Thursday, 1 October 2015

From Catholic to Jewish

By Maria Camila Franco, undergraduate FIGRI, 6th semester, English through Multimedia elective)

Religion in general is a very controversial topic to talk about around the world, especially because there are many types and their different ideologies are the cause of conflicts today. Colombia is a country in which religion plays a relevant role, focused on strong Catholicism beliefs and customs. However, it is important to highlight how the Catholic Church is losing strength and every year there are thousands of catholic followers that stop practicing the religion’s traditions. This could be a consequence of the new reality, because nowadays, being a more open-minded society, religion is not imposed. It is more of a choice.

Even though the Catholic religion has a big influence in the daily life of Colombian people, sources affirm that this religion has not been able to respond to the different cultural, social, political and economic changes that have occurred through the evolution of society. Besides these changes, migrations are events, which have given place to other religious’ practices, for example, the Jewish religion.

Since 1945, the Jewish community has had an important participation in the country’s development. Even though there are approximately 7,000 Jewish citizens they are considered to have a high educational level, and most of them are recognized as being leaders in the business world.

In comparison to Catholicism and Protestantism, Judaism is the one that puts away religion’s rules and it is very common to hear that they do not believe in “God.” However, usually they want a religious education for their children. In addition, it is well known for being a closed community with strict traditions and faithful followers, which finds it extremely difficult to accept people from other religions because they were not instilled with the same values since they were children.

But what about a person that has decided to change her catholic beliefs and customs that she has been practicing since she was born and because of destiny has decided to change her lifestyle and become Jewish? Well, that is the story of Adriana from Cali, who decided to change her catholic beliefs and started to live as a Jewish woman.

Everything began when Adriana’s friend visited her at work with a man that had just arrived from Israel and that is when Adriana met Saul.

Saul is half-German and half-Israeli. He had left Cali when he was 17 years old and moved to Israel with his family. 10 years later, he came back to Colombia with the purpose of getting his ID document updated, but as soon as Saul and Adriana saw each other, they fell in love. Adriana did not care if he was Jewish.

They started a life together in Cali no matter their families’ opinions, and after a while he proposed to her. After this, she realized that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with this man, and to do this she had to put aside her catholic beliefs, and get converted to the Jewish religion so she and Saul could be together.

They got married in a notary office, and then she started the process of getting into the Jewish religion.

The whole process lasted over 3 years. Weekly, she had a teacher that asked her about the Jewish holidays, food, and prayers and how to bake the special bread for every Friday “Shabbat”. Monthly, she had to meet with Rabbi Alfredo Goldsmith to learn about Jewish history and the role of women in family and society.

She has stated that not everything has been that easy, because after this she realized the secondary role of women in society, besides the fact that she had to stop celebrating important holidays with her family, like Christmas. However, she does not regret it at all and she thinks everything has worked out because of the respect and love found in religion. 

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