A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Carrie Jean Hoeh
Although most religions contain a unique set of beliefs and principles, there is a universal practice among many faiths, to “treat other people the way you want to be treated.” In my opinion, most religions teach individuals that inside every human being there is a soul. When a person passes on, his or her physical body decays but, the sprit continues on to the afterlife or becomes reincarnated. Individuals are frequently instructed to believe in a higher power (not necessarily God, but a greater spiritual force). As a child, if someone asked me if I was Christian I would say yes; however today, I have some issues with being classified as a “Christian”. Many Christians, especially Evangelicals, feel that practicing their religion is the only way an individual can have eternal salvation. Any other belief system is seen as exclusivism (completely false) or inclusivism (meaning certain ideas are true and everything else is just pushed off to the side). It bothers me when complete strangers try to “sell me” their religion by saying things like, “If you do not believe in this manner, you will go to Hell”; this is just another example of how closed-minded some people can be. Individuals should have the right to believe in whatever they want without someone telling them how to think.
It is a Christian’s duty to “love all” and be non-judgmental of others; nonetheless, I see this statement as hypocritical because the religious community frowns upon homosexuals and women who have abortions. As citizens of the United States, people are free to make their own choices. Human beings do not have the right to judge others based on their actions. Unless people are mind readers, they have no way to tell what a woman was thinking when she had the abortion. Maybe she was scared and felt like that was the only way out of the situation. Christianity goes by the ideology that God is the only one with the power to determine someone else’s fate. I do believe in some aspects of the Holy Bible; however, I do not follow it to the letter. Hence why I will not go out into the community and quote scripture on how people should live their lives. In my opinion, people could recite Bible verses all day long, but people usually end up contradicting themselves because they say one thing and do another. Do I go to church every Sunday? Do I know all the important Bible verses? No; however, I do know that I believe in God. I ask for guidance and forgiveness and try my hardest to treat others the way I want to be treated. God is the only one who can see my true heart; therefore, when my day comes, he alone will judge me.
As children, one of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to believe in magic. Before innocence is lost, we know that if we believe in something hard enough, it will happen; this is especially true during the holiday season. Growing up, I can remember going to church on Christmas Eve. Before my family left the house, there were no gifts under the tree. However, by the time we got home, Santa Claus had somehow snuck into the house and left the gifts under the tree. After eating Christmas dinner, my brother and I would then open our gifts on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas morning. Regardless of what holidays people choose to celebrate, there are certain traditions that people will always remember. Three Kings Day is an important event in the Catholic faith and is widely celebrated among Latin American cultures on the 6th of January. Three Kings Day, also called Los Reyes Magos recognizes that Melchor, Baltazar, and Gaspar brought gifts to Jesus, twelve days after his birth. In keeping with this tradition, Hispanic children believe that Los Reyes Magos will fulfill all their holiday wishes. Annie Irlanda, a liberal arts major at Hillsborough Community College, remembers how she celebrated Los Reyes Magos when she was a child. “The day was as big as Christmas,” she said. On the eve before Los Reyes Magos, kids will place a shoe box filled with grass under their bed, along with a bowl of water for the camels. Once the kids are asleep, the Three Kings will fill shoe boxes with all kinds of goodies. “The best gift I ever received was a radio,” Annie said. After children have discovered their gifts, their day continues with festivities. Having spent part of her childhood in Puerto Rico, Annie recalls how she and her family would travel to San Juan and wait on the Capital steps for the governor to hand out more presents. “A parade and mini-festival follow,” said Annie. Even though Annie has lived in Florida for many years, her life has been impacted so much that she continues to observe this holiday with her children.
Carrie speaks to Jen Alperstein about the impact of her, “coming of age” Bat Mitzvah.
Finding a caterer, booking a reception hall, picking out the floral arrangements, and hiring a disc jockey… all of these events sound similar to someone who is planning a wedding, right? The preparation that is occurring is actually for a 12-year-old girl’s Bat Mitzvah. Looking back, most people would agree that they have fond memories of the milestones in their life; perhaps it is because these significant moments represent a sense of accomplishment, independence, and moving towards the future. In the Judaic culture, there are many rites that an individual goes through throughout his or her lifetime; the arrival of a new baby is celebrated with a Brisque for boys, and naming ceremony for girls. Weddings take place under a canopy, also called a Chuppah. Although the ceremony is a joyous occasion, tradition requires grooms to step on a piece of glass, in remembrance of the hard times the Judaic culture has gone through. At the age of twelve or thirteen, depending upon gender, young adults will partake in their Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration. The Aramaic words “Bar” and “Bat” are known in the English language as, “son” and “daughter.” Bar Mitzvahs can be traced back to biblical times; however, the first Bat Mitzvah was not preformed in the United States until the 1920s. It took an additional forty years before Bat Mitzvah became a socially acceptable practice in the U.S. Jen Alperstein, a sophomore at the University of South Florida, vividly remembers her Bat Mitzvah, and how she and her family planned a year in advance for the event. Jen describes the Bat Mitzvah as a “coming of age tradition, which signifies your adult status in the religious community.” The Bat Mitzvah publically affirms that young women are now ready to take that next step on their faith journey. Jen explains, “Participating in a Bat Mitzvah, means that you have made a conscious decision to actively engage in the religious community. You are now responsible for following the commandments and reading from the Torah during services.” In order to help students understand the commitment they are about to undertake, girls attend religious classes taught by a Rabbi a year before their Bat Mitzvah. Food and gifts are always the best part of any celebration. Entrees such as pasta and chicken were served at Jen’s Bat Mitzvah. In keeping with Judaic law, foods must be Kosher. Challah, a sweet bread was also served at the event. Jen feels that “One of the most significant gifts a young woman can receive on her Bat Mitzvah is money in multiples of eighteen.” She explains “In Judaism, the number eighteen means ‘Chai’, which is known as ‘life’ in the English language”. Tradition dictates, “When a celebrant gets money in intervals of eighteen, they will live a prosperous life.” After dinner has been served and blessings have been bestowed, guests will party well into the night. Although the celebration lasts only a day, the memories will stay with the young girl forever.