Being The Only Jew In A Catholic Family For The Holidays

Being The Only Jew In A Catholic Family For The Holidays

"Cashew" - a Catholic person who is now Jewish

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I was baptized as a Catholic. I made my 7 Sacraments as a Catholic. My family is made up of Irish and Italian Catholics, and my name is still registered with the Catholic Church. But, I am Jewish.

I decided to convert to Judaism when I started college. There is an amazing Jewish community here on campus and in the city and being a Jewish Studies minor, everything sort of led to me converting.

My parents were supportive; my mom was just happy I believed in something and had made so many new friends along the way, and my dad was pretty indifferent. I kept it a secret for a while from some of my family members, but eventually it got out, and of course, they were shocked.

One of the biggest questions I got after the initial shock was, "Well, what about Christmas?"

I haven't been to a Christmas Eve mass in years, so I didn't see why it mattered so much. After I made Confirmation, the last Sacrament a juvenile makes, I pretty much denounced Catholicism and decided to remain Agnostic for a few years before I found my place elsewhere, and that meant not going to church unless it was for a wedding, baptism, or funeral.

That wasn't what they meant, though. They meant, will I be celebrating Christmas still? Of course! Christmas has become so commercialized and more about presents and spending time with your family than about religious practices. I mean, the same thing goes for Hanukkah; it isn't even in the Hebrew Bible.

Just because I'm Jewish doesn't mean I'm going to give up celebrating Christmas with my family or even getting chocolate on Easter. It just means that I have learned to detach these holidays from religion. WIth Christmas, I feel like it's so much easier to celebrate in a Secular way than, say, celebrating Yom Kippur would be. Nobody wants to fast for 25 hours just for shits and gigs, ya know?

I wouldn't say that now it's awkward around Christmas time. During dinners, I'll sit silently while everyone says Grace and usually I'm reciting the Kaddish in my head. Hanukkah usually falls during Finals Week anyway, so I'm celebrating it away and either with my friends or alone. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and spread holiday cheer and whatnot. I'm not sitting in the corner like the Grinch muttering, "I'm Jewish."

This past year, I've gotten holiday cards for Hanukkah from my family, which was surprising, but also made me tear up a bit because it showed they accepted my Jewy-ness.

It may mean having to celebrate all of the Jewish holidays on my own, but what counts is the holidays that I've celebrated my whole life and getting to spend time with family that counts. And I'll proudly light my Menorah next to my Christmas tree like the Cashew I am.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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I Could Brag, But Why Should I?

Being humble instead of a handful.

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When it comes to the opportunities that have been presented to me, I have always been someone who prefers to remain levelheaded and grateful. I have never been the type of person to take things for granted, because I always knew that nothing is guaranteed to me, or to anyone, and nothing is permanent. This can, in part, be attributed to growing up part of a family that had been affected by cancer.

I have been able to remain humble, and I am, quite frankly, really proud of myself for that.

I have crossed paths with many people throughout my life who grew up in a manner that one might refer to as privileged or spoiled. Some of these people really showed it. I cannot speak for all of them, and it would be wrong to do so, because this generalization is one that feeds into negativity. However, I can fairly say that I have spent time with people who grew up in a world where all they knew was getting what they wanted, and honestly, I don't envy this.

When I was young, I dreamed of having a life where everything goes right. I think all of us have dreams like this at some point.

But as time went on, I began to realize, just like anyone, that life just simply doesn't work this way. Or at least, not for most of us. And you know what? That's okay. Actually, that's great. I think it's better that way.

The struggles and strife are what keep us appreciative of the other end of the spectrum. Without the bad, how do we learn to appreciate the good?

I could sit here and tell you I've been through a lot.

I could sit here and write all of the sob stories, the heartbreaks, the grief, the losses, the undeserved backstabs. I could ask for your pity, or your sympathy. But I won't, because that's not the point.

All of us have been through some sh*t, when it comes down to it. But what is telling is how we come out on the other side. Whether we allow those experiences to harden us and turn us into stone, or whether we take those experiences, let them shape our outlook, and use them as tools to grow into softer, wiser, more humble human beings, especially when we find ourselves in a time where things begin to go right for us.

I like to think I am the latter.

Right now, I find myself living the best life that I have thus far, and to be painfully honest here, I could brag. If I wanted to, I could brag about my wonderful friends and the incredible people I have in my life, whether they have been around for a while or only just joined the crew. I could brag about being able to follow my heart in New York City, which is home to my college campus and my dream summer internship. I could go on about the people I get to meet, the things I do, the places I go.

But what's the point? Why should I brag? To establish some bizarre feeling of superiority? To put myself on a pedestal? To use what the universe has brought me as a means of making others feel worse or inferior?

Why the hell would I want to do that? Why would anyone?

In times where we find our hearts happy and our lives fulfilled, sure, it can be easy to fall into a mindset that leads you to believe you are "better than". The real test is fighting this.

I can't say I have never given in and allowed myself to adopt that feeling. I don't really think any of us can sit here and pretend we have never ever acted superior, or felt it. We are human, after all.

But I don't think it is right to allow that feeling to take over, and I don't ever want to let that happen.

When that feeling takes over, we lose our graciousness. Our gratefulness. Our humbleness and humanity. We lose the things that make us, down to our cores, human.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound so good to me.

So, I will continue my daily commute thanking the universe for allowing me to have that. Even when the train is delayed, or the PATH train is crowded, or the tour groups take over the city sidewalks. I will continue to sit at my desk on days when work is slow and I will thank the universe for even giving me that desk, or that work.

I will continue to thank the universe for everything it brings me, because why shouldn't I?

Why shouldn't we all?

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