Cultural Experience: Hebrew School Group at Temple Israel Essay

Submitted By foxgrey
Words: 1076
Pages: 5

It’s New to Me I thought rather hard on where I should go visit for my new experience. I thought about what I am interested in and why I should go to one place over the other. I wanted to go somewhere that would mean something to me, so that when I walk away from this class I would feel that I tried something new. I finally decided to go and view a Hebrew School Group at Temple Israel, which is a Jewish synagogue in Columbus. I felt that I should go attend a Jewish synagogue for many reasons, one of which is my fiancé, Sarah is culturally Jewish. She isn't religiously Jewish, but her parents were raised in the Jewish religion. I have talked to her about Judaism many times, and have expressed my interest to experience some of her culture. Having been raised a Christian, I had never even stepped foot inside a synagogue. I had mixed feelings of anxiety, and excitement. I love to learn, and experience new things, but also had a mild fear of rejection. The cultural experience that I attended was “Hebrew School” which consisted of a study into a specific story in the Torah. While driving up to the synagogue I realized that I have passed this building many times driving through Bexley. Imagine my surprise at arriving upon a building full of beautiful stained glass, and yet I never took notice of its beauty. I will admit that this felt somewhat familiar, not at all unlike Christian cathedrals. When I first walked through the front doors I was greeted and welcomed in. Bethany, the woman I talked to on the phone to secure my attendance was there and showed me to the room where the study was taking place.

When I first got to the room there were already many people there waiting, from the moment when I walked in I felt welcomed, but anxious. I was introduced to everyone, and they had me sit down. A few of the people there asked me questions about what school I go to and just showed an overall curiosity to why I was there. They all seemed pleasant, and genuine. After about 15 minutes we all sat down and began the study of the Torah. For this class the parishioners and I learned when the prayer “Shema” is supposed to be recited. “Shema” translates literally into “hear” or “listen”, and it is the first work in Deuteronomy 6.4, which says “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” The Shema is the central prayer in the Jewish prayer book and is often the first section of Scripture that a Jewish child learns. The prayer is supposed to be recited at the falling and rising of every day. This may seem tedious at best, but surprisingly it was rather interesting and informative. The main quote from the Torah that we focused on was “And thou shalt recite them...when thou liest down and when thou risest up” The argument was about whether the time to recite the “Shema” is concretely regimented or not. I took this to mean when should the prayer require it be recited, before bed, after dinner, anytime between? It was a very interesting debate. What interested me more though was the fact that the Rabbi knew so much, I realized why she had the authority of her parishioners. I had a hard time following everything she said, because of the use of the Hebrew language, and I was an outsider to this group. Although I was welcomed and made to feel at home, I still couldn't understand most of the details. Everyone there had grown up with this religion and culture so they were able to understand the details and the wording she used, but I did not feel comfortable to continue to interrupt the class to clarify things that everyone else understood. So I decided it was better to just observe during the class itself. I was very surprised to find out that Rabbi Sharon didn't say anything vague, but backed up everything she said with the facts. Many of the questions that…