior.
I had the privilege of growing up in a home where tolerance and respect for our differences didn’t have to be taught — it was a given. It was the only way I knew.
My brother and I were baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church, where we spent most Sunday mornings, performed in the Christmas pageants and sang in the choir. We also lit the candles at Hannukah, attended services at temple on the High Holy Days and participated in Passover seders long before we were old enough to remember. (In case you were wondering what happens when you give a baby a whole lot of matzah washed down with a whole lot of apple juice — it ain’t good). We showed the same enthusiasm for finding the afikoman that we did for finding our Easter baskets.
It never occurred to me that this was “weird” or “different.” It was all I knew. It was the same for many of my friends. And as such, I didn’t value it for what it was at the time — it was just normal. It was my normal.
Then I went to away to college where I got a harsh dose of reality that quickly showed me that my little interfaith bubble of tolerance and respect was just that — a bubble.
My freshman year I wrote about my interfaith upbringing for an English class, and a classmate told me (rather matter-of-factly, I might add), that I was the spawn of the devil.
Because my parents are different religions.
There were many more experiences like this one. Both in college, grad school, and beyond. Each one opened my eyes further and showed me what a rare gift I have. I am beyond grateful for my interfaith upbringing and the perspective on the world that it has allowed.
And I have to tell you. The world makes my heart hurt a bit right now.
I don’t understand the seemingly ceaseless string of hate and anger and the resulting hurt and suffering, due in large part to an intolerance of our differences.
Regardless of our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, family structure, favorite color or what you had for dinner last night, we are all human. We have far more in common than we have different.
We want to love and be loved.
We want to see those who matter the most to us love and be loved.
We want a dry place to lay our head at night.
We make mistakes.
And through it all, we remain human.
Unfailingly, imperfectly human.
All of us.
“In writing it down you realize, love is not a tragedy or a failure, but a gift…that nothing in this world is deserved except for love. That love is how you become a person and why.” — John Green Turtles All the Way Down