Childrearing

5 Ways To Explain To Your Kid That His Jewish Friend Didn’t Mean To Kill Jesus

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Growing up in an interfaith household, I had some complicated identity issues that were mostly put on me by other people–I was happy to be a “halfsie.” We celebrated Chanukah and Christmas and Passover and Easter, and it wasn’t ever a conflict for me. As it stands, Christmas and Passover are my favorite holidays to this day, mostly because in my house, they both involved my mom’s barbeque brisket.

I grew up in a predominantly Jewish part of Los Angeles, and was one of a very small number of Easter-celebrators at my elementary school. I was a bit of pariah among the Christians as the only halfsie, and one kid named Eric took it upon himself to let me know how I had specifically ruined Easter (or caused it).

Eric came up to me and said “how can your mom and dad live together?” I was only about six so I assumed this was some sort of divorce hysteria, and got immediately nervous. He went on, “because your dad is Jewish and mom is Catholic.” I calmed down at once and replied with my typical canned line of “ It’s great! Double the presents over winter break!”
“But jews killed Jesus. Isn’t your mom mad at your dad?” Dramatic pause. “Your dad killed God.”

This was clearly a child not exactly understanding the nuances of religion and taking some misinformation he had heard about history and applying it wrong–Eric made a lot of jumps that I didn’t follow. I was confused–my dad talked about God all the time. He made deals with God for Yankee victories (God was pretty busy that day,) talked about how my late grandmother convinced God to send down my sister right after her death so I’d have a new best friend (awesome, G), and seemed equally at ease at a synagogue or church service (the two times a year we went, if that). It didn’t seem like my dad had killed God. Except for that Yankees thing, it seemed like my dad and God were pretty chill. I couldn’t imagine that my dad killed God. Or if he did, it was probably an accident.

Religion is complicated, and it’s easy for wires to get crossed when you’re a small child incapable of synthesizing a lot of abstract information. Throw in some historical inaccuracies that have made their way into Mel Gibson’s brain and non-religious schooling that didn’t offer much clarity and somehow me and my dad had killed Jesus. Who wants to search for Easter eggs?

Because Easter is inextricably linked to the death of Jesus, Jews like me occasionally find themselves defending the actions of their forefathers when it comes to the whole Jesus death thing. And look, most of us just want to eat Easter candy and look at hilarious pictures of bunny costumes, and not have to explain for the millionth time that nobody we’re related to killed your messiah. We’re not a bunch of murderers. Please stop glaring at me.

If your kid gets some facts wrong and becomes very concerned that his or her Jewish friends were responsible for the death of Jesus, here’s five easy ways to calm them down.

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