Thursday, July 21, 2011

"The Day is Short and the Task is Great"

First field trip today! We went to the Congregation Sherith Israel, which is a Jewish synagogue. The synagogue is 105 years old, though it used to have a different location – at the Opry Center. It moved over in 1947 and has had about 3 Rabbis since the move. This synagogue is an Orthodox Judaism worship center. Orthodox Judaism is the strictest form of Judaism. The other forms are Conservative, Reformed, and Reconstructionist (a new version which allows absolutely everybody in). While listing these other divisions of Judaism, the cantor we talked to seemed to look a bit down towards the other, mostly because he feels like Orthodox is the only true form of Judaism, since it follows the Torah exactly.

The room that we were in was packed with shelves full of hundreds of Jewish texts. He pulled out huge scrolls of the Torah. He said that they were etched by hand into parchment. These scrolls run for 12,000 dollars or higher. The chapel was gorgeous with stain glassed windows depicting holidays, holy places, and other associations of Jewish history and culture. The one on the left depicts Jerusalem, and the one on the right depicts the Holocaust. We were also told of the customs and rules of Orthodox Judaism. The congregation is very stricit on who they admit and who they convert. One has to prove that they wish to be there and a part of the community. They have rules on the mourning period of families (12 months); rules of no touching with the opposite sex until marriage after one has reached puberty; rules of observing the Sabbath and also the cleansing of one’s self in a Mikvah. Something new I learned was that there was such thing as Jewish Court. They settle non-federal cases of members of the Jewish community on issues like money, conversion, etc.

Most of what the man talked about was stuff we had learned about in class. But the rules were something we were not aware of. We knew that Orthodox Judaism was strict, but not that strict. They have their reasons though. It’s the word of God through the Torah.

We continued the class discussion today with Hinduism. The religion is starting to make a bit more sense. We learned the different incarnations/avatars of God (Brahma). Hindus visit a temple usually dedicated to a particular god or goddess that is an aspect of the true One god. They worship the God that’s best for them. Make sense?

Julia and I are partners for a Minority Religions project. Our religion is Scientology. I haven’t researched enough to give a full report on it, but from what I know so far, it’s so strange. I will report back after we do more research.

Our recreational activity tonight was tie-dying t-shirts! I’ve only tie-dyed once in my life, so this was yet another blast to the past experience (the first was re-discovering my childhood memories of fish sticks). I tried to keep my colors limited to two – blue and yellowish gold. Yay Spartans! But there ended up being a lack of dye for all 20 of us, and I didn’t get to color the sections purely that color, so some white is still showing.And we all learned in Kindergarten that blue and yellow make green. I just wish that that weren't true when tie-dying, since my colors bled together. Blue dye is also all over my hands, so my clever things to say about them when people ask are: “I fought a Smurf”, “I’m actually part Avatar”, and “I am the Hindu god Vishnu”. I can really only use that last line for people in my World Religions class, since no one would know what I’m talking about otherwise.

We finished the tie-dying pretty early, so we took over the Spa-Night rec. activity. I painted my toenails and Julia did the same, plus she gave herself a face mask.

It was a fun day. I’m planning on sleeping in a bit later tomorrow and cutting down on breakfast time.

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