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Personal Narrative: My Visit To A Jewish Synagogue Research Paper

Visiting a Jewish Synagogue Religion is one of the factors that help to maintain balance in the world. There are many religions in this world. Every religion has its own beliefs and ways of following it. Religions may vary in many aspects. While some religions may have the same beliefs, some will have the exact opposite beliefs. I come from a place where even though there are many religions found I get to observe and practice only my own religion. Even if people are open about different religions, one religion being involved in another is not acceptable for my society.

This is one of the reasons why I have always been curious about other religions and their ways of following and practicing it. This is why when I got a chance to go to a Jewish Synagogue as a part of a religious service assignment from my class I was very excited about it. The service was arranged to us by our religion class instructor Dr. Kim Whitehead. This visit really helped me to analyze and understand about the religion and also relate it with what we had studied in class. About the Service The service was in a Jewish Synagogue which was in a nearby neighborhood.

It was located adjacent to a Baptist Church which showed that people with different religions had lived with peace among each other. As we entered, the first thing I noticed was the ceiling of the Synagogue. The ceiling of the Synagogue was in the shape of a star which symbolized the ‘Star of David’. There was a big stage and behind stage there was a small cupboard inside which was the ‘Torah’. Torah is the holiest book of the Jewish community that provides with the teachings about life. There were many relics on display like the Star of David and Menorah. Some of them were even for sale.

There were many paintings hanging in the walls which held symbolic meanings. The architecting of the building seemed like the one specially designed for a Synagogue. As I looked around I saw a couple of people. Some of them were teenagers just like us. They seemed very friendly. People welcomed us and asked us if we needed any kind of help. All of them were dressed formally. Men wore the ‘Kippah’ on their head which is a small round hat that Jewish people wear. Women wore decent clothes. All of them seemed to have a good understanding of the teachings and beliefs of their religion.

As the service began, we were asked to be seated. The seating resembled that of a church that is all pointed towards the stage. All of us were provided with a book which was in ‘Hebrew’. There was a translated version of the teachings, poems, and also how the words were pronounced in the book to assist us with reading it. The book was read from right to left. At the beginning of the service, a girl was asked to light a candle and then the Rabbi introduced himself and started explaining about the service. He explained the importance of the Torah and its teachings.

He started reading the book and asked us to pay attention to what it said. As he read the book he explained what it meant. Most of what he read was the prayer for Adonai (God). He recited and explained the meanings of the poems. Every once in a while we needed to stand up for the prayers which were very important. During this, he would face towards the Torah, bow down to it and then read it. He asked if anyone sick and then prayed to the God for their well being. When the service was over there were snacks ready for us. Before the meal, we were asked to put the books back in the shelf.

Then we took whatever we wanted to eat and then started talking to the people around. When I was talking to other people, I found out about the importance of Hanukkah and how it came to be. They explained their belief in the religion and how they understand it. They did not hesitate to share the information with us. The rabbi himself answered all the questions people had about the service and also the beliefs and teachings. After the meal was over, the rabbi offered to show us the Torah and how it was read. However, he said that we were not allowed to touch it.

Then he explained its significance. The Torah was decorated and covered with a designed outfit. He read some of the lines of the Torah for us. Then he explained about the building and its architecture. He seemed to be very happy sharing the information and was gladly answering all the questions. He explained about the rituals and also the importance of the relics and paintings. He mentioned about the festivals celebrated. He was glad that we attended the service and was trying his best to clear any confusion we had. Analysis

This visit even if it was a part of our assignment it was very interesting. It was informative as well. It helped me to relate the religion to what we have studied in class and also how it differs from my own religion. Studying the religion in class gave me some ideas and knowledge about the workings of the religion, but being there and personally and having a practical demonstration boosted my knowledge about the religion. The face to face interaction with people of that religion cleared my confusions. I had studied how Jews regarded the Torah to be so important.

But when I saw how people treated the Torah, how it was decorated, and the explanation the rabbi gave about the Torah made it clear to me that people not only regard Torah as important, instead, they worship it. Whatever the Torah says was the law for them. They were devoted to the teachings and took the religion very seriously. They simply followed the Torah to understand ways to live life. The demonstrations of Menorah and Star of David gave me the idea about the importance of the relics. When we were reading the book, the devotion that I observed in the people was remarkable. They followed it word by word and sang along with the rabbi.

Although there were no rituals performed that day, the rabbi explained to us the rituals and why they are held. Seeing the devotion of people made me listen to the songs and prayers even more carefully to understand what it said. What struck me most when I listened to the rabbi and followed the book was that there was no particular order to read it but rather according to what he wanted to talk about. Most of what he read was prayers to God. The other thing that ii thought was new was that they believed that God is not assigned with a gender (male or female), or even given a name.

This was the reason for them to address God as ‘God’. They believed in their one true God and his teachings. I found it interesting that people have not lost faith in God even after the event of Holocaust. They still believe that God is their protector and that he will watch over them no matter what. I found that people believed in doing the right actions and following God. Not only the Torah but they also took the religion very seriously. Nobody was there just for fun. They all had a reason to be there. The service was very simple, but it was very deeply followed.

Even though there was no need of wearing a religious dress or carrying some relics, people wore and brought relics because they wanted to. I noticed that women wore necklaces with the pendant of Star of David on it. Men wore the Kippah. They knew exactly what was going on and knew what to do. The most impressive thing for me was that even though they were such deep followers of the religion, they were open about the idea of other religion. People were not rude to us because we belonged to a different religion than them, but rather they were more welcoming and kind.

They helped us understand the service and teachings. They made us feel comfortable talking to them. They did not try to offend us in any way or argue that their religion was better than any other. They were just glad that they had so many guests and they had the opportunity to interact with us. Personal Response My entire life I have followed a conservative religion in which even a small mistake is not allowed. So when I needed to go to the Synagogue I was excited but mostly I was nervous because I was completely new to it and did not know how it was practiced.

I was very cautious not to say or do something that might be offensive to someone in any way. I was dressed very formally and was very attentive to what people were saying. I was not alone because I went there with my classmates. However, it felt a little weird because I was a Hindu and all of my classmates were Christians so they could on some level connect to the religion. As the service began I became comfortable and started to understand some of their ways. It was a little difficult because I belong to a totally different background but as I observed I realized that it was not that difficult at all.

I realized that people were very polite and I was glad I went there. I got a lot of information from my visit about the religion. I could relate our study in class and view it in a practical way. The way it Jews followed their religion is completely opposite to that of mine. The first aspect is that they believe in the existence of one God while we believe in the existence of many Gods and Goddesses. Secondly, we do not read out our holy books in the manner that Jewish people do. Even when we do read out the books the main priest reads it and the others just listen to them.

The books are not used by every single person. Yes, relics hold a great importance in my religion as well. I found out that the Jews not only follow the Torah, but they live in it. The significance of the Torah, the relics, and the festivals for them amused me. When I got into talking with a Jew I understood how much it meant for them to follow God. How the people have understood the Torah and its teachings were remarkable. I was amazed that even with all the injustice and suffering the Jews have suffered; their faith in God has not shaken.

They believe in their God and trust that one day all will be better. Getting an opportunity to have a personal experience in the service was very new to me. I am glad that I got a chance to see the ways and practices of the religion. Interacting with the people who did follow the religion was the most exciting part for me. My understanding about the religion has changed and now I can relate it with my study and with other religions as well. If I get a chance I would like to visit there again sometimes and gain more knowledge about it.

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