The Rabbi, the Muslim, and Me
by Brian G., New City, NY Jews rock! In my upper-middle-class town of New City, it's not uncommon to see a Jew or two. In fact, they're all around. No, I'm not talking about the Hasidim who roam the streets on Shabbat wearing their designer black overcoats, but rather your average reform Jewish person who is supposed to be liberal enough to accept all walks of life. Being one of these people, I am expected to love every person and idea equally, but that is not the case. It is not that I dislike anyone; I am immensely proud of being Jewish.
About a year ago, my Hebrew school visited a Catholic church to meet a man by the name of Father Gus. I pictured the event in my head: we would knock on a large wooden door and out would come a bald man weighing 270 pounds and wearing a robe with no shoes. Instead, at the church, I saw a slim man wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Jeans and a t-shirt? And where was the chanting in the background? Am I in the "Twilight Zone"? I then learned that Catholicism and Judaism have basically the same principles. Sure, we do disagree about the Messiah thing. Also, unlike Jews, Catholics have a "ranking" of priests where the Pope is considered closest to God.
My Hebrew school recently had other visitors: Muslims. I thought, Everybody run for cover. They're going to bomb us! Not quite. We shared pizza and conversed about our religion and social lives. Like us, Muslims are not allowed to eat pork (even though Jews like me who are not kosher seem to ignore that rule). While Jewish people follow Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the first three prophets, the Muslims follow Abraham, Isaac and his brother Ishmael, Jacob and his brother Lot, and the rest of the family all the way to Muhammad. Muslims also have a book called the Quran, which is almost identical to the teachings of our Torah (only the Quran is larger). However, one thought still bothered me: "What about Farakkan and his Nation of Islam?" I found out that not only does Farakkan's Nation of Islam not agree with the "real" Islam (which preaches love and peace), but Muslims have the same anger as Jews toward Farakkan's "issues."
Jews rock! But actually, I guess Catholics and Muslims and everyone else rock too. The world may not be safer after these meetings, but at least one mind has been enlightened. Oy gevalt!
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.