Sharing Religious Culture; Judaism
On June 30th of this year, the third online Sharing Religious Culture (SRC) event was held by HWPL’s Northern Seoul Branch. This SRC event focused on the religion of Judaism, in order to learn and experience the unique and similar aspects of Jewish culture with audience coming from Poland, Lithuania, France and the U.S.A.
Judaism is the oldest of the Abrahamic religions, and has impacted other religions and cultures of different nations. With such a rich history and culture, there are still many misunderstandings that people have about the Jewish religion and its culture. Through the online SRC, people from different countries were able to interact, learn, and ask their questions to better understand the colorful tapestry that is Jewish culture. With Rabbis and leaders of different Jewish communities, this SRC could better understand the various festivals and holidays that are celebrated in Judaism.
Sharing Religious Culture; Judaism
Sharing Religious Culture; Judaism began with a simple game to test the audience’s knowledge of what they knew or thought they knew about different holidays or cultural practices that the Jewish community partakes in. Afterwards and following the moderator’s introduction, Rabbi David Basok, from the Jewish Community school of Estonia, explained the overall view of the Jewish calendar. According to the Rabbi’s explanation, the calendar is quite different to the lunar or solar calendar many people around the world use today. Although different, it is important to know not only for Jews to keep festivals but also to know which Verses from the Holy Torah will be read on Shabbat every week. Following Rabbi David Basok, audiences eagerly asked questions regarding the different yearly schedules. Although Rabbi David Basok covered the overview of festivals and holidays for the whole Jewish year, there was little time for him to go into detail.
As such, Rabbi Misha Kapustin from the Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia, went into detail explaining Purim. Purim is a holiday that celebrates the events that took place in the 5th century as recorded in the Book of Esther. Rabbi Kapustin explained the story of Esther as it is recorded in the history, which is also done to celebrate. He also explained the special foods and how most Jewish communities come together to celebrate the survival of the Jews, thanks to the efforts of a Jewish woman named Esther.
The event continued with Rabbi Joel Finkelstein from the Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Synagogue in Atlanta, USA. As one of the most important days of the week, Rabbi Finkelstein presented the values and meaning behind Shabbat. The holy day of the week started in early Jewish history as God marked it as holy day of rest. Jews who regularly practice and keep Shabbat must prepare in advance as the house must be cleaned and ready before the day of. Shabbat begins Friday at sunset and concludes Sunday at sunrise, and during this time there can be no work done, which includes cooking, using electronics, or chores. Although there are many restrictions, Shabbat is a time where Jewish families go to the synagogue, praise God, and spend time with family. After Rabbi presented, there were so many questions on the dos and don’ts of Shabbat as there could be many difficulties in modern times.
Concluding the presentations was Rabbi Yossi Lew who explained the Three Pilgrimage Festivals. Although Rabbi Lew was attending from Peach Tree City Synagogue in Georgia USA, he was enthusiastic explaining the three festivals which include Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot. These festivals, Rabbi Lew explained, are the most important festivals, and although they are still celebrated today, they have changed after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The festivals were a time when Jews from all over Israel and beyond would travel from their homes to the city of Jerusalem to gather at the Temple to offer worship and sacrifices. Rabbi Lew went over how they have changed and how they are currently celebrated today all over the world.
After all the presentations, there were many from the audience who wanted to share what they learned, as well as ask additional questions. Those in participation weren’t just youth, but also included other religious leaders from Islam and Christianity. “After learning and seeing the similarities between those of the Abrahamic faith come together and show support for each other despite differences was very encouraging for the work of peace,” said one participant. The event concluded with a desire to keep communication and dialogue open for those different religions.
SRC is an event that focuses on sharing the culture of one particular religious community. As HWPL is focused on bringing people from all different backgrounds, countries, and religions, it is important to understand one another and ask questions to understand each other. The best way is through learning each other’s culture.