Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy New Year

I had that title listed as my facebook status message and I got this response by one of my friends, "I was seriously confused for a moment, and then remembered its the Jewish new year." Yes, this past Saturday was the Jewish new year, or Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew. I went to services, but haven't quite decided on a temple in Baton Rouge so actually went to a service at each one.

There's really only two main temples in Baton Rouge, quite different from where I grew up. Both temple are technically reform, although one is definitely more religious than the other. Friday night, for Erev Roshanah services, I took the boy with me and we went to the less religious temple.

The temple has the bigger congregation of the two by far. They are actually a little less religious than the reform temple I grew up going to. For example, Jewish prayer books are normally backwards from an English book in that the read from right to left. But the prayer books they used went from left to right, which bothered me probably more than it should have. I had gone to one service there last year and really liked their rabbi. Except she was no longer there, and I wasn't as big of a fan of their new rabbi.

For services the following morning I went to the more religious synagogue. The number one thing I like about this one is that it is literally right down the street from my apartment. What's interesting is that this temple calls themselves a reform temple I think in an attempt to mainly to not turn people away who don't want to go to a conservative service. But even so the service itself seemed much more like a conservative one. For example, they had 2 days of services for Rosh Hashanah which is normally done only at conservative temples. What I did like was the amount of participation by the congregants, far more than at the other one. Although, there were times when it seemed like everyone else knew the Hebrew to a certain prayer that I didn't. Although I'm sure if I went to services there more often it would start to come to me.

Something else I didn't like at the second temple was that they didn't blow the shofar. I was a little surprised by this and looked it up on-line. It turns out you're not supposed to blow the shofar on Sabbat, and this year Rosh Hashanah happened to fall on a Saturday. If I had gone to the second day of services I would have heard it. And I think if I had gone to services at the first less religious temple they probably would still have blown the shofar.

Overall, I can't say I've made a final decision. Although, since I'm not going to services very regularly I guess I don't feel a huge need to. For Yom Kippur in a few weeks, I think I'll wind up going to all services at the more religious temple, but more for a convenience sake than anything else.

And also, LSU won this weekend. What a great way to start off the new year!



  1. That left to right thing would probably bother me as well. There are certain traditions in the Christian Church that have been reformed or "modernized" and sometimes I just crave tradition.

    Also - can you speak Hebrew? I have the option of learning in my MDIV program, but the thought terrifies me due to my obsession with grades. I'm thinking maybe when I'm done with school I'll take some classes.

  2. I can't really speak Hebrew, except for a few basic words like yes, no, mom, dad. But can't carry on any type of conversation.

    I can recognize Hebrew letters and sound them out. But I have no idea as to what I'm actually saying.

  3. You're so lucky your boyfriend will go to services with you. J refuses to go to any of the temples here (he was in grad school and LSU and decided he didn't like either temple). He also refuses to go to any of the reform temples in New Orleans because they sing too much. So picky!

    I actually went to pre-school at the more traditional temple. I've thought about going and seeing how I like the Rabbi but so far haven't had any luck actually making it there. Last year I went to Yom Kippur services in New Orleans at the conservative temple and was completely lost.

    Hebrew is really hard! Bekah lived in Israel for awhile this past year and studied it at LSU and she still is not up to par for the Rabbinical schools. J actually knows a good deal but I think that comes from being raised conservative and their ENTIRE service is in Hebrew. (Which is consequently sleep inducing for me)

  4. We still have a teachable moment (if fleeting) to tell the story of Shofar. Its influence on prayer and its historical antecedents going back to the Temple sacrifices.

    For full explanation, go to

    Shofar Sounders WebPage

    Shofar WebPage

  5. Hey, the confused one on facebook was me! :) I really did wish I had retained more information from the Judaism class I took at Marquette :(