Although I have studied Hebrew and have a pretty good knowledge of Judaism, I had never actually been to a non-Messianic synagogue service until last night.
I attended the synagogue with some Messianic ladies that I am friends with. Two of them attend regularly even though they are believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. The rabbi knows this, but is apparently accepting of it as long as they do not proselytize other Jews.
The service contained a fair amount of liturgy, all done by a female cantor. I was more familiar with the Hebrew liturgy being chanted, but this was all sung. The congregation had a small band consisting of 2 acoustic guitars, a drum, and an upright bass to accompany the cantor. Most of the liturgy is done with the congregation participating. I was able to follow along pretty well.
I felt surprisingly comfortable in the service, it was not so confrontational as a lot of church services tend to be. It was actually a good balance between a church service and a service at a mosque.
Since this was a reform synagogue, seating was not separated by gender. Gender separation is the norm in Orthodox and Chassidic groups, however.
link to sermon at lower right of page)
Another thing that is done regularly at Jewish services is the mourner's kaddish. I thought this was really interesting, as it constantly calls each of us to remember our own mortality, but also that we were each created as eternal beings.
I think that Christianity has lost a lot in leaving its Hebraic roots. If you look at the New Testament, Jesus and the disciples all worshiped at the Temple and synagogue and followed the Torah. Unfortunately, many Jews are distrustful of both Christians and Muslims because of terrible atrocities that have been committed in the past. I pray that we are able to move past this and treat each other as siblings.
The service was ended by a blessing over Challah bread and wine (and grape juice) in the next building. This is the custom that became communion in Christianity. The traditional blessings over these foods are to remind one of the Creator's constant provision, and also to set apart the Sabbath as a time of worship and rest.
Would I attend the synagogue again? Definitely.
While I am not contemplating becoming a reform Jew, I think that there is a lot I can learn from this tradition and their way of living out the Torah.