Thu 11 May 2006
Having been raised Catholic; I come from a conservative religious background. I thought that going to the Asbell Center would be a good idea for two reasons. I had not been to a Jewish service since a Bar Mitzvah during my childhood. I was also curious to see what (if any) changes a college setting would have on a traditional religion. I was surprised to see that the sanctuary was relatively bare except for the Ark and stained glass. I had assumed that the area for worship would be more ornately decorated.
The service began with a short prayer and readings from the Torah. The rabbi invited a woman from the congregation to speak, and we eventually were engaged in conversation. Following the presentation, more prayers and passages were said.
I was surprised to see the resemblances between Mass and a Jewish service. The formats of the worships are very similar, with readings from holy books (both using the Torah) and the delivering of sermons. The most striking difference, however, is the lack of separation between the congregation and the priest. At Mass, there is a clear boundary between those who are giving the sermon and those attending it. At the Asbell Center, however, that line was dissolved. The atmosphere was more like a discussion class versus a lecture.