My Visit to a Jewish Synagogue Essay

874 Words Jul 2nd, 2013 4 Pages
Michelle Arnold
Introduction to Judaism
Monday & Wednesday 9-12

When I visited my first Jewish synagogue, I expected it to be very different. My previous experience with religious ceremonies was limited to a few visits to Baptist churches. The most surprising thing for me at this one was, oddly enough, its similarity to Christian services and rituals. I went into the religious visit expecting an enormous difference in the customs and perhaps even in the attitudes of the people attending the service. What I found instead was a religious ceremony very reminiscent of the Christian ones I’ve been to before. To begin, I was nervous about attending a service for a faith to which I did not belong and which was not even part of
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I sat near the back, a good thing because it was mostly the people participating in the service who sat at the front. I noticed that several of the women had a tallit, or prayer shawl, and only knew the significance of them because of our readings and lessons. Many of the men were wearing a yarmulke as well, though not all of them were. As I looked around the room I noticed the Ark, which holds the Torah scrolls. As I continued to scan the room I also notice the menorah (candelabrum). The rabbi began the service fairly casually, greeting the congregation in English. After the English greeting came a more traditional greeting in Hebrew, and then a song to greet the Sabbath, or Shabbat, which is the word that was used at the synagogue. The Hebrew might have been strange to me, but there were English translations for just about everything in the prayer book, along with the prayers and songs written out in Hebrew. My personal favorite part of the service was the singing. There were two singers, one male and one female. All of the songs were beautiful, and caused me to consider the fact that many religions use songs and music in order to convey their messages. I believe that this is a good practice, because music is a common language, one that everybody can understand regardless of whether they speak Hebrew, or any other tongue. Although I’m