After admiring some unintentional public art — a pristine bright red knit glove on a black wrought iron fence in a sculpted white snow bank — I tentatively approached a towering old building.
The precise time to light candles, along with lots of other information, is posted on the webpage for Beth Immanuel in Hudson. Expounding on their love of visitors, they suggest, “Just relax and try to enjoy this opportunity to connect with the Creator.” It’s further explained that although you’ll be handed a book it’s okay to “set it aside and watch, or just close your eyes and pray and meditate in your own words ... in the midst of this ancient form of worship.”
We’re reminded that “Jesus and his disciples participated in synagogue services every Sabbath, and so did the earliest Christians.”
The webpage informs us that Messianic Judaism refers primarily to Jewish believers in Jesus who continue to practice Judaism, but that most people who attend Beth Immanuel are not Jewish.
People dress up respectfully to show honor for God’s holy day. Helpful hints for getting the most out of your “adventurous” experience include: Stand when the congregation stands — such as any time the Torah scroll is lifted or in motion (it gets paraded about sometimes); sit when others sit; do not attempt to pronounce the Sacred Name of God. Men, Jew and Gentile, are encouraged to wear a kippah, skullcap. Communion is only once a year at Passover.
Main services are not recorded in honor of “Shabbat being a day when we abstain from creating.” However, Rosh Chodesh, at the start of a new month falls outside of that guideline. A recording from February of a previous year is posted in four parts.
Fast-paced staccato Hebrew syllables are interspersed with some familiar words like “Israel” and “alleluia,” plus page numbers clearly and quickly stated for the next chant, causing hardly any delay in the flow of verse. We mostly heard the highly skilled cantor, but some additional voices chimed in at key moments. Also, there was some instrumental accompaniment of beautiful, rich soaring melodies invoking joy.
A study topic description that got a good laugh out of my husband is: “How many agnostics does it take to change a light bulb? There's really no sure way to know for sure.”
I was having technical difficulties with various audio recordings stopping partway through, thereby encouraging a sampling. What I heard of D. T. Lancaster’s various talks easily held my attention. There were descriptions of a “mixed multitude” including livestock, “legal fictions” getting carried away about carrying on the sabbath, mid-afternoon rituals, and even Star Wars.
Shalom can greet and complete you both coming in and going out.