For my first visit to a religious site, I attended a Jewish Service at the Asbell Center on Friday. I do not consider myself to be that religious. I am Presbyterian and used to attend Church on a semi-regular basis with my family. However, now that I am at school I have not attended any services. Although I do still go to Church on Christmas and Easter.
I decided to go to the Asbell Center because I am interested in learning more about Judaism. My only experiences with this religion are that I have friends and extended family that are Jewish. I have attended multiple Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. However, I went to these when I was younger and really did not understand what was going on (except for the fact that there was a party). I also have attended a Jewish wedding, but once again I did not understand all the customs.
The service that I observed was a Shabbat. I have to admit that I was a little uncomfortable and nervous at first because I did not really know what to expect. The other people in attendance were very nice and welcomed us into the services. From talking with some of my friends I learned that Shabbat is similar to a Christian service on a typical Sunday. This is because it is a time for people to rest, unwind, and reflect on the week. The service starts with the lighting of candles and the reading of many prayers, mostly in Hebrew. Time was offered for members to express their individual feelings. The members also took this time to explain certain traditions and customs to the “visitors” to help us follow along. I enjoyed the discussion regarding the Ten Commandments, as I learned a different way of viewing them.
All in all I enjoyed my experience at the service. I found it to be very laid-back and open, which helped me feel more comfortable. I feel as though I was able to get a better understanding of Jewish traditions and services. I am thankful that the members were willing to answer our questions and explain their beliefs and traditions. I feel like a service at an actual temple would be a lot more formal, but I did like the casual atmosphere. I look forward to learning more about Judaism and hope to return to the Asbell Center for another visit.