I’m 19 and live in Israel. I grew up in, and still live with, a Modern Orthodox Jewish family. I’ve always been interested in Christianity, the figure of Jesus always appealed to me, but since Christianity was ‘obviously wrong’ because Hashem (the common Jewish title for God, literally ‘the Name’) is totally immaterial and thus could not become man, and is totally one, therefore could not be a trinity, and so on, I stayed Jewish.
I never really appreciated Jewish religious life. Even before my bar mitzva I was kind of bitter about all the dietary and sexual restrictions Judaism imposes, the demand to go to synagogue three times every single day of the week, and the inherent nationalism/ethnocentrism. My denomination of Judaism focused on the latter a lot, which is why it is also called “National Religious”. In school they always tried to inculcate us with love for the Land of Israel, which was a value second only to Torah. This was often associated with military service, usually in combat positions. I always hated the times they brought up all kinds of local boys who had been killed in battle/by terrorists, because I felt I was expected to be like them, and felt I couldn’t be.
I also never really fit in with my peers. I think I have some kind of Asperger’s, so I was in a special class in elementary school, and had (and still have) only a few friends. From fourth to ninth grade I went to this sort of youth group called Bnei Akiva, but only really because there (unlike school) were girls there. Not that I had any success with them.
Three years ago, this happened: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_kidnapping_and_murder_of_Israeli_teenagers. At first I felt guilty that I had not prayed hard enough or sinned too much, but later I came to believe that this reflected the absence of a loving god, and so over the course of a few months I drifted to deism, and finally agnostic atheism.
Until recently. A few weeks ago I read a Jewish book on “how to be a rational believer” that caught my eye in a bookstore, then G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”, and finally Trent Horn’s “Why We’re Catholic”. Suddenly I saw that faith, and specifically Catholicism, did not have to be emotional self delusion, or inertia based on childhood indoctrination. I realized that those Pharisaical, oppressive Catholics had legitimate reasons for their beliefs.
So I went to Mass in the Hebrew-speaking vicarage in Jerusalem. Twice. Unfortunately the priests seem to be on summer vacation now or something, so although there’s someone doing Mass, cathechism and/or baptism seems to be unavailable right now.
The real problem, however, is my family. Consider all the terrible things Catholics have done to the Jewish people. I know the Spanish inquisition is exaggerated, but still: Crusader pogroms, discrimination, sometimes endorsed by popes in documents such as “Cum nimis absurdum”, forced conversion, burnings at the stake. Not to mention things done by believing Catholics to Jews in the name of other ideologies such as the Holocaust. Here in Israel Christiainity is regarded as invasive and completely alien, utterly divorced from Judaism, and the cause of many of our people’s woes. In fact, my mother told me the thought of me going to Mass causes her pain and trouble.
I know Jesus repeatedly said you need to forsake everything, including your family, if that’s what it takes to follow Him. But I just don’t feel like I have the strength to do that. I love my mother and genuinely don’t want to hurt her.
Can anyone help me here?
Many thanks, the grace of Our Lord be with you all.