Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Jewish Experience So Far... [Pt. 2]

In my last post I talked a little about all the subjects from our cultural literacy lecture without actually pointing out what each thing was. In this post, I am going to specifically talk about each of the five areas (nomos, mythos, ethnos, archon, and techne) and a little about my experience yesterday on the Passover Sabbath.

The first two pictures that I want to show are some that I talked about in my last blog that show the inside of the temple a little better. Sorry that these aren't the best pictures, but I actually waited until the service was over and there were not that many people there to take them, and I took them on my cell phone so it would not be very conspicuous, and I still was talked to by a member of the congregation about being disrespectful. But I got them anyway so I might as well share them lol.

This is the side of the temple that is just stained glass windows. It is not special or symbolic in anyway (that I know of) to the temple, but it looks pretty and lets the morning sun in, which is I guess why they put it there lol.

This picture shows better what I was trying to talk about with the area behind the pulpit where they keep the Torahs. They called it the ark. (In my last post I referred to it as the Holy of Holies which is where they kept the Ark of the Covenant in Biblical times which contained the holy scriptures so that is kinda the history of that lol.)

This photo is actually a good place to start our conversation about cultural literacy, because it hit on four of the five areas: nomos, mythos, ethnos, and archon. The nomos is important in this because of what it means. To the Jewish people, the Ark of Covenant was a symbol of God's agreement with them and selection of them to be a chosen people. The Covenant, or God's Torah, was kept in the Ark at all times to remind the Jewish people of their agreement. So, in this way, they keep the mythos and nomos of their religion and people alive by having an ancient concept/practice still in place today.

This is a concept that you see in a lot of Jewish culture (keeping alive ancient traditions) because they are a people very concerned with mythos and what that means to them as a people group and as their identity. Every Saturday (when they go to service) there is time devoted to telling the story of their people and specifically remembering their escape from slavery in Egypt. There was extra emphasis on that particular yesterday as we are currently in the middle of Passover, the week-long festival where they celebrate their escape from Egypt. This is a very important time for them because it symbolizes when God remembered/came through on basically "his part" of the Covenant and freed them from oppression.

We have talked some about the nomos and mythos, so let's move on to archon and techne now. Just like mythos is a very important part of Jewish culture, the archon and techne are an important part of telling that and of showing that the Jewish people are a specific ethnos.

In my last post I had a few pictures of people in kippahs and prayer shawls (which are called tallit pronounced taleth). These are two things which all Jewish men (and in the reform and conservative traditions women also) wear during service, and while praying to God.

This is a picture of some of the tallits that they keep in the Temple for people to use and then return after the service.

These are a symbolic of humility before God (as you are to cover yourself when praying) but often they are also a great example of the techne of the Jewish culture. (When I say that I mean both tallits and the kippahs.) The shawls that are in the picture are just plain, but I have seen some very decorated/elaborate ones which are simply works of art. These serve as a way not only to provide the symbolic element of their role in Jewish culture, but also show the artmanship and creativity of people and uniqueness (as these things are presented at one's bar/bat mitzvah and are usually made by family members to be special for the individual receiving them.

Together, all of these things (as well as many more) make up the Jewish ethnos, which is a very proud and historic ethnos. It really has been awesome learning about this culture this semester, and I plan to continue to study, learn, and be a part of Jewish culture throughout the summer.

That is it for this post, with my next post I will be back on track with completing the assignments for weeks 9 and 10. Look for those early this week! (Tuesday afternoonish)

Hope that you enjoyed!


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