Once a month, my husband (a secular humanist Jew) and I (Roman Catholic) join the Fraytik tsu Nakht at the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture. At the Friday night secular humanist Shabbat celebration, we sing songs, light candles, eat challah bread, and sing in Yiddish and Hebrew. But what I am also learning is the humanistic approach to Jewish cultural heritage.
At the celebrations, they give a great deal of importance, as it says in the text that we read, “to human dignity and the human power to make a better world … and gratitude for the wonders of the world.” Being from a Latin American country, I do not know Yiddish or Hebrew, but I have memorized the lyrics to songs like “Daylanu Shalom” and “Hineh Ma Tov,” so I can sing along with the other people.
When I married Carl, I enjoyed imagining that I was married to a relative of Jesus Christ, since I am practising Catholicism and Jesus is Jewish. We found out that we have more things in common than we imagined. We really enjoy seeing all the similarities and sharing them. For instance, I go with Carl to his Jewish events, where we light candles “to reflect on our own light and the light of others, we praise the healers, the builders and the dreamers. We celebrate the peacemakers, those who teach, who nurture, who love, who share, and those who create for humanity.” At the same time, I have an altar in our room, where I spend time praying the rosary, lighting candles and meditating. Carl comes with me on Sunday to listen to Mass, and is curious for something new, like listening to Mass in Latin, hearing the sermon or just listening to the beautiful music from the pipe organ at Holy Rosary Cathedral, where I belong. Our relationship is based on respect and acceptance, so we can both learn from each other without judgment. Together, we discover that hope is bright and love fills our hearts.
This past year, like every year, we received a phone call from one of Carl’s friends inviting us to his home to celebrate Passover. For me, this means learning more about his culture and imagining how was the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples. I love the prayers, the singing and being with good friends who accept me and welcome me, even knowing that I am Catholic, but, above all, I enjoy it because I’m taking part with my husband, who I love.
Carl and I married in a civil ceremony, a Jewish ceremony and in the Catholic Church. We learned that celebrating our differences has made us closer and that religion, far from being a barrier, is a blessing from our Higher Power, however we understand It.
Delta Vazquez Leon has worked part time for Holy Rosary Cathedral for almost four years as an administrative assistant-receptionist. Her mother tongue is Spanish, and she helps Spanish-speaking parishioners in their needs. Some Sundays she assists in the distribution of Holy Communion, and participates in any way she can in Cathedral activities. In her spare time, she likes to write, draw and paint.