OCTOBER MISSION ACTIVITY: Friday-evening Shabbat service at Jewish synagogue B'nai Jeshurun
Just as the sun was setting over the Hudson, we gathered at the beautiful Temple B'nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side to participate in a Jewish Kabbalat Shabbat to welcome the Sabbath. The synagogue, rather unassuming on the outside, was breathtakingly beautiful on the inside. Sunlight was streaming through several large stained-glass windows, geometrical patterns as colorful as they were intricate adorned the walls, beautiful gates guarded the Ark and the synagogue's sacred Torahs, and there was even a full pipe organ overlooking the roomy prayer hall. It certainly felt like a place of reverence and worship.
Even more beautiful than the interior of the synagogue was the Shabbat service itself. Our Jewish friends understand that the Sabbath is not simply a day on which we put aside our typical work activities; rather, the Sabbath is a day to celebrate, a time to express pure joy as we remember our covenants with God. We sang, we clapped, we prayed, and we even danced as we welcomed in the "Sabbath bride" and gave our thanks to God for remembering us. The highlight of the evening was when all of us from the MTC were invited to join hands with what must have been half the congregation and dance around the entire synagogue to the liveliest Hebrew music you could possibly imagine. One thing is certain--no one falls asleep at Jewish Sabbath service!
After the service concluded, we were lucky to be able to speak with two Jewish graduate students who will soon be ordained as rabbis. They shared insights into the importance of the Torah and of Sabbath day observance to the Jewish faith. We were all inspired by how much they love and revere the word of God, and we came away with new motivation to appreciate the scriptures and our own Sabbath day observances.
We are so grateful for the chance we had to sing, pray, and dance with our Jewish friends as we greeted and celebrated the start of the Sabbath!
ON YOUR OWN
If you would like to learn alongside us at the MTC but were not able to join us at the synagogue, then you can read the following two articles about Jewish Shabbat services and the Torah: http://www.jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm & http://www.jewfaq.org/torah.htm.
Think about what you can learn from our Jewish brothers and sisters to make your own scripture and Sunday worship more meaningful. Enjoy!