This is my first time writing a God Moment. I was raised in a Jewish household among very culturally Jewish people. My father, the child of Holocaust survivors, was born in Israel and immigrated to this country in 1960. My mother’s family had been in this country for several generations and had been critical to the construction of several important synagogues in Brooklyn, New York. For most Americans, my family would be broadly painted as Jewish. Yet for us, we were a mixed family. On one side, I have a grandmother who was enslaved, beaten and tortured as a young child during the Holocaust, while on the other side I have a grandmother who was one of the first women to attend Stern Business School at NYU.
The differences are most apparent in how the two sides of the family speak and how they refer to God. My immigrant family speaks eight languages; the eighth being English. My American-born family speaks English primarily and can understand bits and pieces of other languages. This contrast alludes to a greater counterintuitive vein which sustains either group. My father’s family, the survivors of one of the worst genocides in human history, whose survival is nothing less than a feat of chance and luck, do not believe in God and are at the same time vehemently atheistic and Zionist. My mother’s family observed the Sabbath, kept a kosher household, and regularly attended synagogue.
This contradiction in faiths, within a culturally ancient brand, laid the foundation for an existence of questioning everything both Jewish and religious. A caveat to this line of thinking is that in Judaism, questioning the very existence of god is considered a form of prayer. The debate and Socratic dialogue between oneself and their conscience is encouraged. Thus, from the perspective of my religious family, denying the existence of God in many ways was a means of connecting to their own Creator.