October 5, 2009

Church Experiment #40: Isaac M. Wise Temple

My previous experiences with Judaism have been limited. Mostly, one of my best friends from high school converted when he went to college, and I was the best man at his Jewish wedding (which was quite lovely, by the way) in 2003.

Isaac M. Wise Temple (www.wisetemple.org) is a Reform Jewish Temple. I had no idea what that meant, so I offer this explanation from www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org:

We Reform Jews are heirs to a vast body of beliefs and practices embodied in TORAH and the other Jewish sacred writings. We differ from more ritually observant Jews because we recognize that our sacred heritage has evolved and adapted over the centuries and that it must continue to do so. And we also recognize that if Judaism were not capable of evolution, of REFORM, it could not survive.

Based on that explanation and what I witnessed firsthand, I’m assuming Reform Temples are equivalent to nondenominational Christian churches. More relaxed, less ritualistic, but still holding to the same core beliefs.

If Reform Temples are less ritualistic than other Jewish Temples, I’m not sure I could handle the more conservative option. The service lasted about an hour, and almost the entire sixty minutes was filled with rituals.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.