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A Southern Baptist in a Reformed Judaism Shabbat Service

Autor:   •  May 4, 2013  •  Essay  •  941 Words (4 Pages)  •  411 Views

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A Southern Baptist in a Reformed Judaism Shabbat Service

Friday, I attended a Shabbat service at the Central Reform Congregation. I brought my friend Uchenna along, being a member of Interfaith Alliance, she had experience with the Jewish faith, but also having a some else who knows more but probably still makes mistakes makes it less awkward. When we finally arrived, after an hour-long walk, there were mostly nice, newer vehicles, which made me consider the majority of the worshippers were of a certain socioeconomic class. Uchenna and I had dressed up for the occasion, and in my head, I had a small sigh of relief thinking that our wardrobe choices would fit in nicely with our "well to do" peers, wrong! As soon as we entered the building, everyone was in denim and khaki shorts, paired with flip-flops and casual shirts. So we stood out anyway. I was surprised, but I have to admit, it was nice. I have often been to religious institutions, especially when my casual Southern Baptist church visits other Southern Baptist churches, that enforced strict dress codes which made some people feel uncomfortable. My church calls it undignified praise. Despite being sore thumbs, Uchenna and I were greeted and given name tags and our "siddur" or prayer book. We entered the synagogue, and it was very beautiful and ornate. The ceiling was high, and there were exposed beams as well as a large wooden cabinet, which I later found out housed the Torah. At the front, I saw two male Rabbis and one female Rabbi: Edwin Harris, Randy Fleisher and Susan Talve. With knowledge on Judiasm from earlier in the semester to me, This was an obvious sign (besides the name) that the Central Reform Congregation was reformed, because in Orthodox and some Conservative Judaism, female leadership is not allowed. All three rabbis wore the traditional "tallit" or prayer shawl, and one of the males took on the role of the Cantor. He strummed an acoustic guitar and sang almost what I would describe as "Christian praise and worship" style as the congregation filed into their seats. The service began with some singing in Hebrew, which is pronounced pretty phonetically, but I tried to follow along anyway. Thankfully no one was close to us because I'm sure we butchered the pronunciation. Not to mention I was having problems remembering to turn the page from left to right, rather than right to left, Uchenna giggled and whispered she'd had that problem too. The next part of the service was like a parade. The Torah, which is written on a large scroll, was taken out of the cabinet and marched by the rabbis down the aisles. The congregation would gather towards the end of the aisles to touch it as it passed by, either with their hands or their prayer books. Once the Torah made it all the way around back to the altar, a blessing was

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