Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's A Colorful World

I made sure to wake up early this morning to hurry downstairs to the Commons to sign up for our priority evening activity: Tie-dye.

Today was indeed going to be a colorful day; our World Religions class was going to have the amazing opportunity of visiting a local synagogue: the Sherith Israel.

Upon arriving at the sight, we were warmly greeted by Cantor George Lieberman, who gladly gave his time to conduct a tour of the synagogue as well as debrief on Orthodox Judaism, covering aspects such as what sets it apart from the other sects of Judaism (Conservative, Reform, etc.).

Orthodox Judaism strongly believes in a strict interpretation of the Torah, also known as the Hebrew Bible. Adherents of Orthodox Judaism, therefore, closely observe any and all Jewish holidays. They also regard many forgotten principles during worship, such as the separation of women from men during prayers.

We were led into the main sanctuary where daily prayers are held, and my breath was taken away from the intricate wooden designs and colossal stained glass windows. Although the building was a bit warm because of the lack of air conditioner, the atmosphere of the sanctuary was peaceful, secure, and very holy.

Cantor Lieberman was energetic and was such a pleasure to meet. He granted us the liberty to view a few Torah scrolls, which were all hand-scripted onto parchment by scribes. The price of Torah scrolls, I learned, could vary anywhere, from a few thousand to even fifteen-thousand American dollars.

After kindly answering a few questions from us curious students, Cantor Lieberman said goodbye as we headed back to campus just in time for lunch. I am very grateful that I had the chance to experience being in a synagogue and learn about the rituals and beliefs of such a divine faith—actually standing in the holy place and meeting a cantor allowed me to learn about Judaism in a way I never could have in a regular classroom environment.

After such an enlightening episode, I felt very refreshed and could not wait for Tie-dye Night to begin.

I had never tie-dyed before today, so after watching our proctor Malaka, our activity leader for the night, give a quick lowdown about the basics of the art, we all began twisting and tying and dyeing our white t-shirts. There was a shortage of the cloth dye, so I decided that I could perhaps salvage some of the last drops by diluting it with some water to create more. It would be less pigmented, of course, but it was something. Soon enough, Aiyana and I were finished dyeing our shirts and left them with Malaka for the night--they need to soak for a while so that the dye will sink in. I cannot wait to unravel my creation tomorrow.

Since we finished our tie-dye activity about an hour earlier than scheduled, our group decided to crash the Spa Night party downstairs.

We had fun painting our nails and putting facial masks on to relax and unravel from the long week.

Overall, today was a very fun day, and I can almost bet tomorrow will be just as enjoyable—we have yet another field trip scheduled to a mosque (about an hour drive away) and a pool party/luau in the evening. I am enjoying my engaging studies as well as the Vanderbilt summer program overall thus far. I am afraid next week may fly by just as quickly as this one did.

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