My overall experience with the Jewish community was wonderful. They accepted me with open arms, and allowed me to participate as long as I was comfortable doing so. I did not know I choose to visit during such an important time, Yom Kippur (September 23), but the community still allowed me to participate. It was more westernized then I expected but still very orthodox in how they worship. All the prayers were said in Hebrew but I was given a script that loosely summarized what was being said. Because of Yom Kippur, most of the prayers were about forgiveness, repentances, and enlightenment for their future endeavors. Everybody wore white, so I did as well. Everybody had to fast for at least 26 hours except pregnant women and children, which I did not do, I had already eaten before I went. I asked a fellow worshipper how does this special service differentiate from a normal service, her replied, the prayers are different, they tend to ask for guidance instead of forgiveness and they is usually a meal afterwards, just like Sunday dinner for Christians. After the two days of prayer (September 23-September 24) there is ten days of repentance.
This experience is very different from what I normally go through as being Christian, instead of a service full of prayer, we have a worship ceremony filled with dance and praise, and then my pastor delivers a sermon, also known as the Word From God, and then we have Devotion, which is when we are allowed to go up to the front of the church and ask for forgiveness, repentance, guidance, or to even join the church. On first Sunday’s we have benediction, which is the breaking of the bread and thanking Jesus for dying for our sins. On fifth Sunday’s we have a fellowship dinner which allows us to all dine as one big church family.
I personally did not feel much of a big difference besides the obvious ones. For example, unlike Judaism Bible study is optional not a rite of passage, Judaism studies the Old Testament while being a protestant Christian, we study the New Testament. They spend most of their time in prayer, whereas Christians spend most of their time in a lecture/discussion type environment. In Judaism they talk about Moses as Christians talk about Jesus but both faiths believe in God. Whereas Christians acknowledge Moses in the Old Testament, Judaism does not even mention Jesus or have the New Testament in the Torah.
All in all I had a great time, the thing that impacted me most about the experience was how much closer Jews seem to be with God then I see Christians, During worship not only did they pray in unison there was also times when everybody prayed individually out loud, that doesn’t happen in my church, we all pray in unison as if we were all one with God collectively. It made me realize that is probably why Jews don’t really scrutinize other Jew for their sins because they understand there is an individual relationship with god, Christians are supposed to know this but don’t tend to act like it, which is why I believe there is so much scrutiny put on Christian churches and Christianity as a faith.
- Cydnei Nettles
- REL 3308