Observation of the Roots of Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world that has survived some structural and religious changes over thousands of years. Judaism is an ancient Jewish religion that is predominantly practised in Northern America popularly known as Marti Judaism. Conservative Judaism is based on the basic principles of the Mosaic Law strict observance of the scriptural teachings based on the old testament of the bible. This paper seeks to outline the religious practices of this denomination, the form of worship and the symbols used in this denomination following a visit to the denomination in one of their normal worship sessions. The Shabbat is the official worship day in Judaism and starts on a Friday evening at sunset ending on Saturday evening (Weber, 2010, p1). The believers gather and worship in a practice that they term as opening the Sabbath. The Conservative Judaism believers observe Saturday as their Sabbath day. On the day of rest, believers are expected not to do any work or involve in any activity that may require physical or mental energy (Levine, 2012, p2). The observance of the day is made to commemorate the good work of the Lord in delivering them from the land of slavery as well as observing the law of God on rest and worship. The Sabbaths are further classified to different categories depending on the activities that those Shabbats carry in the Jewish religion. For instance, there are special Sabbaths where special prayers and activities are done at the synagogue while there are also regular Sabbaths when there are special activities in the synagogue rather than the routine worship practices. On the Sabbath day, the worship starts early in the day at around 6:00 am with a prayer from a denominational leader.
The prayer is followed by songs of praise and worship to thank God for the care he has taken upon the worshippers for the whole week. The worship songs are later followed by a reading of the Torah which is a religious doctrine that provides the basic beliefs and principles of the religion (McKay, 1994, p2). The Rabbi prays for blessing as people recite the readings of the prayer from the prayer book. The recitation is done with a lot of commitment and devotion by both the church members and the Rabbi. After the recitation of the prayers is over the congregation goes into singing. The mid-morning service starts with Amidah recitations which are done in silence and with a critical understanding. The mid-morning recitations are further followed by the public recitations that end with Ked shah. Readings from the book of numbers follow with an acclamation of praise to God. The mid-morning session will end with readings from the Talmud. The Talmud emphasizes the sacrifices and offerings that should be offered in the temple. Tithes and offerings are prayed for and offered at the synagogue before the Minyan prayer that includes all members of the community and the world at large is given (Levine, 2012, p3). The Rabbi leads people in reciting the prayer which they recite with a lot of dedication submission to God. The worship goes on with People singing and reading from the Torah. When the evening prayer starts, the people come together and hold together their hands as they recite the evening prayer. They recite the prayer with so much concentration that they even sway their bodies as they pray. The prayer goes on as people remain standing at the end of the prayer session people bow down to show respect to God. The Sabbath evening services begin with a recitation of Psalms 145.
The Midah recitations follow and then the next week Torah reading is read to the congregation. When it was a special Sabbath like the Sabbath when I visited the synagogue, prayers for the special occasion commence during the morning session and closing prayers recited during the evening program (McKay, 1994, pg2). For instance, on this special day, it was a blessing Shabbat which is normally the first Sabbath of the month the rabbi had to offer special prayers requesting for blessings for the whole month that had started. These prayers were essential in as it is a practice in the denomination to offer special prayers at the start of every month to request for Gods intervention and grace in all their activities those members of the synagogue will undertake in the month. A special Sabbath for prayers of blessings is fixed at the start of every month in the year. While in the synagogue, I realize that people are dressed decently in a dress code that does not leave any of their body parts exposed in a manner that may suggest disrespect or lack of seriousness in the worship. For instance, women are neatly dressed in long-sleeved dresses with their heads covered in headscarves and their long dresses covering their legs. Men are dressed neatly in clean garments and their heads covered using Yarmulke. The dress code inspires religious sobriety and commitment to serve God in truth and spirit. Symbols and Signs Used in Conservative Judaism There are some symbols that I observed in the temple during my visit. These symbols pray a critical role in the worship and the faith of the worshippers in the Synagogue. For instance, the Star of David in the synagogue represents protection and divine power that helps the believers to overcome the challenges that the devil sends to the believers (Gilman, 1993, p7). The Conservative Judaism faithful believe that Kind David, their ancestor and one of the greatest rulers in the history of Israel used the star to shield him from enemy attacks. The shin is used to symbolize God. The believers believe that there exists a define connection of the symbol and the blessings that come from God. The believers compare the symbol with the priestly hand of blessings (Weber, 2012, p9). Conservatives claim that the symbol is a visual symbolization of El-Shaddai which translates to God almighty. This symbol placed in the sanctuary of the temple proves that a strong belief in the power of God to provide and bless his people is one of the core believes of believers in this religion. Tablets of two stones are placed in front of the synagogue. The two stone tablets symbolize the two stone tablets that God Almighty gave to Moses during the making of the covenant at Mount Sinai (Levine, 2012, p9). These two tablets signify the commandments of God to human beings. When the stone tablets are placed in front of the synagogue, it depicts the commitment of the believers in observing the laws of God and living by the will of God. The stone tablets act as a constant reminder to the Conservative Judaism believers on their covenant with God and the need to observe the laws of God as he gave them to His prophet Moses.
A symbol of a lion is drawn on the walls of the temple. The lion is compared to the lion of Judah in the bible. This lion has a close association with the families of Dan and Judah. The association of the tribes to the religion affirms the commitment of the will of the people to live in accordance to the will of God and act according to his will (Gillman, 1993, p10). Among many other symbols that depict the pillars of the faith of believers in the denomination include the Chai symbol, the hamsa symbol, and the Shofar. All these symbols depict the pillars of the faith and commitment of the people to serving God and living by his will. Organization and Construction of The Judaism Synagogues The Judaism synagogue was constructed strategically giving a larger area termed as the main sanctuary used for prayer. In the temple, there are small rooms used by the Rabbi and other synagogue workers for administrative purposes. The synagogue may as well have the consecrated areas that may be used by the Rabbi for ministering to the congregation and leading prayers. There are libraries located in the synagogue that is used for users in the church or visitors who may want to read more on the denomination. Within the synagogue, there may be day care centers for young children and education centers to offer education to the young ones. The inner walls of the synagogue are usually painted and coated with attractive paints in the some of the walls engravings of symbols of the denomination and the images of important believes of the denomination may be seen. Ornaments of symbols of the denomination could be seen placed very carefully in front of the synagogue with a pulpit from where the person who leads others in singing standards.
A proper righting system and ventilation are provided to the house with bigger windows and exit doors. When entering, the pulpit believers and visitors dress very neatly and remove their shoes or sandals at the entrance of the synagogue. Inside the synagogue, people seat freely without considerations of the gender of the believers while the young children are at the front area of the synagogue. Visitors to the synagogue are also allowed to sit in any place that they feel comfortable to sit on. Visitors will only be required to remove their shoes as they enter the synagogue and dress properly by the requirements of the denomination. Observations while attending the service, I met a woman named Tara who was dressed in unfamiliar clothing, the color of the clothing also differed with some wearing white garments and others being dressed in sky blue garments. Men also wore some small hats called yalmulke that could barely cover their heads. The dressing code and the mode of worship in the synagogue were totally unfamiliar to me. Despite the surprise that had gotten from the dress code of the synagogue attendants, I was impressed with the mode of worship in the church. When it was time to sing, the people will sing at the top of their voices ensuring that they sang so perfectly and with a very good voice. I was particularly impressed with how the worshippers could recite the prayers in unison without making even a single mistake. The dedication of the worshippers towards serving God in truth and spirit caught my attention. The men, women, and children sang with a lot of energy, dedication, and commitment. True worship should be guided by the desire of a person to serve God without having worries on the perception of other people on how the person has dedicated himself in the service of God. The members of the synagogue together with their leaders had a lot of love and accorded me much hospitality than I had expected. The kind of reception that I received at the synagogue made me happy and comfortable as I also participated in their worship. Tara was happy to allow me to learn from their worship and join her in worshipping the lord. I was impressed by the treatment I got from the members of the temple and promised to visit them anytime when I have fewer commitments so that I can continue to learn from their worship. Consequently, the practices of Conservative Judaism denomination are drawn majorly from the old testament of the bible. Learning the mode of worship and the religious practices of the denomination does not end at observing the religious practices of the believers on the day of worship, but a detailed survey into the history and fundamental believes of the denomination.
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