Natalia Lugo – Site Visit Journal

I come from a Christian house hold but to be completely honest I have never been a very religious person. Not in the way that I dislike or do not believe in anything, just in the way that I believe in a god but I do not see it necessary to go to church every Sunday morning. I may be Christian but when it comes to the bible, I am not very familiar with verses. So going to a synagogue was honestly a new and different thing no matter the fact that the scripture is similar in some ways. None the less, I was extremely nervous yet curious when one of my closest friends took me with her family to a synagogue. It was Saturday morning, and I was told to be at my friend’s house at 8 AM so that we would not be late to the service. My friend had previously told me how I should go dressed. She told me that to them they honor their bodies so they dress themselves with the dignity that they deserve. I was not quite sure what she meant so I went in a long sleeve shirt and some dressy long pants. When I walked in the synagogue, one of the first things I noticed was how the men and women were seated separately. According to my friend and some research I did on my own, there is a rule against men looking at women that are not their wife. It somehow is translated as trying to gain some kind of pleasure from looking, even if it was not meant. At first I was getting some stares because I was a new face and looked a little lost with my friend in my ear telling me what everything meant and why things were placed in a certain ways or places. I am a really nervous person so with all the stares I was getting it was getting worse. The service began at 9 and the cantor, or the person leading the prayers began to speak. I was lost for the most part so I was looking around the room. I looked at the prayer book, or siddur, for a while and noticed the familiarity of the layout. Throughout the service I noticed that there are various prayers and some were said standing up and others sitting down. I noticed in many occasions that the cantor would just recite a few words and the audience would either repeat it or go on to finish it. There was a particular word that people kept repeating but I could not quite catch on. I had later on asked my friend about an A word everyone would repeat and she told me it was Amain, basically meaning  “true.” Later on in the service I noticed food (wine, cake and other foods) was brought out but I was told I would not be able to have any at the moment. We had to wait until the Rabbi recited the Kiddush. That was when everyone began to eat and mingle. My friend told me some people stayed there till sundown but they normally left at 12, so that was when it was time to go. It was really different from when I was younger and went to church with my parents every Sunday but it was pretty cool to be able to view and experience another religion other than the one I grew up with.

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