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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Visiting a Reform Synagogue

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.

The Rabbi's sermon was on the opening parasha of the book of Exodus. He talked about Moses' experience as a shepherd in Midian and how this prepared him to be the shepherd of the Israelites. (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.


angie nader said...

your awesome!
honestly, i never would go to a synagoge....but i love your desire to understand all different relgions and cultures.
your someone who could help bring peace to the world :)

Sanil Atarah Rivka said...

I would love to go to a synagogue regularly. There aren't any near me, even the Messianic one is far away. When I finish school, I should be in a more diverse area and have the chance to go to one.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Aneesah said...

Machallah, lol I just finished a post on my blog about religious tolerance. I also have jewish and christian people who I am very close to in my life. I believe that we actually have more in common the three abrahamic faiths that is. If we focused more on the similarities then diff the world would probally be a better place.

caraboska said...

The Last Supper - which in historical perspective was the first communion service - was actually a Passover seder (for those who are reading and don't know: this is a ritual meal eaten at home with family, during which certain actions prescribed in the Torah are performed, and the story of Israel's exodus from Egypt is told), which also contains elements of bread (unleavened, but nonetheless) and wine. There are good Messianic haggadot (service books for the seder) which explain the Messianic symbolism of each item in the order of service.

NoortheNinjabi said...

Note: Mourner's Kaddish is the same as the Hatzi Kaddish and that other one that I can't remember at the moment, except for speed :D (It's also stuck in my head now, lol. Thanks for that!)

It's interesting how similar the prayers are. Baruch atah adonai, eloheini melech haolim vs. alhamdulillahi rabbil 'alamin. So glad you enjoyed it!

(If you want to get a feel for the middle level, conservative temples are usually interesting. A lot of traditional melodies, especially if there are a lot of Russians in the congregation! Very pretty though.)

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Noor, Thanks! I'll have to see about Russian Jews here in Portland. There are tons of Russian people in my neighborhood, but most of them are Orthodox. I often get people speaking Russian to me because of how I dress ;-)

أبو سنان said...

I totally agreed with the part you wrote "I think that Christianity has lost a lot in leaving its Hebraic roots."

I also do not think that was intended by Jesus. Modern Christianity, in many ways, bears little or no relationship to the religion of The Torah.

That is a sad thing.

أبو سنان said...

PS, even been to a Sephardic synagogue? Their observances are a bit different than their Ashkenazi counterparts.

I am fond of Judaism, but particularly the Sephardim.

Anders Branderud said...

Quote: “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. ”

A logical analysis (found here: www.netzarim.co.il ) of the earliest manusscripts (including the logical implications of the research by Ben-Gurion Univ. Prof. of Linguistics Elisha Qimron of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT)) of “the gospel of Matthew”, implies that Ribi Yehoshua was a Perushi (Pharisee). Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth was called a Ribi and only the Perushim (Pharisees) had Ribis.

The same logical analysis proves that the followers of Christianity and Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakhs followers Netzarim were two different movements that were always separated. Christianity does not have Hebrew roots, but Hellenistic roots.

Anders Branderud

Umm Ibrahim said...

I too find Judaism really interesting-esp the orthodox and hassidic version because it's extremely close to Islam. I also did some tours of various Synagogues in the area.

Where I lived in the US was an area with the 2nd highest concentration of Hassidic and Orthodox Jews in the USA so I always ran into them. Personally I felt very close-religiously and personally to the hassidic and orthodox women as they covered too and tried to limit their interaction with men and some were VERY kind and sweet and I became aquainted with some during my University studies.

My only qualm with some Jews is that they can be *extremely* rude to Muslims, esp the reform and zionist types! I guess it might stem from the problems between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

On several occasions I had verbal altercations with some very rude orthodox jews and reformist jews and I have friends (hejab wearing) who had similar problems, One was even hit by a car as she was crossing the street (on purpose, by a zionist Jew-obviously she pressed charges).

But, ofcourse I dont color all Jews by the few but all in all, I do feel like Islam and Judaism has a LOT in common and I really pray that individuals of both faiths can learn more about each other, as it'll really help us to live as better people.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Abu Sinan, I have not, but would absolutely love to meet a community of Yemeni or Iraqi Jews in particular. I don't think there are any in Portland though,unfortunately.

Ciyaalka Xaafadda said...

Judaism is very similar to Islam because Islam is a copy of both Judaism and Christianity. In fact, very few elements in the Quran (aside from that which is derived from Arab culture) could be construed as original. Islam is basically Judaism, sans the prohibition of alcohol, leading one to ponder whether Islam is a true religion or that Allah's mistakes in introducing a third religion consecutively would render him unworthy.

However, Allah differs in the sense that he displays basic Arab characteristics in terms of emotion, logic, etc. Islam is a combination of the other two religions with an Arabic twist, placing stronger emphasis on Muhammad and Allah. In Islam, Allah and Muhammad peculiarly share similar interests and personality that one would suspect Allah is Mohammed's alter ego.

The foundations of the three religions from the Mid East are distinctly similar.

Umm Omar said...

How interesting! Thanks for sharing. I really respect your open-mindedness. So rare these days...

יסמין said...

Hey! I know you, just thought i'd say

? מה שלומך
my computer does not want to work adjusting the Hebrew font size.... sorry for the small type
I am glad you had fun! I now go to a Sephardic Congregation on Saturday mornings. Your friend is correct, it is quite different. Smaller synagogue,(Women are mostly in the back). The cantoring is done by Head Rabbi who has a different tempo/pronunciation to his speaking. But, men sometimes go up and take turns reading from the Scrolls. Sephardic communities-are communities who speak lots of languages.

Sephardic traditional language is Ladino which trickles into their cantoring, it is very intriguing. Spanish meets Hebrew.

Sephardic Hebrew like you know is the main language spoken in Israel, although Ashkenazi Hebrew is the main Hebrew spoken in many American and European Synagogues today -The services are mainly prayer services. We go through Prayer book, and about 6 -10 chapters in The Torah. it is a 2 hour service then we have lunch.
Food is good too! I will soon be doing a blog about Sephardic foods.

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