“Who is Jesus?”
Of all the questions my daughter has about the two faiths we celebrate I find this question to be the one that makes me the most nervous. How can I possibly answer her without offending or discrediting our faiths?
My daughter asked this question last week after she noticed my mother wearing a cross. I do not have crosses hung in our house or any other specific religious ornaments other than mezuzahs (which my father in law insisted on hanging for protection). She was immediately intrigued with the necklace for two reasons. Mainly because she has never seen a cross necklace before, and partly because any type of shiny jewelry makes my princess-obsessed daughter giddy with excitement.
My mother explained that it was Jesus hanging on the cross. She quickly changed the subject. She would much rather have me explain religion to her because she insists on being the fun-loving grandmother. She does not want to say something that might be considered hurtful one way or another.
Later that night, I was inundated with questions about the cross and, mainly, Jesus. I have always tried to explain things to my daughter with honest mature answers. It is amazing to me how much she understands certain aspects of our two faiths. I told her my faith believes that Jesus was the Savior and came to die for our sins, and that Daddy’s faith, one she also shares, believes that Jesus was not the Savior. The part she responded to best was when I told her that Jesus was in fact Jewish. I ended the discussion telling her that sometimes people believe in different things and that when she is older she can decide what she believes or does not believe. I did not get into any additional specifics with regards to the differences and why they believe or do not believe that he was a Savior. I figured that can at least wait until she is 5!
Later that evening I told my husband that our older daughter Delanie started asking about Jesus. He rolled his eyes and asked what I had told her. I know my husband supports my religion (we had two wedding ceremonies, one of which was in a church) but for some reason, simply the name Jesus gives him anxiety. I don’t really understand why it bothers him so much and when I inquire he simply brushes it off. I think this is another reason why I try so hard to make the Jewish holidays an important part of our lives. I do not want him to feel that I would push our girls in either direction regarding their faith.
What I find not as scary about these talks is that they are really about life. There are times we disagree or do not understand why people feel a specific way, but it is important to be respectful. I imagine in the next few years I will have to answer a lot of questions about the differences in our faith, but I think it is important to show the similarities as well. Eventually she might also learn that she does not believe every single aspect that each faith teaches and that is OK, too. For me, the question about Jesus is not simply that one faith is right and one is wrong. It teaches me as a parent how, even at such a young age, I can encourage my daughter to accept differences in others, and also to remember that although we do not always agree, we all came from Adam and Eve. We are the same in our core.