Even though I’d still really like to be Jewish, I’m not doing a very good job of abandoning my Christian brainwashing. Recently one of my lucky-to-be-Jewish friends was telling me how her grandchild asked her (sotto voice since her younger sister was listening) whether their parents were really the tooth fairy. Thinking quickly, my friend cleverly suggested she could stay up all night to find out the answer for herself.
I said, stupidly, “Does she still believe in Santa Claus?”
“Well no, she’s Jewish,” my friend responded.
And then (I still can’t believe myself) I said, “What about the Easter Bunny?”
“Well no, she’s Jewish.” (Said with admirable restraint.)
I was conflating religion and culture, much the way our son did once when asked by a friend to sing “God Bless America.”
“I don’t know the words,” he replied. “We don’t go to church.”
Actually, that’s conflating religion and patriotism (or jingoism), the unfortunate result of a Reagan-Bush childhood.
But I can’t really blame Eisenhower for my myopia. Christian holidays are so woven into our culture that it almost seems natural to imagine a secular Santa or Easter Bunny, until you remember what’s being celebrated.
It’s lucky I figured all this out today, on the second Day of Repentance. I’m going to go apologize to her so God can change his book.