Monday, January 19, 2009

Amazing experience

On Sunday my family and I went to a special service/event at my synagogue.

Sunday? Michael, isn't the Jewish Sabbath on Shabbat (sunset Friday till sunset Saturday)?

Yes it is. Let me explain. A year or two ago, a Free Will Baptist Church (a predominantly African American Church) burned down in Baltimore. That church was looking for a place to worship so what better House of Worship is there for an already large congregation than one that isn't being used on Sunday?

A synagogue!

So for the last year or two that Christian congregation has been a guest at my shul. Yesterday was MLK weekend so we had an exchange of services. Some members of each congregation visit the other and each clergy (Rabbi and Bishop) gave a sermon to the other congregation. I didn't go Friday night to the Jewish service so I can't tell you much about that. I really wished to hear the Bishop's sermon. My parents who went to the Friday evening service said that the Bishop's sermon was about the importance of dreaming.

Anyway, I went to shul on Sunday. The parking lot was packed and probably most of the Christian congregation parks else where and gets to the synagogue by shuttle (because of the Sunday school). I was really excited. Trying new things and observing different cultures. I had a similar feeling at the Christmas dinner in college. I never been around a significant amount of Christians before during the Christmas season. The college cafateria decorated in red and green, and they hired a one man band to play Christmas songs while people eat. It was interesting to observe. This time, I appreciated being a minority. It gives you an opprotunity to step back and observe society. It doesn't mean you can't participate in the joy. You have your own holidays and joys but you can also feel joy by observing the joy in others. That's what the Holiday Season in America is all about. But as a minority in America, you are more aware of other cultures and minorities. In highschool, my class participated in a program called BLUES (blacks and Jews) where a class of black students (a class from a Baltimore city school which is majority African American) and a class from my Jewish highschool learn about each other and their culture.

Where am I going? I hardly described the service.

The Sunday service was lead and run by the Christian Bishop and choir working together with the Jewish choir, Rabbi and Cantor. They had a drum set and keyboard/organ on the bima, (def?). With two choirs and two sets of clergies the bima was packed. The whole sanctuary was packed.

The music! Oh the music! Don't get me started on the music. The choirs and music players were terrific. Everybody in the building (my syangogue is big with many rooms) could hear the music and everybody in the sanctuary was in to it. It went beyond all of my expectations. It was truely a happy place. My dad and I went up to the balconey (mom is in the choir) and he said that the guy in front of us had tourrets. He was really into the service. He reminded of Hasidic story.

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