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I really want to go to a mega church

Ever since I got to Texas there is one thing I have wanted to do that I haven’t ever done, and that is go to church. I know what your thinking, but no, I am not going to the other side and joining the Christians, in fact I have no interest in Christianity at all (well maybe some of those Texas hotties)- I merely want to see what its like in a mega church. Maybe my interests were peeked by the movie Borat, but its really something I have always wanted to do. I have been in churches before, many of them, not many during service however.

When my housekeeper Josette died, my dad and I went to church in Brownsville and yes we were the only white folk there and I enjoyed it immensely. In fact I had a way better time then I ever had at shul, of course I felt like I was at a James Brown show rather then a memorial service. The preacher sang and screamed, and he was backed up by all these hefty women who sang Amen’s and Hallelujahs, it was just like the movies, only louder, so loud that my father stuffed tissues in his ear while we sat in that Brownsville congregation.

My fascination with Texas mega churches is different. If there was a synagogue with 30,000 people in a attendance I would also be curious to check it out- for me its not a religious experience, it’s an interesting thing to do, I highly doubt they will convert me. In Houston The Lakewood Church not to be confused with the Lakewood Yeshiva, has 30,000 members and services are held in the old stadium of the Houston Rockets. However I am not that desperate to praise the lord and if I do listen to the sitra achra, will be attending church within the Dallas area.

In Dallas I have my eyes set on two different mega churches, they are the two other largest churches in the area, Fellowship Church in Grapevine has 28,000 members and their website has the words “seven days of sex” plastered across it- progressive are we? The Potters House in Dallas is the other one and they supposedly have 18,000 members.

I wonder if churches are the same as shul, do they have 50 people at Sunday service while they have 10,000 members. Then on one day a year the Christian Yom Kippur whenever that may be, they have to open up some room to fit everyone in, or do all the members actually show up all the time? Do they have Kiddush afterwards? Is it anarchy or is it peaceful? Do they just have wafers, or do they have regular food too? Do Christians even do the whole wafer thing or just Catholics? I wonder if they have those cheap Israeli wafers with the hazelnut filling inside, you know the kind that everyone puts in their shalach manos on purim.

One of my fears of attending church is that someone will realize I am Jewish. Maybe someone who used to Jewish will notice my hook nose and horns and force me up on stage to confess all of my sins and be saved in front of 20,000 members who are shaking because they can feel the light. Maybe I will forget to tuck my tzitzis in or take my yarmulke off, man I can just see it now- “orthodox Jewish spy infiltrates Texas’s largest church to find out how to boost dwindling membership.”

Then of course there are the halachic aspects of the situation. I have heard that you are not even allowed to enter a conservative or a reform shul- but I don’t really like that opinion- seems kind of awful if you ask me- but surely if you cannot go to conservative shul- how on earth could you go into a church? Then again you can enter a mosque and even daven inside, although I would not recommend it.

On the way to the little Chassidic shteeble on 91st street on the upper west side there is a church, that church has an awning that reaches all the way into the street- my father would not let us walk under the awning saying that you could not use the churches property as a shortcut or something of the sort- if he only knew I wanted to attend church. My last girlfriend told me that you could go into a Christian or non-denominational church but could not go into a Catholic church because the Catholics are not monotheistic- if this were the case I could attend church without having to push the yetzer tov off my shoulder. Of course I am sure nowadays Rabbis would just say “of course you cant go into church- why would you want to?” But what if I did want to, I also want to take some footage of the people being saved- I thought that part of Borat was great.

This video shows what goes on in the biggest church in America:

Joel Osteen is the pastor of the Lakewood Church in Houston and judging from the way this guy looks I would say plenty of women hop on over because he’s not a bad looking dude. G on you tube and watch the other videos- doesn’t really seem to religious to go to one of these mega Churches- seems more like something to do on a Sunday morning before brunch at I-hop.

{ 81 comments… add one }
  • tnspr569 December 3, 2008, 9:42 PM

    Hey – I like those Israeli wafers! Not that I understand the Israeli obsession with them, but…

  • A23 December 3, 2008, 9:50 PM

    These churches must really be raking in the dough.

  • Phil December 3, 2008, 10:20 PM

    Definitely a halachic no-no, but I can see how one may be intrigued. Still, all you need is to remember how many Jews the church / christians tortured, robed and murdered over the years, often led on by the local galach / priest. Should be enough to never want to make any self respecting Jew want to even go near those places. I personally spit every time I pass one. Call me racist, bigoted or prejudiced, I say just ask your grandparents or great grand parents as the pasuk says “she-al avicha veyagedcha, zekenecha veyamru lach”.

    Esav hates Yaakov, that is halacha. Maybe your next outing should be to a KKK parade or pro palestinian rally, I’m sure they would find it real funny if they figured out they were infiltrated by a frum Jew.

  • Tamara December 3, 2008, 10:32 PM

    Phil’s comment is just absurd.

    I’ve gone to a dear friend’s Catholic Funeral, I simply didn’t kneel when others did. I’ve visited an AMAZING cathedral here in L.A. who have a beautiful mikvah (errr, babtismal pool that is huge like a mikvah). I’ve also visited Orthodox shuls though I’m a conservative Jew who was raised reform. I’d love to go in a mosque, the artwork is amazing.

    I personally believe that one of the only ways we will ever get past all this bigotted nonsense it by being open to others. I’m not saying I want to go pray, but there are far worse things a Jew can do than go “see” what happens in a church.

    Frum, I just got done reading “The Search for God at Harvard”. It’s quite good and is written by an orthodox Jew who went for a year to study religions of all sorts at Harvard. His experiences and POV are enlightening. Do read it!

  • Michele December 3, 2008, 10:35 PM

    They are rakingin the dough. Think how many millions are raised if just half of the 30,000 people tithed the bible recommended 10%. How do you think they can afford to purchase and run the mega-churchs with the broadcasting equipment and professional accoustical systems.

    Catholic Church’s and Christian Church’s are really different. Don’t go to a Catholic service they are usually very boring. As a child my parents wouldn’t go to Church but made us go. We would get there as late as possible, go to the bathroom, back upstairs for communion (the wafer thing), pick up the weekly bulletin (so we could provde we had been there), the stay for the last bit of the service and leave as soon as possible the priest said to go in peace. No singing final hymns for us.

    Go to one of the Christian Church’s many of their services are like rock concerts. I’ve only been to a few but the people are really nice and welcoming. You would find people to talk to.

    No kiddish afterwards. A few places have coffee and danish. One Christian Church I went to actually had coffee in the lobby and people were drinking it during the service. That’s too weird!

  • Finz December 3, 2008, 10:41 PM

    You sound like that guy Binyamin Cohen, who visited megachurches for a year and wrote a book on it. Here is an interview with him. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEmeVYq3l74

  • Frum Satire December 3, 2008, 10:42 PM

    Of course they are raking it in- probably from advertising itself. Wait has anyone seen the simpsons when the church decides to get corporate sponsors and Lisa protests

  • Adam December 3, 2008, 10:44 PM

    Benyamin Cohen, a frum Yid and journalist, spent a year going to a different church every Sunday, and just published a hilarious book about his experiences.

    http://myjesusyear.com/

  • Michele December 3, 2008, 10:59 PM

    But even if you leave out the advertising they are raking it in. Many of the religious Christians I know tithe 10% off the top and then make donations for all of the additional stuff (orphans in india, etc.)

    By the way, Christians are monotheastic(sp?) we believe in one God. There is the whole holy trinity thing. I can’t really explain it, you just have to believe that they are one and the same.

    I loved the Simpsons. I don’t remember the episode, I’ll have to see if my brother has it.

  • shevers December 3, 2008, 11:06 PM

    No Phil is right. A Jew can’t go into a Church. It has nothing to do with Catholic or Protestant… its still not monotheistic for a Jew.

    Jews are allowed in Mosques because Islam is actually monotheistic.

    I was sort of taught you should even avoid using one as a landmark in giving directions, walking next to it etc.

  • lkwdbum December 3, 2008, 11:10 PM

    Phil maybe if you stopped being such an ignorant redneck people wont call you racist, bigoted and prejudiced .Does spitting on churches actually make you feel better-bec thats truly pathetic ,kindly keep your moronic viewpoints confined to your blog which at least no one reads youre making all jews look as stupid as you………btw the “halacha” esav sonei es yaakov-did you ever take it at face value -esav hated yaakov ,not all non jews.
    Put down the fishing rod and pick up a book

  • Matisforever December 3, 2008, 11:10 PM

    If this type of thing interests you the mega-church type thing i mean not of course the christian thing, you should watch Jesus Camp. its a documentary about this type of evangelism. really interesting.

    about the idea of not going inside non-orthodox shul i think this is the orthodox community who believes this is forgetting that it is immoral to judge another’s jewishness in the sense of level of believe.

  • Delia December 3, 2008, 11:23 PM

    i really don’t see the appeal.
    a friend has been trying to get me to go to one of the many mega churches in my area, but i’ve been finding excuses for ages not to go.
    maybe a video on youtube will quench your curiosity?
    it’s really not as interesting as you’ve may think it is.

    • Cynthia October 29, 2009, 10:50 AM

      You are wrong Delia, the sermons are very in-depth and interesting like a college course in many cases. The sining is really good, like a concert and often coffee and donuts served. Also alot going on in a friendly community.

  • Amos Pressley December 3, 2008, 11:23 PM

    Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas boasts a membership of 19,000 on their website. Their pastor, John Hagee, has raised millions and given it to Nephesh B Nephesh and other “frum” causes that he as a goy is not supposed to even care about.

    I lead singing in a little church in Lexington, SC. We have had an IDF soldier and an orthodox Baal Torah come and speak to us.

    We live in some interesting times.

    • Cynthia October 29, 2009, 10:27 AM

      Hi Amos, I will seek out someone who is a true Jew who can teach me you have said. Yes, the Messianic movement is out there and I did attend a home-group in my area for a long time, yet wonder if the Orthodox Jews would agree or not, some apparently do. I can not read Hebrew or know the culture, so I do not know if they teach right or not, and above all, I want the correct answers, not necessarily the ones I want to hear. I have a minor in world religion and am very interested in learing the truth about the faith from its adherents. I always thought that to attend the Synagog, you had to pay a hefty membership fee, and I don’t have that kind of money. I live in a very big Bible-Belt city (Houston) and don’t know where a syngog would even be. Anway, pray for me that I find this special person who will be sent to me as a teacher – a woman like me, who is my age, and accepts me as the person I am w/o judgment. Yes it is true, John Hagee is sending tons of money to Israel – we are all being taught to cherish Israel and the Jewish people. Even if Jews thing we have a warped understanding of their scriptures, it still coomes through that Israel and the Jewish people are very important to God and that we are asked by God to protect them, scripture is clear, that the Jew is the apple of God’s eye, the favorite and most loved, and that if we bless them God will bless us, but if we curse them, God will curse us. We want to receive the “crumbs from the table” as Jesus told the Samaratain woman, because we know that with God’s great wealth, even the crumbs are diamonds, and we will get basket-fulls. But we also love the Jews and want them to be well – no more persecution for them on our watch if we can help it. We feel it is our business to protect them – we are the watchmen of these people and maybe we are the Lost 10 Tribes that scripture mentions. Who knows. I have alot of perceptions that I do not know whether they match Jewish/Orthodox teaching or not. I have no idea. But I want to know. It will take me a lifetime to learn, becauwe just memorizing the hebrew alphabet has taken me a long time…I can certainly afford a year to visit, and I will do it if I can find a friend to help me and a place to go. I’ll check back. In the mean time, to the Jews who are curious about church, no one will ever know you are Jewish there if you wear normal clothing. In fact if you attend, people will most likely presume you are already a Christian and won’t even question you. You can blend in really easy and no one will be the wiser. Yes our services are Las Vegas-y in some cases, but we love God – your God. That is the best way we can think to let Him know that.

      Yes these congregations take in booku-bucks. They are very rich. It is wise for the Jewish communities to make friends with Evangelical mega-churches – we want to know how to do Passover and Sukkot, we love to hear your teachings. Even about the messiah. Just don’t say anything against Jesus. Heck he was a Jew like you are. That is why we love him so much!

      Pray for me to find a teacher. I know God will send one.
      Cynthia 🙂

      • Amos November 4, 2018, 11:48 PM

        Cynthia, I just now found your reply from 9 years ago and was touched.

        I really think God is doing something among us Christians. More and more, there are Christians who (miraculously) are more inclined to shut our mouths and LEARN from the Nation that God appointed to keep and guard His Torah.

        I have left a link to my Facebook page. Please feel free to look me up. I am sure we both have interesting stories to share.

  • m00kie December 3, 2008, 11:25 PM

    i think youre confusing protestant with christian.
    catholics and protestants are both christians.

    and that guy from your video tells jokes for his sermon?? baptistsatire.net?

  • Michele December 3, 2008, 11:33 PM

    There are people who call themselves Christian as distinct from Protestant. They feel they are non-denominational.

  • shevers December 3, 2008, 11:35 PM

    You guys. Don’t mix up two issues. Not going into churches has nothing to do with being racist, bigoted etc. It has to do with monotheism. Monotheism. Thats that thing called believing in one G-d and stuff…..

    I remember reading/hearing about how Christianity as a religion is a move towards monotheism for non-Jews, positive for them etc. I dunno, someone clarify.

    But for a Jew its not okay. We’re not supposed to have anything to do with idolatry. And Christianity for Jews is idolatry. Sorry. It has nothing to do with hating non-Jews… its just not a place for us. We should try and cling to G-dliness….

    • Cynthia October 29, 2009, 10:44 AM

      Yes it is true – Christianity was a huge move toward monotheism for us who once were Pagans. Christianity moved up into Europe, and what were us Europeans doing in the First century and before? Why, we were polytheists, who prayed to the sun, moon, stars, myriads of gods, goddesses and ancestors. We believed in magic, rituals, and so on – think Druids… Some believe the druids are descendents of the Levites of the Lost 10 Tribes that wandered North. Remember that the Northern kingdom of Israel embraced paganism and that is why God set them into exile. So it is highly possible that the Druids are Jews who were somewhat paganized. To hear their own religion presented to them from Jews including Jesus as the image of the one God who came to earth in physical form (just as God’s spirit was on the burning bush) drew them back from whence they came. So maybe the Celts and the Hebrews are one and the same. Anyway, learning about Christianity pulled us completely away from Paganism.

      The “Trinity” – the word Trinity is not in the Bible, your half or ours. The concept of God having many facets and being able to send his spirit into a physical object or being to teach mankind is presented in the Tanak – Abraham had 3 visitors at his tent in mamre, but they spoke as though they were one being; Mosees saw God in the burning bush and heard his voice, yet Moses did not worship the physical object of the bush. The Israelites followed a pillar of fire/cloud through the desert and in it was God – yet they do not worship the cloud or fire – only God’s spirit. Just think of Jesus the same way – God’s spirit, the same spirit that was in the burning bush, the pillar of cloud/fire – this spirit is Jesus the Messiah. The Apostle Paul says that the same cleft rock that gave the israelites water in the desert was Christ the Messiah, Jesus. BTW, the word “christ” is Greek and means messiah. Also the Torah contans God’s spirit, we read and learn from God himself. Jesus was the “living Torah” in Christian understanding – suppose the Torah could becoome human…it would live perfectly according to Torah rules. This is what Christians think Jesus is – the word/Torah made flesh. God’s spirit can do anything, and go into anything to teach us.. And it has in the Abrahamic, Mosaic eras and also in the first century – same God, same spirit, different physical object used to teach us. This is why we beleive there is only ONE God, not three. Like a gemstone, there are many “facets” to the one stone – you see one facet, we get to see another. Also the New Testamement is really an “instant replay” of the “Old” – everything God did in the TNK? He did again as Jesus in the new. And yes, I looked it up in Strong’s Exhaustice Concordance – the word “Jesus” is really Joshua in Hebrew, and that’s a name directly derived from Jehovah, the Jewish name for God, and it means “salvation” – God says of himself throughout the TNK that he himself is the Salvatin of Israel. This is how we think of Jesus. The reason Jews believe we are not monotheists is because they do not understand it, and most Christians have not studied enough to explain it or understand it either. But really we are monotheists too the core. No more pagan deities for us, just the Hebrew God, and his teachings to us, including his physical manifestations to us here on earth, which are many and are in the TNK and the New Testament.

  • david December 3, 2008, 11:40 PM

    Mezmorizing. If only shul was full of jokes and abstract repentance.

  • Delia December 3, 2008, 11:42 PM

    and that’s acceptable shevers,
    but the whole spitting at churches thing could be interpreted as such

  • jzitt December 3, 2008, 11:52 PM

    Folks who are saying that Christianity is not monotheistic are simply choosing to misunderstand the concept of the trinity. It’s a single god, just presented with different aspects. While they believe that G!d chose at one point to put some of himself in a human body, it’s still the same god as before. And the Holy Spirit is pretty much the same metaphor as ruach hakodesh.

    It’s clear that it’s not the same belief system as Judaism. But it’s still monotheistic, despite what the propaganda against them might claim.

    (I have a lot of good friends who are Christians, including several clergymen, so this comes from long conversations and research. I don’t share their view, but it’s good to get information from outside the echo chamber. Now let’s see what defensive flames this catches…)

  • Anonymous December 4, 2008, 12:00 AM

    As an FYI, the video clip you play is really a bad sample. For the most part, Joel Osteen, is not a story teller and comedian who prays the sinners prayer at the end of his sermon. He is very inspiring and as in most mega-churches, he uses his pulpit to preach prosperous sermons, on how to live life to the fullest, be happy, follow what God wants.

    If you were looking to go, go to The Potters’ House. The pastor is T.D. Jakes. He is a powerful preacher and really give a message well.

    Most of the non-denomination churches, such as the one you visited in Brownsville are very wonderful places. The people really are happy to praise God and all that He does for them, in spite of how bad their circumstances may look to you. The singing is loud, and everyone talks back to the preacher, with Amens and Halelujahs. It’s quite and experience.

  • Frum Satire December 4, 2008, 12:06 AM

    Thank you for that comment about my jesus year- I just sent them an email requesting a copy of the book in return for a book review.

    Um what would happen if I went to church but got bored in the middle? Could I whip out some shnapps and herring and have a church kiddush club? Is there such a thing?

    Oh and are there churches that have someone passing around a snuff box like in some shuls?

  • shevers December 4, 2008, 12:12 AM

    WAIT, Churches do have kiddushes. Repressed memories are coming back. I used to play cello at this one Seventh Day Adventist Church (on Saturdays because thats when they have services. They also half keep Shabbos, its weird.)

    After services they would have a big meal potluck thing. AKA a Kiddush.

  • Anon December 4, 2008, 12:18 AM

    Folks that are upset with Phil,

    It’s not “backward racism” you’re upset about. It’s the Torah that outright prohibits this stuff. Although Rambam holds its outright avodah zara, Rema ultimately paskens that for a goy it’s not. Obviously still osur for a Jew to believe G-d has parts or is a human, etc.

  • JustAJew December 4, 2008, 12:39 AM

    Dude, how are the chicks in TX??

    • Cynthia October 29, 2009, 10:49 AM

      Texas Christian wome are very, very pretty and very pure and moral. You would respect them and love them. They have gorgeous souls and very pretty to look at. I know, I am one, many friends also, and my daughter. Gorgeous!

  • Ami December 4, 2008, 12:40 AM

    The large difference between regular attendants and total membership is similar. At my parents’ church there are double services on Easter because so many people come, and the sanctuary is *packed* on Christmas Eve.

    As a [Jewish] convert who was raised Protestant, I don’t see an issue with visiting a church as long as you don’t take communion, say the Lord’s Prayer or start singing “Jesus Loves Me.”

  • shevers December 4, 2008, 1:04 AM

    Jzitt – I’m not choosing to misunderstand. What anon said is true. For a non-Jew it is not avodas zorah. For a Jew it is.

  • s(b.) December 4, 2008, 1:11 AM

    Anon, spitting at churches is not nice behavior, regardless of what unkind acts have been perpetrated against Jews by churchgoers throughout history (including my ancestors who were booted from Spain during the days of the Inquisition, so I’m quite aware of all the reprehensible things that went down). That doesn’t mean it’s okay to stoop, nor does it represent Jews well to be spitting on anyone’s house of worship.

    As far as it being assur, “for a Jew to believe G-d has parts or is a human, etc.,” if (hu)man was created in G-d’s image, then it is entirely possible for G-d to have parts or to resemble a human (and then some). One man’s guy with a beard is another man’s shechinah nursing a baby. One’s mental picture(s) of G-d is(/are) deeply personal. As far as what’s assur, you can have the thought police come arrest me. If they know what I’m thinking, they know where I am. Your concept of G-d is yours, mine is mine. I still don’t think any constructive good can come from Jews spitting on anyone’s house of worship. Have a nice night.

  • Frum Satire December 4, 2008, 1:37 AM

    I think what Phil said is completely true- but our dear phill is one of those that chooses to be less politically correct then others. The torah says some not nice things dont even get me started on Amalek- but its all there.

  • Jack December 4, 2008, 1:59 AM

    Grapevine is nice.

  • Adam December 4, 2008, 3:09 AM

    You’re welcome, hope you enjoy the book if you end up reading it.

    I’ll fess up now with my own church story. Last year I went to Catholic church for a Midnight Mass Christmas Eve service. There’s this enormous cathedral on Colfax in Denver and my brother, our non-Jewish atheist friend Ben, and I thought it would be funny to have several drinks starting at ten p.m. at nearby bars and then walk to the church for the service at midnight. We get there a few minutes before it starts. The place is already packed to capacity. I guess it’s like their Kol Nidrei, l’havdil, everyone shows up no matter how bad they’ve been the whole year. The Archbishop Charles Chaput gestures toward us, the two semi-drunk Jews and goyishe atheist, along with the handful of other people in the back standing, telling us no one should be without a seat on Christmas eve and that we should join him on the stage. So that’s exactly what we did.

    I wish I could say I feel more “open minded” after the experience but all I felt was dirty. There I was sitting in the front of a Catholic church with all sorts of icons, statues and imagery, mamash avoda-zara! And this is an institution that has been a high ranking sponsor of the some of the greatest Jew hatred history has treated us to for almost 2000 years and there I was…..

    I am honestly now ashamed of myself for going, breaking halacha this way, and tried to repent for this a few months ago during the Yamim Noraim.

    There’s my own church story 🙂

  • chanief December 4, 2008, 9:26 AM

    Ouch, Phil, spitting on other houses of worship? That just doesn’t seem right to me.

    I haven’t been to many churches, and not any of the sort that you want to visit in TX, but I’ve been in a few albeit mostly for the art. The ones I’ve seen have been quite beautiful.

    St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, now *there’s* a church! The Italian service that was going on may as well been a Hebrew one for all I understood it and the singing was lovely. The obscene display of gold and marble was a little much and my companion was busy tallying how much of it was paid for by the Jews, but I have to say it was really something to see.

    It made me wonder why most of the shuls I have been in have zero ambiance, don’t people want to worship their God in beautiful surroundings? This is one area in which most Orthodox should are lacking and it’s a shame. Spend less cash on herring and cake and a little more on decor, it’s far more respectful than a good bottle of scotch after davening!!

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 9:41 AM

    Sooo Sooooorrrry I’m not politically correct enough for some of you, but I was raised with a deep hatred of our enemies. Maybe if some of you “bleeding heart liberals” lived in anywhere Europe between 800 and 1945 BC, you would agree with me. How many pogroms, blood libels and other injustices have the christians perpetrated against us in addition to major atrocities such as the inquisition and holocaust?
    All in the name of God too?

    You all have no problem condeming terrorist for killing 6 Jews in India, yet I’m the bad guy for spitting at a religion and it’s churches that slaughtered HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of Jews?

    WTF is wrong with you people?

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 9:43 AM

    1945 AD, not BC, oops…

  • Delia December 4, 2008, 10:16 AM

    shouldn’t you use BCE and CE then Phil?
    Anno Domini? he’s not my lord and i very much doubt he’s yours. or is that too PC?

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 10:24 AM

    Delia,

    You’re right about that. Guess I just got used to it.

  • Texgator December 4, 2008, 10:31 AM

    Don’t go to a Church, Hesh….just watch some of the stuff on TV and you don’t have to worry about actually being there.

    But if you do, I’ve heard the Grapevine one is Crazy.

  • suitepotato December 4, 2008, 11:13 AM

    Those big churches always seem nice because they are generally well lit and decorated much like modern house construction. Soft but bright pastels, especially yellow, and lots of white. It seems awake.

    The congregations seem fun for the same reason Aish and Chabad seem fun to the new BT, the same reason kiddushim and niggunim and so on seem fun, because they are people having fun and sharing good times together. Like an ad for an amusement park where everyone is on the water slides and the roller coasters and no one is fighting or down.

    Catholicism briefly caught on how dreary their churches can be with guitar playing nuns, but that was as far as injecting emotional lifting into services ever got. Never mind the insistence on following the architectural styles of European cathedrals which were themselves limited by the building technology of the time. So they emulated buildings which were narrow but really tall instead of let’s say Islamic mosques which can be not so tall but really wide.

  • suitepotato December 4, 2008, 11:22 AM

    As far as Phil’s sentiments go, the Christian turning the other cheek thing necessarily grow by logical deduction and personal truthfulness out of the dictum of the Golden Rule. Remember Hillel?

    If you were mean nasty and rotten, you would NOT want angry fiery vengeance visited on you. You’d beg for mercy. Therefore, do not visit fiery angry vengeance on others.

    Nevermind the intellectual gymnastics by the rabbis to explain the idea of an eye for an eye not meaning a literal taking of someone’s eye but instead compensation. Do you not think they had a tacit understanding of the difference between justice and vengeance and how little of loss of self-control of man’s baser emotional instincts can tip from one to another?

    Then there is the principle of not looking for trouble. Back to the golden rule. I would not want others who had or had not cause to dislike me to seek me out but to stay away with their intemperate outlook so as to let it weaken and dissolve. Therefore, I should not seek out those I may have taken anger to, so as to let my anger lessen and let the hate leave the world.

    Or more simplistically if it suits, the dead are dead and we cannot rewrite the past, we can only live the future. This is entirely up to oneself.

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 11:51 AM

    I’m not advocating violence or vengeance against christians. In fact, I have some good friends that are chirstians.

    That doesn’t lessen the fact that the church was behind most of the troubles Jews have faced in the past 2000 years, so don’t expect me to show any respect to it whatsoever. Many christians worldwide are still hearing that Jews are the devil along with other horrible ideas about us.
    Thousands if not millions of Jews worldwide still suffer in one way or another because of these notions today.

    Just because the late pope visited the kotel and prayed for forgivness, doesn’t erase what billions have been and are still being brainwashed with every day.

  • Ami December 4, 2008, 11:55 AM

    Phil:
    There are horrible people from every religious and political group. As many of the comments have stated, no one is trying to diminish the Inquisition or any other tragedy that has afflicted our people.

    But the horrible deeds of one’s ancestors or other members of one’s religion do not make all Christians evil people. Nor do they justify hatred. We aren’t living in Inquisition-era Spain.

    As much as I love the people whom I have chosen, I cannot deny the love I have for my blood family, regardless of what my blood ancestors might have done to my religious ancestors.

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 12:06 PM

    Again,

    I’m not questioning whether or not there are good christians, we know that many are good people.

    My beef is with the church and it’s anti semitic leaders, views and teachings over the past 2000 years, many of which are still prevalent today.

    Going back to yesteryear, when a town priest said “kill the Jews”, those “kind hearted” / “God fearing” followers had no problem killing, robbing or raping in the name of God, they actually believed this would cause them to be “saved”.

    Modern day Germany was no different. The Nazis mainly used simple townspeople from all across Europe to do their dirty work. Regular family men were given guns and whips which they had no problem using on innocent Jewish men, women and children. They were even proud of what they did to the extent that many took “trophy” pictures of their actions, much the way a hunter or fisherman today takes a picture of his proudest moment with a trophy animal. Anyone who want’s to dispute these facts should first read “Hitler’s willing excecutioners”, should give you a clearer picture of what I’m saying.

  • Q December 4, 2008, 12:46 PM

    I occasionally go to churches in NYC for classical music concerts. One I went to a Catholic church in Manhattan (I forget which one) to hear Haydn’s “Missa in Tempore Belli.” When I realized that the congregation was actually celebrating Mass, I felt seriously uncomfortable and wanted to leave, but was too embarrassed to walk out until it was over.

  • Frum Satire December 4, 2008, 12:52 PM

    Hey Adam I love you story – just don’t tell any shadchun about it.

    Phil thanks for keeping the discussion lively and bringing out all of the bleeding heart liberals- my dad would be proud.

    I thought A.D. stood for after death?

  • Frum Satire December 4, 2008, 1:01 PM

    Oh and Adam thanks for the book tip they are sending me a free copy to review

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 1:13 PM

    Hesh,

    Real funny, I though it was “after death” too! Who’d have thought it’s some silly Latin term. We Yeshiva products, can be such ingnoramuses when it comes to the secular world.

    Those “farshtunken liberals” have just about hijacked our government in a legal coup d’etat here in Canada this week, so I have less symphaty for them now than ever before.

    Not that I want to re-open the proverbial can of worms, but fact is that any Jew that has been opressed by a ruling power for being Jewish will know the truth. Ask any Sephardi that was living in North Africa or the Middle East between 1940 and 1973, 100% will tell you not to trust an arab even when he’s 6 feet under after 100 years.

  • jzitt December 4, 2008, 1:17 PM

    @Phil: When you say “the church”, which church do you mean? Catholic? One of the Protestant denominations? Eastern Orthodox? Any one of the several Asian variants?

    People who have studied the history of religion understand that the Christian churches are almost as fractured as the Jewish community. As people who read the papers know, one of the largest denominations in the US is about to schism, which will have massive impact on its community.

    As another poster pointed out, we can’t be entirely held responsible for the acts of people whose backgrounds resemble ours. If not, what are you doing to apologize and make up for the acts of some white people (assuming, as would be a good guess, I think, that you are white) in past centuries.

    Oh, and invoking “political correctness” hasn’t actually worked for about a decade now. People see past it and understand the veils of privilege, arrogance, and blindness toward other people are trying to hide. If you believe in “v’ahavta l’reyacha kamocha,” then you’ll get this.

  • Amos Pressley December 4, 2008, 1:29 PM

    As an AnaBaptist Christian, I see Phil’s reminders as valuable. No doubt if we were living in the same neighborhood in the middle ages, he and I would probably be cellmates!

    I gotta tell you, Frum, I have never been to church where the snuffbox was passed around. Herring might be welcome for some at an after-service “fellowship.” The schnapps would be frowned upon by most folks my crowd, as alcohol is associated with hedonism, not joy. You would have some “marin ayin” issues with many of them, so schnapps would distract from your main job on earth – – shining the light of Torah to the Nations.

    After you discuss the Parshah, you and I can go off and have some schnapps. No snuff, thank you. 🙂

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 1:44 PM

    jzitt,

    The Roman catholic muderers were as bad as the Greek orthodox murderers who were as bad as the Russian orthodox murderers who were as bad as the Nazis, etc. How many of these denominations tried to use force to convert and baptize Jews over the centuries?

    Do you expect me to investigate the history of each church before spitting at it, to ensure that they were or weren’t the ones that gave my ancestors the “kiss the cross or die” choice?

    Again, I’m not accusing whites, blacks or anyone in particular. There are plenty very decent and kind non jews of all religions and denominations.

    Their leadership and organiztions as a whole on the other hand, have proven track records of Jewish blood on their hands.

    Veahavta LEREACHA applies to REACHA (another Jew) not Ovdei K ochavim umazalot, nochrim, etc. Check to halachic authorities for more info.

  • Frum Satire December 4, 2008, 2:16 PM

    Amos I cant figure out if you Jewish or non-Jewish? Unless you are someone interested in converting or were a shabbos goy like Colin Powell how do you know so much?

  • shevers December 4, 2008, 2:51 PM

    And the spitting thing isn’t only a Phil thing… I’ve seen kids from my shul do it.

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 2:58 PM

    Many people I know say the pasuk from Devarim when passing churches: Shaketz teshaksenu abeid tabdenu ki cherem hu.

  • Amos Pressley December 4, 2008, 3:13 PM

    I am not Jewish. I was raised in a Baptist church, but did not become a Christian until I was in my twenties. (It’s a heart thing, you know!)

    Not long after I was “born again” and was living the life of someone connected to the Bible, I kept finding in it references to the synagogue. I didn’t know anybody Jewish here in SC, so I looked in the yellow pages. I didn’t know one synagogue from the other, so I chose the biggest and showed up on Friday night. I found that they were not as welcoming as the crowd I was accustomed to! Anyway, I persisted and people realized over time that I really wanted to learn and had no hidden agenda.

    Then the internet came along and I met a “Frum Yid” from Beer-Sheva on Virtual Jerusalem. He has been so kind and patient to teach me over the years! He has even come to SC and spoke in my church several times!

    If you do go to a church, here is my advice – – avoid the trap of ecumenism. Choose a church that loves the Book. If they love the Book, they will love you! Remember who you are. Wear your kippa and tzitzits and look for opportunities to teach while you are there. Try to talk to the pastor or someone in charge. I think you will be surprised at the opportunities that may surface.

    Shine the Light!

  • Frum Satire December 4, 2008, 3:18 PM

    Amos I really have to interest in Christianity- I just have an interest if the corporate style of mega churches- it might as well be a shul for all I care. I kind of wish it was- but its not.

    I would never wear my yarmulke into a church- tzitzis will be tucked in.

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 3:19 PM

    Amos,

    Very interesting point. I would love to know what he spoke about in a church, as a frum Jew would generally be expected to teach only Noahide laws to any non Jew.

    Would a non Noahide pastor have a problem with a frum Jew coming in to teach Noahide laws in his christian setting?

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 3:27 PM

    Got to agree with Hesh, going to a mega church is bad enough, don’t walk in as a visibly frum Jew unless you’re invited to speak in that capacity or something similar. Otherwise you run into Maris Ayin, Chillul HaShem and other potential trouble or emabarassment with the 30,000 locals.

  • Amos Pressley December 4, 2008, 3:58 PM

    My friend walked into the building with a baseball cap to avoid marin ayin, but removed it inside to show his yarmulke and reinforce to us who knew him that he is there as a Jew, and that no implication of conversion should be made.

    I should mention that our building has no steeple, no crosses or statues, etc. I should also mention that we are a rather small (about 100) group.

    He did indeed teach the Noachide laws, but he didn’t go out of his way to make a big deal about categorizing them. He spoke of repentance, Antisemitism, modern Israel, and explained some of why Jews do what they do. And of course, he dealt with the TONS of questions.

    After the service, people were asking him to sign their Bibles, a tradition we have for special speakers.

    It was very eye-opening to many, including some people who had been disconnected from their own Jewish heritage by their own family. I wish you understood the power of the Jewish presence when it is strongly tied to Torah. He was a Kiddush Hashem!

  • s(b.) December 4, 2008, 4:47 PM

    shevers // Dec 4, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    And the spitting thing isn’t only a Phil thing… I’ve seen kids from my shul do it.
    ——————————————
    Sorry to read that. How does spitting in public, in anywhere other than a spittoon or a public trash can, represent oneself well as a human being, Jewish or not? Do these kids also not cover their mouths when they cough or refrain from trying to catch their own sneezes with a sleeve or tissue/handkerchief? There’s a universal derech eretz (I mean the land itself, as well as respect for humanity), too. As for you, Phil, my dad’s parents came out of the camps (yekke and born in Poland, raised in Germany yekke, came to the U.S. via concentration camps and some miraculous bribery). My maternal grandmother’s family came from Russia (no, Bubbie, I’ll be fine driving at night; the Cossacks aren’t going to get me). My maternal Zaid’s family traces back to Monastir, Holland, then Inquisition-era Spain, and to a little town in modern-day Yemen called Haban, before that, so I’m well-aware of all the bad things people have done to my ancestors just because they were Jewish. Giving people a reason to hate us more by spitting on their houses of worship is not how I respond to those tragedies. I know some guys who rock Jabotinsky and think “For every Jew, a .22,” and things like that. I hope they have child safety locks on their guns. If anyone were to harm a loved one of mine in my sight, there’s not much I’d put past me, but [what being Jewish means to me] does not include giving those who already dislike us further reason to do so (by spitting on their places of worship). I’m well aware that your mileage varies. And Hesh, I know about Amalek, and don’t get me started about that part toward the end of the Haggadah that’s all violent and angry — selections from Hair would be so much easier, but for every light there is a dark, and for a reason, even if I don’t agree with it. Heck, even Tehillim has some pretty violent hopes going on, if you read enough. The scope of human emotion is vast. How we channel our feelings is what makes us who we are. (who who, who who)

  • Phil December 4, 2008, 7:20 PM

    Fascinating.

  • shevers December 5, 2008, 12:16 AM

    How about spitting during aleinu? huh?

  • shevers December 5, 2008, 12:17 AM

    Wait its aleinu right?

  • s(b.) December 5, 2008, 12:36 AM

    shevers,
    In the shuls I attended as a child, we bowed during aleinu at “va’anachnu korim.” Spitting of the “poo poo” type tended to be reserved for superstitious old ladies (I’m thinking of my stepmother’s grandmother, who taught her to do that, but she doesn’t spit, she just says “poo poo,” like some sort of nod to the spitting of past generations. I think the ancient spitting was a warding off the evil eye thing.

    There is actually a really neat-looking book called “Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women: Sweetening the Spirits, Healing the Sick” (University of Illinois Press) that looks totally fascinating and I hope to pick up, one of these days. It’s by Isaac Jack Lévy and Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt. If you’re into learning about that sort of stuff, you might like it.

  • Chris_B December 5, 2008, 4:23 AM

    chanief said “It made me wonder why most of the shuls I have been in have zero ambiance, don’t people want to worship their God in beautiful surroundings?”

    Far be it from me to call myself an expert, but I’m much more comfortable praying in surroundings where I’m not distracted by all the decorations.

    Frum Satire said “I thought A.D. stood for after death?”

    I thought that too, but then what about the 33 years that Jesus was alive? Anyway if you think BC/AD is nutty, the Japanese reset the calendar every time there is a new emperor. Its now “Heisei 20” (20th year of the Heisei Emperor), the era before was Showa (lasted 64 years) before that was Taiso(IIRC) and before that was Meiji. History books here will talk about the war with Russia in Meiji 38 not 1905. This system is still in use for all government and official corporate documents.

    As for mega-churches, those things first started in Dallas when I was a kid, I remember this field we used to ride dirt bikes became a church with 800 parking spaces (small by today’s standards). My mom referred to it as Our Lady of Perpetual Donations.

  • Phil December 5, 2008, 9:45 AM

    Spitting during Aleinu is a Tehillas hashem thing. We say it during “sheheym mishtachavim lehevel velarik” which isn’t in the Ashkenaz nusach. Basically we are spitting at the “nothingness” worshipped by other nations, three times a day.

    I find it hard to spit in an Ashkenaz minyan, as I would be the only one doing it, the others would probably think I’m nuts for spitting in a shul. One of the guys actually reminds me “not to flood the shul” during Aleinu every Friday night.

    Funny how I then go to my Lubavitch shul, where some guys (usually kids) make it a point to hock up a big wad as opposed to the regular “spittle”.

  • Delia December 5, 2008, 4:33 PM

    forgive me, i just find spitting distasteful and unhygenic. :[
    when situation calls i make little “ptooey” noises, but i guess i’m too much of a girl.

    Anno Domini, AD, would be short for Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi (Year of our Lord etc.), starts at the time of supposed birth.
    i’ve stopped using AD since i learned what it stood for at 13. It really doesn’t make a difference, but i refuse to measure time before and after an event that i don’t particularly rejoice in. Maybe i’m just being immature.

  • Former Teacher December 6, 2008, 9:10 PM

    A close friend of mine is a devout Catholic. She sees it as her mission in life to go to Church each week, and remind everyone to pray to G-d, not the statues.

    She says some people forget and pray to the statues.

  • Amos Pressley December 7, 2008, 1:26 AM

    “She says some people forget and pray to the statues.”

    That’s why Hashem said not to make ’em, not to bow to ’em, and not to serve ’em. In that. the Catholic institution is in disobedience to a clear command of scripture.

    Pretty simple.

  • Nameless Faceless December 7, 2008, 2:44 PM

    Having dated many good ol’ football-playing Christian Texans and therefore attending my fair share of southern megachurches, I really cannot stress to you how much you do *not* want to do this. Let me draw on my supreme breadth of knowledge about the “born-again” Christian world and explain that “serious” Christians consider megachurches to be complete and utter bs – maybe not entirely unlike the way Orthodox frummies feel about Reform Jews. Megachurches tend to be gigantic spectacles, all singing and emotion and feel-good Heaven talk peppered with cookie-cutter one-liners (usually about the wife or kids) where everyone thumbs through their own personalized Bible while nodding and smiling like they just drank all that good kool-aid on the way in, which is not in anyway what an actual church should look like if you are following the New Testament prototype.

    But hey, I mean, it’s worth a visit if you want to see for yourself – don’t forget the tsitsis and kippah, those’ll get you a lot of handshakes and proselytizing.

  • Melissa January 12, 2009, 11:18 PM

    This is an interesting conversation going on. I found this disscussion when I was doing a search on google for something completely un-related. I am not Jewish – I am Catholic. I’m not sure if my words will mean anything to you…but just wanted to give my input.

    This whole spitting thing has me a bit surprised and glad this is not a practice for everyone in this discussion. I, nor any Christian that I know, would ever think of doing this to a synagogue or even to a Mosque. But, there are crazy people out there everywhere – in all religions.

    I can assure you that most Christians like Jewish people and have nothing against their religion. Nor do we try to convert them. You cannot convert anybody…religion is in your heart and that person has to accept that into their heart.

    There are good people, and there are bad people. We like people because of who they are, not because of their religion.

    I am pretty sure that all religions teach peace and forgiveness to some extent. Therefore, I am not sure if it is right for anybody to hold hate for an entire group of people because of something that was done in the past. I know that I had nothing to do with your what your families may have went through related to the Christians. Therefore, I don’t really like it that someone can hold that against me and spit on my place of worship because of it. Luckily, I am a more open-minded person than to hate all Jews after hearing that comment, which is more than I can say for those people who spit on churches.

    You cannot hate a whole group of people for things that have happened. You will spend all your time hating and no time loving…which surely you will regret and I would assume grow tired of this. We cannot all hate all Germans or Palestinians. Again, there are good people, and there are bad people.

    I am a registered nurse and come into contact with many different religions and respect them all. You do not have to believe in order to respect.

    To clear up confusion – Christians are considered monotheistic. Also…Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all honor the same God. This is not just a Christian belief either. I like to think we just do it in different ways. Remember that when you are hating whole groups of people.

    Would also like to add that Christians are not overzealous with trying to convert people. Muslims, on the other hand, consider it to be a really good thing when they convert someone to Islam. It is considered to be a great achievement in their life.

    I hope that I have not offended anybody. This was not my intent. I have many Jewish friends and we have never had problems with eachother and have been there for eachother in births, deaths, and weddings. The same is true for my Muslim friends. I just hope to maybe have cleared any questions up and give a different perspective.

    My prayers for all the families in Israel and Palestine during this horrible time.

  • Phil January 13, 2009, 10:23 AM

    Melissa,

    “Christians are not overzealous with trying to convert people”

    What was the inquisition about?

  • Melissa January 14, 2009, 4:45 AM

    Wow…all that and that is the only think that you can come up with? Please refer back to the statement about blaming a whole group of people for something that happened so long ago. Do you see that happening today Phil? I certainly don’t care what religion people are and will befriend them regardless. I feel it rude that you would feel a certain way towards me becauswe of that.

  • Phil January 14, 2009, 8:30 AM

    Melissa,

    I borught the inquisition as an example. In every generation since the church took power,

    Jews were given choices between converting or death/expulsion.

    As I previously mentioned in my posts, I have nothing against christians, in fact I have some friends that aren’t Jewish, they happen to be great people.

    My problem is with the church, the perpetrator of 2000 years of hate, persecution, rape and murder against my people, all supposedly in the name of God. I don’t belive for one second that the church has suddenly changed into an all loving / all good institution. Don’t excpect me to show any respect or admiration for your religions hypocritical leadership, starting with the pope, an ex nazi prison guard.

  • Cynthia October 28, 2009, 4:31 PM

    Hi, I read your story and thought it was priceless! Very humerous. I’m a Born Again Evangelical Christian so I will answer your questions – yes church is full on Sundays. It really is. The way it works is that you go to the 9:30 Sunday School class – even adults, and we call that “Bible Study” – we sit and read and learn about the different parts of the Bible – sometimes we have lessons on the portions of the Bible that Jews call the TNK, and we learn over several weeks, spending time learing about one book. A good teacher will research the lesson over the week and bring in as much history and knowledge as he or she is able. Usually, there is coffee, tea, juice and breakfasty snacks served – donuts, cookies, or something like that. So the first 25 minutes of the Bible Study is spent “schmoozing” – nibbling and chit chat with friends you have not seen since last Sunday. Then they call attendence, and the class secretary makes announcements about upcoming events. After the lesson, we take down prayer requests and people can say whatever they want about their prayer needs and we all pray about it. Then off to church. You do not have to pay for a membership to go to church, and no one will ask you if you are a member, or even a Christian. We have people from all over the world come to church from every culture. Jewish people who have decided to believe in Christianity or attend because their spouse is a Christian are common but they do not stand out by a difference in dress. But you are not forbidden to dress any way you like, and it is getting somewhat more common for people to wear Hebraic style clothing if they have discovered the “Jewish Roots of their Christian Faith”. Usually however, men should wear office casual clothing – dockers or suit pants, dressy shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt and tie tucked in and belted – hair nicely combed, no hat. Women should dress conservatively and are welcome to wear slacks or a dress that comes below the knee and a blouse that reaches the collar bone and goes over the shoulder at least, but some women (especially teens and college age girls) cheat and come in with spaghetti straps, shorter skirts and sometimes flip-flops. No one really says anything, they are just glad you are there. Women also do not cover the head with a scarf, but I have seen people do it and it is no problem at all, no one minds. In big Baptist churches you will sing for a while, sometimes a good 20 – 45 minutes of the service is dedicated to the Music Ministry – and yes it can be kind of “Las Vegas-y” – the lighting the microphones, the special and sentimental songs. Then the Choir will do a couple of specials and in some churches a drama team does a skit. Then the minister will do a sermon, sometimes on one topic, sometimes a series that goes through several weeks. In some churches they also read scripture and say the Lord’s Prayer which Jesus said and which is very similar to the Kol Nidre prayers in theme. At some point the children are dismissed for “Children’s Church” so they don’t get bored – they get a snack and get to color or make a little craft while the teacher reads them a story from the Bible – they may also get to go outside and play on the play ground if the church has one. At the end of the service communion is served. This is the exact same thing the Jews do with bread and wine at the Sabbath Dinner or the Matzah and wine at Passover.
    although we do it different because no one has ever shown us how to do it Jewish style. Jesus said, “Whenever you eat this bread or drink this wine, do it to remember the Lord’s (Messiah’s) coming.” We are supposed to repent of our wrongs done that week and be very sincere. Deacons will often bring around gold-metal plates filled with little bread tid-bits, which may be normal bread that is torn into piecees, or pie-crust dough that has been cut into tiny squares – it is up to the church what kind of bread to serve, and some churches serve broken up matzah bread. Then the deacons go back to the front and pray again, this time for the wine; prayers over bread and wine are led by the minister. Then they go back and pass around gold-metal trays that are about2 inches deep and hold tiny plastic cups filled with non-alcoholic grape juice – we don’t want anyone to accidentally drink alcohol and run over someone on he way to lunch after church. After this anouncements for the week are stated – when the next potluck is, what charity to assist with, when the women will meet or the men’s breakfast, and what the topic of the Wednesday Night Bible study will be about, or if they need help in the children’s department. They also used to do an altar call, but for some reason, some churches are getting away from this, maybe they think people are shy. Any way at the end of the service, you are invited to walk to the front and by doing so declare that you believe in Jesus; You can also walk forward to ask for prayer. At the end of the service a Baptism may also be held, and the built in pool will be filled with warm fresh water. The minister will wear those chest-high fishing overall’s and over them wear a long white robe. he will stand in the pool and tell the congregation what a priviledge it is to have little Johnny come to day to the waters of baptism and Johnny’s parents will be there, beaming away with pride. The minister will assist Johnny while he descends the stairs into the pool, ask him if he believes in Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and then (having practiced before the service) take Johnny’s hand and guide it up to his face so Johnny can pinch his nose shut; The minister will balance Johnny on the back of his other hand and quickly dunk Johnny in the water all the way, and then pull him back out, saying, “Buried with Christ in Baptism, raised to Newness of life…” Johnny will then be “born again”, which basically matches up with the jewish Mikvah in meaning and theme. Everyone will clap. Someone may sing a special song at this time as well. Because people have eaten snacks in Bible Study there is no after-church snacks, but some churches do put out coffee and snacks in the exit area so people can stay and snack a bit more. Then everyone goes home or out to lunch, and some restaurants offer 10% off if you bring in your church bulleton. On Wednesday nights, churches serve dinner for around $4 and many churches cook the food now. After that, people break into groups – bible study, children’s programs, choir, men’s business meetings, etc. It is a really nice time. I suggest that you attend church for a few months and just sit back and watch the show. No one will disturb you especially if you sit in the back row. You can see everything, and nothing will happen. If you don’t want to take communion, don’t, but if you do, no one will stop you, so you can. You should try it just to see what it is. If you don’t have a bible with a new testament in it, don’t worry, they usually have them under the seat, and many churches have huge power-point screens now so you can read the hymns and scriptures w/o looking them up, so it is all very user friendly. I would advisse you to enjoy the whole experience and visit the largest Sunday School class as well. Of course they may introduce you, but if you only give your name, no one will question that you are not a Christian, they will not think of it at all – farthest thing from their mind. Just sit quietly and listen – even bring a notebook and take notes. Visit on Wednesday night as well and see what happens. Here is what you will find – just like Synagog, you will find friendly people who love God, and a culture that revolves around food, charity activities, scripture study and fun. You will realize that besides a few different teachings, church is not that different after all. Your job, of course willl be to figure out where in Judaism the teaching or ritual is, becauwse Christians do everyting based on it’s tie (or their belief thatthere is a tie) to Judaism, which Jesus taught. If you do decide to reveal that you are a Jew, it depends on what the congregation is like, but most people will love you and want to convert you imediately so that you and your knowledge base does not leave them and go elsewhere, you will be highly respected and worshipped just for being Jewish and being able to explain to us the intricate mysteries of Jesus’ teachings from a Jewish perspective. I’d go, just to know. From the Christian side, I’d like to visit a Jewish synagog, an orthodox one. I’d like to spend 6 months visiting and really absorbing it all. I wonder what it is like there. I think it would be wonderful – actually, I’d spend a while year and enjoy all the holidays they have to offer and learn as much as I could.

  • Amos Pressley October 29, 2009, 9:55 AM

    Cynthia,

    Going to an orthodox (or even a conservative or conservadox) synagogue would definitely be a good thing for you, if you are indeed going for the purpose of learning. I should clearly state that if you are not attending to humbly learn, it would be best to stay away. The Rabbi already has enough problems.

    It is not going to be easy, but pray that G-d will guide you to a Torah-strong spiritual Jew who is willing to patiently answer your questions and deal with your misconceptions. He will need to understand that you have no choice but to probe and process what you are learning from within the framework of what you already know, and you will need to understand that your intent may be misunderstood if you dwell too much on Christian themes and jargon. Eventually, your framework will expand so you can properly process what you are learning.

    Take it slow and be patient with yourself. Avoid the temptation to take a shortcut through “messy-anic” territory. There are a lot of Christians running around these days wearing kippas and tzitzits, making a good living with “anointed teachings” full of mispronounced Hebrew and misplaced concepts. They have no concept of the damage they are doing. Avoid them.

    You won’t be able to “absorb it all” in six months. The cycle of the calendar requires a year as bare minimum. There is something about the act of standing with an open siddur, listening to the prayers, trying to keep up silently in English. There is no substitute for it. His exercise will begin to allow you to experience enough to start asking good questions. If you are fortunate and your questions are answered, you may get to the point where you start to understand what is going on, even if you don’t know all the Hebrew. Your second year can then be spent “absorbing.”

    If you are used to the flashy “Las Vegas-y” idea of what dares to be called worship these days, you will have some adjustments to make. Jewish worship does not exist for the pleasure of the “audience.” It exists for the pleasure of G-d. Sometimes it is joyous and exuberant, and sometimes it is downright hard work requiring concentration and self-discipline. Either way, G-d Himself is the only legitimate Audience.

    Set yourself a calendar alarm to come back to your post here a year (or two) from now. If you have spent your time doing the deeds and seeking to understanding the multi-layered meanings behind them, I think you will look at your own words through different eyes.

  • memorial candle for death July 8, 2013, 5:46 PM

    Second Baptist is the second-largest “megachurch” in the U.S and its beautiful. White and yellow stage lights hit the rising smoke before the performance cools down for the opening prayer. It was an amazing moment, cant put into words….!!

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