Sunday, July 21, 2013
A Special Time with Peder
Friday night I was fortunate to have a "date" with my son, Peder. This came about after I said once in awhile, I would love to spend some time with just him. What did we do and where did we go? We visited one of the local Jewish synagogues for their Shabbat services.
I had called the synagogue to ask if visitors were allowed. The nice woman I spoke to assured me it would be fine. She said the service started at 5:45, and would be in the chapel, rather than the sanctuary. Casual business clothes would be fine. Peder would have to wear a yarmulke which they had available there at no charge. There would be lots of music—sung in Hebrew—with an English translation. She went on to say we could get up and dance if we felt so moved. Hmm. I don't think so.
Peder and I pulled into the huge parking lot at 5:35, and we were the first car to arrive! Shortly after, another car arrived and parked in the row behind us. Funny thing is, he just sat in the car. What gives? We decided to go inside. Once in, we were intrigued with the beautiful displays and art work here and there – menorah's, for example. We found the table with the yarmulkes and then proceeded to find the chapel. Inside, a trio was practicing some music—a young man playing a bongo drum of sorts, a woman at the piano, and an older man with a gorgeous guitar – at least I think that is what it was.
We took our seats – about five rows back from the front. An older lady was seated in front of us. I was surprised to see she was wearing a yarmulke, also. She kindly got out of her seat and went to a side room to get a worship book for Peder and me. I don't know what it was called, but a man announced the service would start with page one. Again, I was surprised to learn the Jewish people read from the back to the front of the book. In fact, I learned a lot Friday night. Most of the service was in Hebrew, with lots and lots of audience participation. The music was beautiful. Every now and then Peder and I figured out where we were and sang along. The rabbi sat across the aisle from us, and periodically announced what page they were on. This had to be for the benefit of us. The service was treated rather informally, with people quietly talking to each other while the service was going on, or leaving and often returning. Occasionally the rabbi sang Hebrew while the congregation read aloud. Now and then we stood. There was some bowing involved, too. To the east, to the left, to the right. At one point we all faced the back of the room. I would like to have this explained.
At the conclusion, folks greeted one another with "Shabbat Shalom," including the man and wife seated next to us. They then introduced themselves, the wife sticking around to answer any of our questions. She said she gives tours for groups prior to the services if we ever wanted to return, and went on to say that they should take the opportunity to visit some area churches. Peder and I found the whole experience very interesting and said we may return sometime.
I would love to return for a Sabbath service (Saturday mornings) which we were told is three hours long, but in three one hour segments. It is held in the sanctuary, which has a gorgeous stained glass window in the front. I would like some explanations of some of the pieces of art throughout the building, too.
We then had a very nice dinner at Vescio's. This is an Italian restaurant I became familiar with when I was in college. Both Peder and I had a very nice time and decided to do this again sometime.