I told him how Mike told me he didn’t have to get a polio shot, because it was a Jew vaccine.
Dad hardly ever got upset about anything, but this really got to him.
He said some words I didn’t understand.
Then he took a deep breath and told me that Jonas Salk, the man who invented the polio vaccine, was a Jew. And that we were Jewish, too, which I already knew. That meant that we were different in some mysterious way, but I didn’t understand how.
So that makes the polio vaccine Jewish, too?
No, it’s a thing. It doesn’t have a religion.
So, does it mean polio shots are only for Jews? That made no sense. I was pretty sure most of the kids who got the shot weren’t Jewish.
Okay, Dad said. Let’s take a walk. Dad always wanted to take walks when he needed to explain things to me.
Have you heard of Jesus?
No. Sort of, I guess.
Okay. Well, he’s a man who lived a long time ago.
How long ago?
About two thousand years. Anyway, Christians believe that he was the Messiah. Do you know what that is?
Ummm…see, Christians and Jews believe in the same God. And we both believe that one day a special person will come and when that happens the world will be perfect.
And then there won’t be tornadoes?
Probably not. Anyway, that person is called the Messiah. Christians believe that someone was Jesus. And Jews don’t.
Because we still have tornadoes?
And other problems.
This was getting way too confusing. What does any of this have to do with getting a polio shot?
Well, it’s hard to explain. Let’s just say that some people have a problem with Jews because of Jesus.
Did Jesus tell people not to get polio shots?
No, of course not. But because Jonas Salk is Jewish…
Yes. And because of that some people won’t get the shot.