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The Clash of Religion: A Sister's Point of View

How do we bring religion into the lives of a child who has not yet learned to walk or even talk? Bringing up a child is difficult, as we are faced everyday with decisions that will shape him or her for better or worse. It's even more difficult when the decisions are made by parents who come from different religious backgrounds. That is the conflict that has insinuated its way into my family. It is the first time that something has really divided us from one another.

Do people base their child-rearing decisions on what they have learned through their own experiences as a child? I absolutely think so. Influence on a child at a young age can and usually does leave a profound impression. That is why my family and I were shocked when my brother Paul announced that he and his wife would be baptizing their newborn son.

When we were growing up, my family and I celebrated all the Jewish holidays. When my brother Paul was thirteen, my mom took him to synagogue to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. I remember even up until last year, Paul went to synagogue for the holiest of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur.

Two years ago my brother married his girlfriend, Judie, of a few years. The wedding was one that did not represent either his or her religious faith. It was a neutral ceremony. And so everyone from both sides of the family was more than happy to attend. Then last summer Judie became pregnant with their first child. They named him Gabriel. When I asked Paul why he chose that name, he said that's what Judie decided. So it was evident early on that he started to lean more and more towards his wife's ideas.

It shows that he has been influenced by his wife to baptize his son. It also shows that he is willing to sacrifice his own beliefs that he was brought up with and compromise to make his wife happy. He made that decision without consulting my parents or anyone else from his side of the family for that matter. This situation was very confusing to me and I had many mixed emotions. The worst part of this for me was seeing my mom so sad and upset.

The shock did not end there. Not only was it disappointing to find out that he made this decision on his own and did not value his parents' opinions, but he also demanded that everyone in his side of the family be there to support him and celebrate this ceremony. He sent me an email the day before the baptism with the directions and time. He had never mentioned it to me directly until that day, but of course I had heard about it through my parents. I did not attend, nor did my mother, because we both agree on the same basic principle: you cannot abandon your past. Also, I appreciate my mother with all my heart and would do anything to make her happy.

Now I am left in an awkward position. Since I didn't attend the ceremony I am afraid that Paul and his wife are going to be upset with me for a long time. This situation is not fair: I didn't make the decision, he did; and I guess he will have to learn to live with my decision to not attend the baptism as he has made his decision to raise his child a Catholic.

I still love my nephew no matter what religion he is, and I miss him a lot. I hope to go over to their house very soon. It's just sad that my mom has not spoken to her son in such a long time. My mother has said that because my brother is raising his son a Catholic, it will not bring him good luck. I hope that my family will learn to move on after this cools off, especially my mom, and hopefully come to terms with everything.

It was one of the worst holiday seasons for us. Thank God that the New Year is here. Now there is a chance for a new beginning and a new hope of better things to come.

Hebrew for "son of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish boys come of age at 13. When a boy comes of age, he is officially a bar mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bar mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The female equivalent is "bat mitzvah." Hebrew for "Day of Atonement," the final of ten Days of Awe that begin with Rosh Hashanah. Occurs during the fall and is marked by a 24-hour fast. One of the most important Jewish holidays. Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple."

Marylin Greene is an administrative assistant and a website designer.

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