I attended the Family and Shabbat services held on the morning of Saturday, September 29, 2012. Saturday is Shabbat for Jewish people. It begins on Friday at sundown, this is a time that they cease work and take time to worship as a family. Their belief is that God created the world in six (6) days and on day seven (7) he rested. As part of my class assignment, I decided to attend the (Shabbat Service) because of its contrast to my religion which comes from a lineage of Missionary Baptist, where the Sabbath day is held on Sunday. I was eagerly welcomed by various members of the congregation. Among those who not only welcomed me, but also allow me to interview them as time permitted were as follows:
CRC member Ms. Roddi greeted me Shabbat Shalom and provided a student handbook called SHABBAT MORNING SERVICE Shacharit. This handbook was separated into five (5) parts of service: Awakening, Sh`ma and Her Blessing, T`filah, Torah Service, and Concluding Prayer. The handbook is written in Hebrew language. There is also the translation of the English language and an interpretation or clarification that is included. Ms. Roddi explained the order of services and some of the rituals before the service began. She also explained the icon entitled “Mezuzah”. This is displayed on every Jewish household door frame, including the entrance on the congregation with the exception of the restroom. This Mezuzah and the Torah as both made of the same parchment paper and its purpose is to protect and provide faith to those who enter. The outer casing of the Mezuzah is used to protect the prayer that in held inside of it. Ms. Roddi spoke of the ritual when the reading of the Torah is shared, how CRC members would touch the Torah, kiss their prayer cloth or their fingers and touch their lips. This is a symbolic way to bring sweetness to the soul.
The services were conducted by Rabbi Susan and Rabbi Ed. There was a band that included instruments such as the guitar, bongos, keyboard, and a tambourine, all a part of the celebration. CRC members ‘chanted’ and sang songs as the band members provided a selection of music.
Again, I found their services were vastly different from the traditional Baptist churches that I have attended in past years. The congregation was made up of forty to fifty (40-50) members taking part in the celebration or services. In a Baptist setting it is not uncommon to have two services held the same day, and attendance would be twofold or more, not including the choir members.
I was invited to sit with two members of CRC, who were quick to introduce themselves to me, as Mrs. Rose and Dr. John. As time permitted, using the handbook, they both were excited to assist me with answers to my questions and comments concerning the services.
Dr. John put my anxiety and concerns at ease as one of the rituals of dance took place. To my surprise, he asked me to take part in the dance, by which we danced around the room along with several other members of the congregation, as he instructed me along the way. Part of the dance ritual continued as we built an (imaginary) temple and other…