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Ancient World

Sacred Space Visitation


Name: Veronica Czyzewski
Name of Church/Temple/Synagogue you visited: Temple Emanu El of West Essex
Location: Livingston, NJ
Date of Visit: May 9, 2015
Friends with whom you visited place of worship: Gabrielle and
Elizabeth Tartakovsky
What impressed you most about your visit?
I was most impressed with the decorations and the architecture of the
temple itself. The roof of the temple forms a triangular, A-shape, and
inside, the roof is lit up specifically that represents a connection with
the god. In addition, I enjoyed seeing the parts of the Synagogue that
we learned about in class. I saw the ark, torah scrolls, the eternal light,
the menorah, and the Ten Commandments, which showed me a similar
connection with that of Christianity.
In what ways was this place of worship similar to your religious
tradition?
I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the synagogue, since it
reminded me of Christianity very quickly. Like that of a church, there is
a seating area for the people, there is a sacred place for the religious
text, and everyone faces forward toward the rabbi or the priest. Also,
there is a place in the back for the torah scrolls, but in a church, this
would be for the Holy Communion and both religions have Ten
Commandments.
In what ways was this place of worship different from your
religious tradition?
Unlike Christianity, there are not menorahs in the sacred space and
there are no torah scrolls, but a Bible. Also, the Ten Commandments of
each religion are a bit different from each other and the symbols of
each religion are different. Christianity uses a cross, and Judaism used
the Star of David to represent their faith.
Can you briefly describe some of the parts of the service ie:
leaders, music, prayers, readings, congregational participation
etc.?

We attended an evening service, called Maariv. This service consisted


of Shema and its blessing and related passages being read. There was
thehe Sjemoneh Esrei and the Aleinu. The congregation was reading,
singing, and looking up at the rabbis podium when he was speaking.
Overall, I thought that the service was very nicely done and there were
many things that I discovered that I did not understand or know from
just reading from a textbook.
In what ways did the physical space enrich the spiritual
experience?
The synagogue enriched the spiritual experience because of the
decoration inside and the people having such a strong passion for their
faith. In addition, just by seeing the different components of a Jewish
sacred space, I was able to communicate and see the significance of
the Torah scrolls, the Torah, the Ten Commandments, and the Ark. I
never understood how important all of these aspects were to the
Jewish community.
Was this a worthwhile experience for you? In what was yes, in
what ways no?
This was definitely a worthwhile experience for me because I was able
to truly see and understand the Jewish faith from a entirely new
perspective and I was able to see the importance of different religions
being experienced by non-believers of that religion.
How does your sacred space visitation connect to your Legacy Project?
My sacred space visitation connects to my Legacy Project about the Temple of Dendur
because my artifact from the Met is a temple, similar to the one I visited in which Jewish
people worship their god. In the Egyptian temple, there are also people who worshipped
the Egyptian sun god Aten, and honored his presence in their lives. Similarly, Judaism
allows people to worship the god, Yahweh, and lets people honor his commitment to
Judaism and its quick spread throughout the world.