Good Essay On Ritual Service Of Judaism (Shabbat)
On February13th, I attended the Synagogue on Oxford Street called ‘The Beth Israel’ to observe a ritual service called Shabbat in Judaism. The ritual Shabbat started at five o'clock on Friday and lasted for almost 60 minutes. The ceremony was led by Rabbi Amram Maccabi, the official leader of ‘The Beth Israel’ Synagogue. He is the one who guided and showed me everything I needed to see including welcoming me at the entrance of the Synagogue and saying good-bye when I left around six o’clock. As for the reasons I have chosen the ritual worship service in Judaism, there are many including I have a near total lack of knowledge towards Judaism as a religion, it is rare for me to meet Jewish people in public, and because I have a curiosity to discover Judaism.
The first few minutes of my visit are filled with mixed emotions, such as terrified, stressed, dreaded, and anxious. However, there was some excitement to see what is up coming in the adventure I will be having in this sacred place. The mixed emotions disappeared gradually as I met Mr.Maccabi and started talking. He was so kind and helpful from the moment we had met until I got to my vehicle. Our conversation started with few questions from his side such as, “What is your name? What school are you in? Have you been to a Synagogue before? What is your religion?” and finally “Where are you from?” The questions felt like an investigation in the beginning, but soon I realized that those questions are the key for how he would guide me in his Synagogue.
Soon after we had the chance to introduce each other, we had been interrupted by two new visitors who seemed friends that came for the Shabbat. They had a few things in common and I thought they may be brothers. In their mid 50s, both were casually dressed, bald, and finally, have a lovely smile. These people took over to guide me around and show things that I have not seen yet. They understood the way I feel and knew that I am panicked when I first got to the Synagogue. They gave me some instructions like what we are about to do, how long would it take, and what we will be reading. Again, we had been interrupted by three new visitors and they had the same age range as the others. They were all nice people and they knew I am new here. They also understood that I might do things unintentionally that are disrespectful to their religion, so they showed me step by step what to do in slow motion and in imitation. However, only before we moved on to the room for Shabbat, they told me what Shabbat is. Shabbat is a ritual service which concentrates on Jewish’s daily lives, or the way that their community works and it happens every Friday evening, which they consider as the beginning of the seventh day of the week. It finishes on Saturday evening.
The Shabbat started with all of us getting into a small room that has a few benches (not the ones they use on Saturdays). What I remember from that room or that space was very little. For example, I remember the room was filled with candles everywhere, and it was well designed with beautiful trappings and some written words that I did not really understand. I was sitting in the back to see what the others are doing and imitate them. First, they made me wear the Kippah, a small cap that covers the top of a head in front of revered god. As long as Jewish people wear the Kippah, it is allowed to speak up the word of God, other than that, they are not allowed to say it. In the next step, we had to wait for the official or the leader to open up a specific page on the Siddur, a book that contains and works as daily prayers in Judaism. When the leader decided on a page, the congregations just follow his lead. In my understanding, that page had a specific topic to talk about. He made his small speech about what is the difference between humans and animals? And we had a little bit of valuable discussions with the group, everyone of has made his own point to talk about it. Moreover, after we have finished the speeches, we moved on to sort of singing, it was not with music, but vocal and with specific lyrics that I think had something to do with today’s topic. The congregations were singing with him with beautiful vocals that make you feel they are delivering massages to God. Because they were not sinning in English, I did not understand what they were saying. However, I have been told about what part they are sinning in the book. The book “The Siddur” was translated into many languages besides English and Hebrew
We kept singing and singing for almost 30 minutes, but what makes me confused a little bit in the Shabbat is that sometimes the congregations are not allowed to talk and sometimes it is fine to talk to your neighbour while the official is singing. The participation of the other congregations are important to let the official keep singing without interruption, such as bringing the wine to others. I do not really remember what they did to the wine. However, everyone took their turn. Furthermore, my feelings during the ritual while they were singing and praying was amazement of how well they know the lyrics. I also felt that I belonged to them when they handed me the book and the Kippah.
According to some research that I have found about Shabbat, the space we were praying and singing in is not just a normal sacred space that happens to be in the Synagogue. It is actually designed by specific structures, such as the candles, the pictures on the wall and the cups in a certain way called Havdalah. “Twisted wicks of spice and light and wine draw out the wax and wane of braided time stretch the knotted texture of its rhyme a moment's cadence in an endless line”. In addition, other research explains the role of wine after the leader finishes his prayer. “Cup of red wine. wine is the symbol of “gevurah” “strength" and brimming over "vitality" the abundance mind-set that it takes to commit and to let go of what you have in anticipation of a better future”.
In conclusion, my journey through the Synagogue was amazing, I never imagined in mind that one day I will be visiting another religion’s sacred place. The reason behind that is because when the word “Sacred Place” comes to mind, you unintentionally feel terrified and scared. However, I made the right decision when I decided to go there, not only to get knowledge about another religion but also because it can be considered as a new experience that is worth talking about for many years to come. Also, I still did not find a good reason for my feelings that I got in there. The shyness, the quietness, and the terrifying; they were just an illusion that did not make any sense to me. Nonetheless, I still feel thankful and appreciative to the congregations who led me there and helped me through the ceremony. They were patient enough to pause their reverences for a minute and concentrate with me to let me catch up with them and copy what they are doing.