Sun 19 Feb 2006
For my visit to a religious site, I went to the Shabbat service at the Asbell Center on Friday night at 7pm. The service was run by students, who I think are Hillel members, and there were about 4 or 5 other students present for the service. I know almost nothing about the Jewish religion and have had limited experience with Judaism besides a bar mitzvah that I attended when I was younger. The service was difficult for me to follow because it was mostly in Hebrew, but the student leading the service was really helpful in directing those that weren’t Jewish to the correct pages and helping us to follow along. I remembered very little from my experience at the bar mitzvah, but the Hebrew language sounded somewhat familiar and I did know what things like the Torah were.
The service began with the lighting of candles, and then different prayers were read, mostly in Hebrew. There were times when prayers and names of those being prayed for could be offered by the congregation, and everyone was very open to interacting with each other and helping everyone to follow along with the service. It was very different from the Christian church services that I am used to, but I enjoyed the casual atmosphere and felt like it was a good introduction to the Jewish faith.
I did enjoy the experience of the service, and I feel like it made me understand a little better what it means to be Jewish. I found the Hebrew language very interesting, and I feel like it would take so much time and effort to learn it. It made me understand more the commitment that Judaism requires, and why parents emphasize Hebrew school and a Jewish education. I assume that attending a service at the Asbell Center is a lot different than attending one at an actual synagogue, but for my first time I liked the Asbell Center because I felt that it was a very casual atmosphere and was conducive to asking questions and learning about the service.