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Temple Israel Final_Marcus Lloyd

Temple Israel Final_Marcus Lloyd

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Published by: Marcus Lloyd on Aug 04, 2009
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Marcus LloydREL 2011Section RVD-1091 January 31, 2009Site: Temple Israel of Greater Miami Time: Friday 30
th
of JanuaryMy Understanding of Judaism
One of the first things you come to appreciate about religion is the devotionthat it inspires. Judaism is a religion inspired not only by the word of Yahweh butalso the faith of its devotees. It has a rich history punctuated by the schisms thatso often mark historical religions. Today those schisms are represented in terms of the Orthodox Jew and the Non-Orthodox Jew. Temple Israel of Greater Miami situatedin the heart of Miami subscribes to the non-orthodox tradition of Judaism.
OnFriday the 30
th
of January I had the pleasure of attending my first Jewishservice at Temple Israel of Greater Miami. I was very excited to study thisparticular faith within the synagogue. Submitting to stereotypes of Judaismand the Jewish race I had previously failed to learn that this great faith has arich history, symbolism and tradition. There is a word called Judaism that is not limited to religion. More thanhalf of the Jewish people living in Israel say that they are secular and anequal proportion living in the United States do not attend Jewish religious
 
services. To begin, Judaism must also then be used to refer to a certain raceof people with a common history. In 1980 the United States Supreme Courtrecognized this and declared “Jewish” to be a race. The Jewish collective isnow recognized throughout the world as an ethno race. 41 percent of thatworld population of Jews now lives in the state of Israel. The remaining Jewsliving outside of the land of Israel are said to be the Jewish Diaspora. All of this said, it would surprise many to know that Jew is actually not a race.Common ancestry is not required to be a Jew. Instead, a Jew can be SammyDavis Jr., a convert, or hail from Ethiopian origins. Thus we learn the words Jew and Jewish can be misnomers. This paper will limit the discussion of “Judaism” to the study of its religious context and by default that whichimplicitly refers to the study of the Torah, the Jewish holy text. The word for the Hebrew Bible, “Torah,” means learning or instructionin Hebrew. The authorship of this holy text is said to be from Moses andserves as the basis of Jewish law and tradition. This Jewish Bible isnoteworthy in that it serves also as the precursor to the Christian Bible.However, throughout the history of Judaism cultural practices and knowledgeof Judaism have not been limited to the holiest of Jewish texts, the Torah. There also exists the Talmud for the purpose of discussing Jewish ethics,traditions law and history. Instructional texts such as “Gates of Prayer forShabbat and Weekdays” found at Temple Israel of Greater Miami furtherguide traditional religious ceremonies within a synagogue.
 
In order to fully understand Judaism it becomes necessary to define itstraditional words, namely those that I came into contact with. A
synagogue
isa Jewish house of prayer. Nevertheless, Jewish worship may be carried outwherever ten or more Jews assemble. A
kippah
is a skullcap worn byobservant Jewish males. Yet, it may also be worn by women within somebranches of Judaism against popular stereotype. Hebrew is referred to as theholy language of Jews and is used for prayer and study by Jewishcommunities across the globe. Israel is referenced as the “land of milk andhoney” in the Torah. This land is both sacred and central to the Jewish faith.A menorah is a candelabrum that in the words of the Torah symbolizes
"alight unto the nations." (Isaiah 42:6) to be lit during religious observances.A menorah was the first Jewish symbol that I noticed upon entering TempleIsrael of Greater Miami. All seven candles flickered in the dimly lit synagoguelocated in downtown Miami. On Friday the 30
th
of January
service began at 7:30p.m. and continued for almost an hour and half. Warmly welcomed by twohosts the service began in earnest with prayer accompanied by soft pianomusic. I quickly noted that the service was highly structured and followed adetailed program set out in “Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays,Shabbat Evening Service II.” The first prayer signaled the lighting of twoShabbat candles followed by an up-tempo hymn whereby the congregationclapped in rhythm. To my surprise I noticed that the general layout of thetemple resembled that of a Christian church save a few exceptions. Thealtar of the synagogue was centered on the “ark.” No choir was present nor

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