So apparently while I was at Yom Kippur services with Shana, Britton was jamming out last night. I kept asking Shana different questions about Judaism, so she finally decided to just take me to temple. I have never been to a synagogue before, so I didn’t really know what to expect, and I told Shana to correct me if I did anything that was obviously offensive, but I think I did ok. I took Anthropology of Religion in college and have learned a lot about and I am interested different religions, but I haven’t experienced very many of them first-hand.
The services start with lighting of memorial candles and a lot of singing in Hebrew which was difficult for me to follow along because, I can’t read Hebrew. And the book is read from right to left. They had a few parts where I could try to sing along in Anglicized Hebrew. We said “avinu malkeinu” over and over again which means, (now that I can look it up on Wikipedia) Our Father, Our King. We also said “Adonai” a lot which also means Lord our God. And of course, Amen…but it was more like AH ah AH ah AH ah May aaaeeen (imagine singing it for about 30 seconds). We stood whenever the “Ark” was open. The ark is like the alter but it is where the Torah is kept. I kept thinking of that scene in Pulp Fiction when he opens the case and it glows gold on his face…
Then when it was closed we usually could sit. The closed ark had a beautiful golden picture of a tree- the Tree of Life. They had five heavy wooden things that were covered in pretty cloth that they rotated having different men hold. These, Shana explained, are the 5 books- the first 5 chapters of the Bible- and they store them in the Ark.
Since Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, we also talked/read along about all the things that we may have done willfully or unwillfully wrong to people and to God. It is kind of like confession except that everyone would do it together and no one was singled out.
The rabbi, who was female (that’s cool!), also gave a sermon called “Why Be Jewish?” I thought it was pretty interesting. She also talked about divine pleasure as the main reason for being “one” with God: all other pleasures are fleeting. The men and boys -and some women- all wore yamikahs (sp?) and a shawl (I can’t remember the correct term for it). And most of them had little knots on them that Shana said are supposed to remind you to do good deeds or mizfuts (sp?). I thought she said “misfits” but probably not. I think the yamikah is to remind you that God is always above you.
Shana said that everyone is supposed to fast and go to temple all day today until sundown when they will Break-The-Fast. After the sermon (is that the right word?) we went and said “hi” or “Good Yentuv” to people. It was kind of funny because I knew more people there than Shana did!
Overall, it was a very neat night and I learned a lot. I definitely should have worn better shoes for all the standing though! And, we were also invited to go to a sweat lodge with an American Indian soon, so that will be cool as well.