We welcome Thiago Gomes Silva to our community. Thiago has taken the Hebrew name Akiva. Discovering his Jewish ancestry, Thiago researched his family genealogy and discovered much trauma and suffering. He has found great satisfaction and happiness in joining the Society for Humanistic Judaism. Even though it is clear English is the writer’s second language, the heart and emotion of embracing a Jewish identity comes through beautifully in this piece nonetheless.
I hereby declare as requested that I wish to be a Humanistic Jew. Humanistic Judaism is the best option for me at this time. I am Jewish by ethnicity, by mother and father, my parents are even distant cousins, so I have a totally Jewish DNA. But I don’t believe in god the way the Jewish religion does. One god, omnipotent, omnipresent and ever benevolent.
I think there must be something beyond and many forces in the Universe, but none of them in the way of the traditional Jewish god.
So I’m not a theist, nor an atheist, maybe an agnostic in a peculiar way.
I want to emphasize here that religion is a word that designates to reconnect, reconnect with yours, so I am very religious in that sense, because I ardently desire in my heart to reconnect with my Jewish people. But I don’t need a belief in an all-powerful god for this.
In addition, preserving Jewish culture and my people is very important; because we are so persecuted in our history. We are a persecuted ethnic group and many times destroyed too, and we always, with great strength, recomposed ourselves together. I love my people and I am very proud to be Jewish. We are amazing.
Studying my immediate family’s genealogy, I discovered that many of my ancestors, Jewish men and women were persecuted and killed here in Brazil by Christians; that’s why I am also a member of the Brazilian Association of Descendants of Inquisition Jews (Associação Brasileira dos Descendentes de Judeus da Inquisição – original in Portuguese).
I discovered that one of my grandmothers, Branca Dias for example, the daughter of the Jew who is related to both my father and my mother, was burned to death at the stake by the court of the
Christian church, accused of the practice of Judaism, still in Portugal.
Other grandmothers and relatives continued to be persecuted and killed when they arrived in Brazil, for being Jews, by Christians and other groups. Every religion evolves over time, and Judaism certainly has gone through many transformations, so for me Humanistic Judaism is one more step in advance of the way of being a Jew, and it will be a great happiness for me to be a part of it.
✡ Akiva עֲקִיבָא Thiago Gomes Silva
August 23, 2023/