The Presence of Different Elements of Power in the Synagogue as Read in Malory Nye’s Religion: The Basics

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For this assignment, my group decided to visit the Solel Congregation of Mississauga to observe a Jewish religious service. This essay will argue the presence of different elements of power in the synagogue we visited as discussed in Malory Nye’s Religion: The Basics. The reverence for the Torah resembles Michel Foucault’s idea of the power of the panopticon, which parallels the distinct power of the Torah. I will also argue that, based on the interactions between the rabbi and the participants at the service, Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony was not properly represented in the synagogue.
The first interesting observation that I made was the different in behavior in relation to the different occurrences during the service. In one scenario, the rabbi moved through the congregation carrying the sacred text known as the Torah. As the rabbi approached the individuals in the crowd, they touched the Torah gently with their shawl and proceeded to kiss the shawl. Those who did not have a shawl used any inanimate object that was nearby to touch the Torah. A man that sat beside me at the service noted that this action served two purposes: a sign of respect and a source of good luck. However, this was the perspective of one individual and may not be the actual purpose. This process was repeated before the Torah was returned to the central cabinet from which it was taken from. This central cabinet had a unique patterned design and was only open during the time the Torah…