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One day recently on the way to school my six year old son Everest asked me if he was Jewish, to which I replied yes.  He then asked me what it meant to be Jewish, which was a hard one.  I thought to myself quickly what my answer was and how to distill it in words that a 6 year old could understand.  I told him that Jews love God, they love and respect their parents, they always treat others with respect, and they observe the Sabbath and enjoy eating Challah (the delicious egg-bread that is traditionally eaten on the Sabbath).  He considered this then reflected that he is surely Jewish, but then shared this wonderful insight – “Isn’t everyone Jewish then, Daddy, except really bad people?”  He really got me there.  I told him that he’s basically right but that other people call themselves by different names – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.  They all share the same things with us Jews, but refer to themselves differently and have different traditions.

I know that very strict adherents to all religions practice their religions in ways that are surely different from the others, yet I’d venture to say that the essential teachings about how human beings ought to live and conduct themselves are very much the same.  I'm not against rituals per se.  I see how many of the ancient teachings and traditions have been of value to me in my life and I’m certain that many can say the same of their experience with their religions.  At the same time, I fear that religion has been an unfortunate source of division, when this clearly could not be God's intent.  I think that little, sweet Everest best understands that.

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