My Night at a (reformed) Synagogue

Tonight 11 folks from my world religions class ventured to Sharon, PA in order to visit a Jewish Synagogue. A few things about the area of Sharon and Hermitage. It is the place of 5 major roads and the biggest interstate in Pennsylvania, making it a place for shopping malls and other things.

In the Judaic tradition there are three major camps: Orthodox, Conservative and lastly Reformed. Orthodox Jews are traditionalists, they are the ones who follow the Mosaic law to a T, Conservative Jews are the moderates theologically and politically, finally Reformed Jews are the United Church of Christ of Judaism. (So says my professor.) There are two common elements to all of these traditions - veneration of the Torah as the word of God (the five books of Moses), and the cultural identity factor.

Our guide led us through a worship service, what one would pray, chant, etc. and took us around the Synagogue, and elaborated on the Jewish calender (a trait of a cultural religion).

Our guide gave a very informal session of Q and A, and he found out that I knew Hebrew and allowed me to read a few words from the Torah. He chose the words, and I did the unforgivable sin, I spoke the name of God. He corrected me and moved on, not stoning me. (*whew)

Apparently the focus for Reformed Judaism is redemption here and now, not for eternity. It is to be a better person, to apply the Mosaic law to today. This results in a very moralistic, proud piety. Which was exactly what Christ preached against, as the pharisees embodied such lies. One student asked, what do you mean by redemption? Our guide politely answered that we are to reconcile and forgive our neighbors. We are not to ask for such things from God, as we did not offend him, but our fellow man.

The same student asked him about the messianic passages, to which our guide quickly replied I am not equipped to handle such questions. It is sad to see those who are of the nation of Israel, not seeing the truths in their Scriptures that point to the redeemer of Israel, making them true Israelites.