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Mike's Inner Struggle

Mike opens up about the conflict within him between his Iranian heritage and Jewish faith.

By Mike Shouhed

It’s really hard for me to watch last night’s episode because of the conflict I continue to struggle with, that of my heritage as an Iranian and my Jewish faith. Being in Turkey and hearing prayers emanating from the Blue Mosque, my sense of conflict was brought to the forefront more than ever. Reflecting back on my childhood and how my parents were forced to leave their homeland where they faced imprisonment or worse because of their practice of Judaism was simply too much for me to bear at the time. I just couldn’t bring myself to visit the Mosque because of the feelings I continue to have for my parents and their struggle when I was young.

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I embrace and respect the Muslim faith as a part of my Iranian heritage, while I practice Judaism to this day and am blessed that the love of my life is converting to my faith. Honestly, the continuing conflict of mine -- being of Iranian heritage and Jewish faith, not a practicing Muslim -- is the cross I have to bear and where I have to continue to do my work as a faithful son of my parents, who gave up their homeland to stay true to their faith. My best friends know in their hearts I respect them and their Muslim faith, and the Iranian heritage all of us share. I plan to return to Turkey and to visit the Blue Mosque when I am strong and can celebrate the differences in all of us with an ease and comfort I’m working so hard to achieve.

We all pray to our different sense of God, and in the end don't all our notions of God just come down to love and faith and belief? In my struggle and hard work on myself and my heritage, culture, and faith, I hope one day soon to get past the memories of my parents' struggles as Jews and learn to experience the Muslim faith and its proximity to being an Iranian at birth. Then, and only then, will I walk into the Blue Mosque in Turkey and feel the power of the history and heritage of all Iranians though most practice a different faith.

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