by Sue Willam Silverman

Praying for Protection

Even though I’m Jewish, I attended an Anglican elementary school when my family first moved from Washington, D.C. to the West Indies. I loved the church that was next to the school, the sunstruck stained-glass windows, the whisper of silken robes, the holy Fathers chanting. I was transfixed by the serene eyes of a plaster Jesus who returned my gaze as if in benediction. One day I was given a ruby-colored rosary. For hours, I’d trail the beads through my fingers, each bead a miniature sun radiating warmth up my arms to my heart. I believed my rosary was blessed with special powers, that it would protect me from nights when my Jewish father shattered the peace of my bedroom and raped me. With the magical thinking of an abused child, I believed that bad things only happened to little Jewish girls. I avoided synagogues and believed that churches offered me safety. I prayed to be resurrected as a Christian girl with blond, blond hair.

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