As many of you know I am a Jew. Technically, under Jewish law, this has always been the case, however, I didn’t know that. Let me explain my journey and how it began.
My father and his parents were devout Southern Baptists. My mother loved my father and his parents so much she agreed to raise her children as Southern Baptists. Thus, until I was 16 I believed what was taught by the Southern Baptist church was true.
Because of my grandfather and grandmother the center of my religious beliefs were about God. I’m not certain of their belief about the trinity, but it was certain that they believed that accepting Jesus led to God. What the Baptist church taught was that Jesus was the only path to God. Much later I learned that my grandparents did not accept that. Yet that was the belief that started me on my journey away from the Baptist church.
After my parent's divorce I began to broaden my horizons. I still believed the concepts I had been taught by the church. However, as I began to look at other religious traditions and their practices, I began to doubt what I had been taught. It wasn’t that I found another system of belief preferable. What bothered me was that these other religions were as driven to find God through their system of beliefs as any Baptist. The God of my grandparents, my God, was just, good, kind and forgiving. How could such a God refuse to accept people of these faiths? It was obvious to me that He could not. So I began my search.
I examined many religious traditions, trying to see if any of them fit comfortably with my own developing beliefs. I started first with a variety of Christian denominations. But the concept held by all, as far as I could discern, was that Jesus was God. For me, God was God and Jesus was, Jesus. So I gave up on finding a home in a Christian church. I tried out other religious traditions, but I always felt somewhat out of place.
Eventually a couple of years after I graduated from high school I found the Unitarians. This was in the very early 60's, before the U and U marriage. I was comfortable here at First Unitarian. I was, for a while, president of the college Unitarians at SF State. I had found a place that was open and accepting, just what I had been searching for. Still, I felt a faint sense of unease. There seemed to be something missing.
Then one Sunday, Rabbi Saul White, may his memory be forever a blessing, gave a talk, on “A Jewish View of Jesus.” I don’t have the time to take you through that talk, but it opened a new world to me. God was God and Jesus was a devout Jew. I began to study and attend Jewish services. In an unexpected way, I felt totally at home. I eventually formally converted. It was then that my mother told me about her family and her own Jewish heritage. I discovered that I was, and had always been, a Jew. From that time forward I was always an active member of a congregation.
However, after my divorce from my first wife, and following my marriage to Laura, the two of us needed a place where we could both comfortably worship together. So, along with her, I returned here.
My understanding of God has also evolved. My belief about God as just, good, kind and forgiving has not changed. But I no longer know anything else about God, except that he is not a he and God is not some super intelligent alien who created the universe. The rabbis have a saying, “the God you don’t believe in, I don’t believe in either.”