Brianna Gowan B’Nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton, Fl Gudny Rossen Site visit date: 9/8/2012 REL 2011
4 November 2012
Religion is a set of beliefs, which vary depending on the culture, which connects humans spiritually and morally. Various religions exist all over the world, bringing people together or sometimes turning them against each other. As a child, I grew up with a Catholic father and a Jewish mother. My parents raised my sisters and I under both religions; however, we did not attend church or temple on a regular basis. My mother and father were not religious; they were more spiritual and believed in a higher power. I chose to visit a conservative temple that some of my family members attended in order to gain a first-hand look at their weekly experiences. The B’Nai Torah Congregation is a conservative Jewish temple located in Boca Raton, Florida. Because I grew up in such a diverse household, attending a Jewish temple to conduct research on Judaism was the perfect choice, and provided ample amounts of history about the religion’s origin, culture, and traditions.
First off, I never knew the main difference between Judaism and Christianity, all I heard as a child was the statement “Jesus was a Jew”. After attending the Jewish synagogue and conducting research, both online and in person, I found out one of the major differences between Christianity and Judaism; Christians believe that their savior is Jesus Christ while Jews are still waiting for their savior, also known as the “messiah” (Davies). In the Judaism religion the messiah is described as a normal human being who fulfills certain requirements listed in scripture. Some of the beliefs and requirements include the extinction of all weapons and death in the world upon the arrival of the messiah (Rich). They do not believe Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirements to become the messiah and therefore continue to pray for the day when he arrives (Rich). The B’Nai Torah Congregation allows conservative Jews to gather and spread their beliefs through various services such as religious school, youth programs, and community outreach programs. They offer religious schooling for children as young as preschool and educate them all the way to high school graduation. BRUSY is the youth program held at the temple and contains three different programs based on grade level: USY (United Synaguge Youth) for high school, Bonim for elementary school and Kadima for middle school ("Bnai Torah Congregation"). All of these programs provide fun activities for the youth along with education.
To start off my experience at the B’Nai Torah Congregation, I decided to attend the 9am temple service. This service is known as a Shabbat Service and was conducted by two Rabbis. Each Rabbi wore long, black robes with shawls and a small, circular, head piece placed on their heads. The women who were in attendance wore shawls and, like the male members, wore distinct head pieces. The men wore small circular head pieces while the women wore headpieces that looked similar to that of a coffee liner. It threw me off guard at first; I am not used to seeing such structured dress at a service. Clothing had to cover the shoulders of everyone in attendance and little leg was allowed to show. Everyone was dressed in formal clothing with the head pieces; some men even wore long shawls as well. After attending the service, I described the clothing to my mother and learned that the headpieces that the men and women wore are known as “kippahs”, while the shawls worn within the temple are known as a “Tallit”. After conducting further research, I discovered that tallits are shawls worn by many married men and women; they contain fringe at the end of the pieces, known as “tzitzit”, that the Torah instructs must be worn on the corners of all garments to represent the commandments that Jews are...
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