“Where do Jews come from?”
“They don’t come from anywhere. Jew is not a race, (Judaism) it’s a religion.”
– Me and Teal
That was actually meant to be a rhetoric question. If I had asked this question to other people, I can assure you that most of them would have “Israel” as the answer. Teal’s answer had been stuck in my mind since then. She sure has a distinctive way of seeing things.
Teal’s answer brought me back to the conversation I had with a Saudi Arabian guy on our way to Chicago. We talked about how Saudi Arabians are considered to be very devoted Moslems, but in fact, even the guy himself admitted that he never even once visited the holy city of Mecca that most Moslem population in the world dream about every now and then. He then told me that not all Arabic people can be seen as “good”, not even all of them are Moslems. A good Moslem can come from anywhere in the world, there is no boundaries, for it is about our beliefs, and nothing can come in between us and the God we trust.
In my high school days, I was so interested with Jews that I looked up history books and found stories on the crusades. The way Jews are potrayed in history books taught me that Jews are only consisted of a small population focused on Israel’s teritory, and that they are more of a cultural rather than religious groups. That was why, when Jen said that she is Jewish, I was surprised. I was expecting a Middle-Eastern person claiming to be Jewish, as I was expecting a Saudi Arabian guy to be a good Moslem.
Our visit to the Holocaust Museum today made me realize that religions go beyond cultures. To be truthful, I adopt Islamic views because my parents and the people around me are Moslems, though I can confidently say that I believe 100% in the teachings now. I was not given any chance to learn other religions and make my own decision, and for that reason I found it strange that people can adopt a different belief while being a part of minority groups and exposed to such oppression.
Adopting another belief would have been an easier option, because face it, it is hard when you realize that you’re different than others. It is amazing how there are still a big number of people claiming to be Jews after the Holocaust happened. And there are no distinctive facial features between them. White, black, colored, people with all kinds of skin color can adopt whichever religion they believe to be the most suitable and stand strong for it. Even when we are oppressed, that belief is something worthy that should be fought for. No one, not even the troops, can come between ourselves and God.
Lintang Cahyaningsih – Universitas Gadjah Mada