Touring Synagogues

Students from Ms Wilks’ Humanities class visit Jacksonville Jewish Center

William Schmidt, Staff Reporter

Rabbi Rosenblum recites the Torah while students listen. (William Schmidt)
Rabbi Rosenblum shows students the intricate details of a Jewish Prayer shawl called a tallit. (William Schmidt)

On Nov. 16, Ms. Wilks’ Humanities and World Religions Honors class went to the Jacksonville Jewish Center in Mandarin, Florida. The purpose of the trip was to identify similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity.

One of the main similarities has to do with the first five books of the Bible. For Judaism, this encompasses their Holy book, the Torah, which is read from right to left. It is sung in the original Hebrew language, composed of a series of dots and lines. 

Another difference within Judaism is the symbols on the altar, specifically the tower with circles going upwards. According to Rabbi Shira Rosenblum, the circles each represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

In Catholicism, the Cantor is a member of the congregation. This is not the case in Judaism, where the cantor is a clergy member who undergoes the same five years as a Rabbi does, except they are trained in different tunes, scales and many facets of choral arrangements.

They teach, preach and can even lead prayer services, as long as they are probably educated about the religion. The same can be said about anyone in the congregation, who are free to teach with proper training and experience.

However, Rabbi Shira said that in order to have a service, ten people must be present. This does not include children, unless they have gone through their bar and bat mitzvah, where children become men and women of the congregation. 

Throughout the visit, Ms. Wilks’ learned everything about Judaism, from culture to leadership in the church and similarities and differences within the two Abrahamic religions.