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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)

TITLE: The Bent-Nosed Gift of God
By Joanne Sher


I breathe in the sea air and watch the surf crash onto the sand before me. I am amazingly calm, and have no doubt that I will go through with this ritual. The best part: it will be of my own free will.


When I was eight days old, I was ushered into the faith of my parents. There was no need to promise to adhere to the traditions of my ancestors. A snip and the blessing of a mohel* and I was officially Jewish: a son of Abraham.

I also got a name that day: Cameron Nathaniel Levine. I later discovered its meaning, and wondered if my folks had been drinking something stronger than a glass of Manischewitz when they picked it. Who, in their right mind, would name their child "bent-nosed gift of God?"*

Once I entered third grade, I started attending Hebrew School twice week. Again, no one asked if I wanted to learn to read some language with strange characters or hear stories about people dead six thousand years. Even if they had, my opinion wouldn't have mattered a bit. That's what Jewish boys do - even ones who didn't believe in God.

At age 13, I performed all the rituals required to become a Jewish adult. After reading from the Torah, giving a speech, and singing a bit, I became a Bar Mitzvah: a son of the Commandments. Again, I did this out of obligation and duty to my parents. Had I been asked, I would have declined - as long as my parents still threw me the huge Bar Mitzvah party, of course.

During my teen years, I went to synagogue, under duress, on occasion, but it was nothing to me: a place to sit with my parents and be bored to tears, a place to laugh at the naiveté of those who actually believed in God.

When I went away to college, I left my synagogue attendance at home with my dump trucks and Hardy Boys books. If someone asked, I was Jewish, but my religion had no impact on my life.

My sophomore roommate would change that. I remember on the first day, he arrived before I did, but put his things in the back of the dorm room, near the center.

"Hi. I'm Matt. Which side of the room do you want?" he asked as I strolled in with my first load of stuff.

This impressed me. He gave me the choice. I took the left side and thanked him for asking. I soon learned this was Matt's general attitude. There was definitely something different about him.

I remember one Sunday a couple weeks after class started. I had been partying the night before, but when I woke at noon, Matt was in the room changing out of slacks and a dress shirt. I remember thinking that this guy must actually like going to services if he got up early on a Sunday to do it.

He noticed me stirring and smiled. "My church is having a special sophomore service tonight. Wanna go?"

"I'm Jewish, actually," I commented. "Don't think they'd let me in."

Matt laughed. "I know they would...if you're interested, anyway. Oh - and that's cool about being Jewish. I'd love to talk to you about that."

"Nothing to tell. I had a bris* and a Bar Mitzvah, so I'm Jewish. Mom and dad are, so I am."

I will never forget the look in Matt's eyes after I said those words. It seemed a combination of shock, hope, and disbelief. I felt he might scream, but he didn't. He just repeated his earlier invitation. I figured it wouldn't hurt, so I chose to go with him.


That was seven months ago. Since then, I have learned that all the ritual in the world won't make me a son of Abraham. I've learned that God loves me, despite the fact that I'm a pretty bad guy. It is only through my messiah's forgiveness that anyone becomes good - gets their nose bent back into shape - and that I have to choose to accept it. That is God's gift.

So, I stand here at the beach, waiting for my turn to perform this outer act symbolizing the inner change I have made, with God's help. I am once again performing a ritual to join the family of God; but this time, it is my choice, and it means something.

Maybe my folks didn't pick such a lousy name after all.

A mohel is a Jewish ritual circumciser

Cameron means "bent nose" in Gaelic, and Nathaniel is the Hebrew word for "gift of God."

A bris is the Hebrew name for the circumcision ceremony

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This article has been read 1381 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Renae Hair10/25/07
Bravo! Praise God when we realize that we each stand before Him, accountable as an individual being...no riding shirttails to be with Him forever. Beautiful piece!
Catrina Bradley 10/25/07
Nice! It makes me think about the kind of followers God would have if He didn't give us the choice - ones who serve Him out of obligation or duress, with no joy.
Laury Hubrich 10/26/07
Thank you for giving me a little lesson in Jewish history:) Very interesting...
Lynda Schultz 10/26/07
The theme was baptism, but this would work equally well as an evangelistic piece. Well done.
Betty Castleberry10/27/07
I learned some things, and got to read an enjoyable story, too. This is well written. Kudos.
Seema Bagai 10/27/07
Great piece. I liked the voice and tone throughout.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/27/07
You did a great job with this. The Jewish Christians I have known have been a great blessing with their heritage and their hope.
LauraLee Shaw10/29/07
Your title was great, and from there on to the end, I was enveloped in this story. So excellent!
Kristen Hester10/29/07
This story caught me and didn't let go. Very well told. Excellent.
Jan Ackerson 10/30/07
Wonderful--you succeeded in being infromative and entertaining at the same time. That's not an easy feat!

By the way, using "The" isn't a no-no...I just avoid it, if possible. Your title is great.
william price10/30/07
Entertaining, educational, exquisitly written and communicated. Very, very good. God bless.
Joanney Uthe10/30/07
I enjoyed the walk through the Jewish traditions. Loved the roommate's attitude showing from the beginning and the interest he took in the MC's heritage.
Cassie Memmer10/31/07
This held my attention all the way through. Written VERY well. Wouldn't change a thing! Great read, very enjoyable. Loved the mc and the love of Christ showing through the roommate. Wonderful writing!
Sara Harricharan 10/31/07
This is neat. I like the bit of heritage in here, and especially Matt, what a neat character. I'm glad he was able to help with a great ending to this story. lolz. Great writing, Joanne! ^_^
dub W10/31/07
Loved this. What can I say that others haven't already.
Sheri Gordon10/31/07
This is very educational, and not boring! That is quite a talent. Excellent writing, as always, and kept me interesting from the beginning, as always. Nice take on the topic.
Lisa Holloway11/01/07
This is not only like a peek into another religious culture, but also a very well told story. Congratulations on your win!
Sheri Gordon11/01/07
Congratulations on your EC. Another well-written and entertaining story. Great job.
Mo 11/01/07
Interesting & thought provoking story! Congrats on your EC!
Catrina Bradley 11/02/07
Well done, my friend! I love this story. You brought this young man to life, and touched my heart. An excellent depiction of...dare I say?...free will. Congrats! :) Cat
Janice Cartwright11/07/07
I love the way your story illustrates how God prepares our hearts and minds for the day of our calling. Not one thing in Cameron's life was wasted, not a one in ours.