My name is Sofia Braunstein and I’m a sixteen year old California girl with a passion for singing, advocacy, yoga, writing, and living (and a whole lot of other things that would just take too long to write out). I’m Hispanic, but I come from an interfaith family: my mother is an Argentine Catholic and my father is a New Jerseyan Jew. I was brought up Jewish, but I remain so by choice adding in bits of Buddhism and yoga into my practice.
Ever since I was young, I’ve had an interest in other cultures and religions. My bookshelf (I treasure my oversized bookshelf the way some treasure their oversized purses) has one full-shelf dedicated to mythology. I could spout the names of every Greek-demigod, the various creation myths from the Celts and the Japanese, the core spiritual beliefs of Australian Aborigines. Now if only I could apply such feats of memory to my school work…the wonders of a young, ductile mind.
Even with all of this enthusiasm, it was only recently, not six months ago that I became involved in the modern interfaith dialogue (if conversing to old mythology books counts as ancient dialogue). This turn of events came about as I was ending my 10th year of religious school and my rabbi passed out an application for the newly founded Teen Interfaith Council of Santa Clara County. Although I’d heard the term interfaith various times in relation to my family dynamic and the majority of my friends are of different religious backgrounds, I had never considered in the context of the world and many prevalent issues. Curious, I applied and got a position on the Council along with one of my Jewish friends. After an eye-opening Council trip to New Mexico and further involvement in interfaith dialogue, I’ve grown to realize what interfaith really means.
Interfaith does not pertain to seeing the differences between religions, but neither does it focus on their similarities. Interfaith is a way of seeing the world, not just religious concerns, as a whole with all its dormant seeds of change and beautiful promise, along with all its horrendous cracks and seemingly endless chaos. We cannot infinitely furcate our perception of the world and expect it to remain whole and unified once we’re done meshing and organizing it into submission.
I believe (as many others do) that as youth, we hold the power to transform the world while maintaining its vital, human essence. Many of my friends and classmates do not feel the need to talk about religion, much less moral issues; in fact, my school does not favor the discussion of religion or politics as such ideas are classified as controversial. This is the root of many of our problems because if we cannot communicate peacefully as youth, how will we even think of doing so when we are adults, and our ideas all the more concrete?
I hope to share with you thought-provoking ideas, world issues, Jewish recipes, random Sofia-thoughts, social issues, music suggestions, and poetic attempts. So if you dig any of that, I’m here for you!
Before I close, I want to share a poem I wrote recently.
The arc of night shuttered us
in with promises
of starry days.
And its vanilla mouth
licked the remnants of wishes from
the sky as they slid
down our branches
to our toes by the sea.
We took its essence
and painted it with cloven brushes
to the multitudinous sky
of blackened soot
and, to our dismay,
we found our promises etched in dust
on the undersides
of our beds
What do you think its about?