I have been told I am one of the chosen people. I question if they mean chosen for persecution and jokes about being cheap. According to a group of born again Christians I met in high school, I was chosen for a more positive endeavor. If I took Jesus as my savior, my destiny would be fulfilled and I could enter into a holy covenant with God. I was skeptical but figured, I should learn more about it. What the hell, right? I mean, why not?
My introduction to the glee club of Jesus enthusiasts was a senior named Keith (names are changed so he doesn’t end up hating me) who is still the warm hearted welcoming guy I befriended in Latin class. Where better to get into the scriptures than in a class studying the language of ordinary Christians of the Roman Empire?
I was a junior at the time, not the most hated girl in my class but far from well liked. In fact, I noticed the only time I saw my friends outside of school was when I initiated it and, as a test of their loyalty to me, I stopped calling all of them. They proved to be as loyal as Brutus to Caesar. I was drowning in low self esteem.
On my sweet sixteen, I took one of my sister’s razor blades (I’m not sure if she used it for shaving or for cocaine) and locked myself in my room, loudly threatening to slit my wrists. My father screamed through my locked door that if I was going to do it, I should do it in the bathtub so I don’t make a mess. No friends, no compassion at home. Like a prisoner who turns to Jesus when in despair, I turned to a friendly group of teen age born again Christians.
I had long one on one conversations with several of them about the Bible and proof of creation (if we can’t procreate with apes, how could we have descended from them? Duh, Darwin and Leakey). I delved into the myth that Jews have horns (some people still believe this) because of the Moses sculpture by Michelangelo and even had a meeting with a rabbi about this. Keith confided in me he abstained from sex with his girlfriend, citing his reverence to God and the Bible. Another friend in the group said if you have sex before marriage you will be turned away from the pearly gates. His analogy was that if you crack an egg to make an omelette and a piece of the shell gets in, the egg is ruined and you have to throw it away. If we give into our carnal temptations, then we are like that egg and heaven can’t have a bunch of crunchy omelettes running around in it. (I have since then started picking out bits of shell every time a piece gets in when I crack an egg.)
Keith invited me to a weekend Bible study retreat in December. I don’t remember much about the activities, but I’m sure we talked about Jesus and sang songs. I do remember being told by several people how lucky I was to be Jewish since Jesus was Jewish and so by default I was in some kind of higher category than the rest of them. I thought Jesus would view us all equally but what did I know.
Even Christians had big hair in the 80’s.
The one thing I most clearly remember is that the retreat fell during one of the 8 days of Hanukkah. I didn’t know the Hebrew prayer recited over the menorah and I didn’t have a menorah with me. But I felt like if I didn’t do something I would be a traitor to my born faith. So I found a candle and stepped outside by myself and said a prayer. I think it was about hoping to find a way out of my religious confusion. I also apologized to God for not knowing the appropriate prayer for Hanukkah. All I knew was Amen.
After the retreat I abandoned the Bible studies and Christian social functions and focused on learning about the Judaism. It seemed the harder the born agains pushed to lead me to salvation through the Good Shepherd, the more I dove into Judaism. The following year, I fasted for Yom Kippur for the first time.
A zillion years later, I moved to Colorado, reconnected with Keith through Facebook and found out he is not only no longer a Christian but also an outspoken critic of Christianity. He is also gay so it was probably more than respect for Christian values that kept him from sleeping with his high school girlfriend.
I needed the born agains during my lonely junior year of high school. Jesus didn’t save me but in a way they did. Wrapped in self pity, I felt like a loser, unpopular and unloved. The Bible kids may not have succeeded with their evangelical goals, but unbeknownst to them, I was not seeking religion. I was desperate for people to want to be around me. They may have had ulterior motives, but I didn’t care. I’m still not sure if the Jews are the chosen people. I’m just glad I chose to hang out with that group of Christians.