St. Philip’s J2A youth group was recently off on a new adventure. We were invited to attend a Friday evening Shabbat service at Temple Emanu-El. We arrived prior to the service for a pot luck dinner on the patio. We were warmly welcomed by members of the congregation. Several prayers were chanted in Hebrew, and as none of us knew Hebrew, it was quite interesting.
After dinner we were invited into the Temple for the service. We were all, male and female, invited to wear kippahs (yarmulkes) for the service. Father John and Father Greg, kippahs already in place, joined us for the service. The service was unique in the fact that it was a Shabbat Rocks service, complete with rock band and rock chorus. While all had a booklet complete with readings and songs in English and Hebrew, all the songs were sung in Hebrew. It was a bit hard to follow but all did their best. The readings were done by the second grade class and were in English.
After the service we were invited up to the Ark and were shown the Torahs, consisting of the first five books of the Old Testament. It was explained how they are printed by hand on animal hide. The Jewish calendar revolves around the Torah and at the completion of the year, they have a celebration and all dance around it. We were given an understanding of what a young person must do leading up to their Bar Mitzvah and during the ceremony itself. The requirements are quite extensive. They must chant a section of the Torah and give a sermon on that section.
The evening ended with refreshments. We thanked all for having us, and departed for a J2A lock-in at St Philip’s.
We started the evening by each young person having an opportunity to reflect on what they had experienced at the Temple. All thought that the congregation at Temple Emanu-El was very welcoming and friendly, much like we are at St Philip’s. After sharing our thoughts regarding the service, we proceeded to assemble several hundred snack packs for the Border and Immigration ministry. The rest of the lock-in was free time to just enjoy each other’s company. We played games, watched a movie, and just basically hung out until it was time to turn in, around 2 a.m.
On Sunday morning, our J2A group welcomed Temple Emanu-El’s eighth grade class to our All Generations service, with story told by youth minister Sara Talley. After the service, Father Greg gave a tour of the altar area, explaining several things about the service, including the different meanings of candles, the different parts priests, deacons, chalicists, and acolytes play in the service, and lastly, a look inside the Tabernacle and the role that it plays. After the tour, we all gathered in the teen center. There were introductions all around and we proceeded to have a question and answer session. Both Jewish and Christian teens had many good questions regarding each other’s religions.
Overall, this was a wonderful weekend experience for our J2A youth. For our next foray into becoming familiar with other religions, J2A would like to attend a Muslim service.