Our first stop was to the Orthodox service at Garnethill Synagogue. This wasn't my first trip to a synagogue. I grew up with many friends that were Jewish and I went to a handful of bar and bat mitzvaths. In the United States I had visited Reform and a Conservative Synagogues and witnessed both a reform and conservative service, but I had never visited or witnessed an Orthodox service before. I had to wear a head covering before I entered the service and I was instructed to sit on the right side of the synagogue with the other women. It is tradition that women and men sit separately at an Orthodox service.
The service was mostly sung and in Hebrew. It was lovely to hear the chanting and singing. There was some English spoken during the service, which was helpful to understand what was happening. The atmosphere was very calm and relaxed. I also saw many of the men smiling at times while they were singing, which made me feel welcomed. It was interesting to see only men singing, and speaking as well as reading from the Torah. Women are not allowed to participate in the service, due to tradition, which in my view is very similar to the Catholic tradition.
After the service we celebrated Kiddush which is a prayer gathering after service in which you break bread together and drink a bit of wine (or tea or coffee). It was a wonderful moment to talk with people and hear about their service. I was invited back to attend in the future, which I will do.
After the Synagogue we took a long walk to the Central Gurdwara Singh Sabha, which is the local Glasgow temple (Gurdwara) for the Sikh religion. I was amazed at how large the temple was from outside and inside. It was truly breathtaking. I had never seen a Gurdwara or been to one before, so I was really excited to be welcomed into the temple. After we entered the meeting place downstairs from the temple, we were taken to the next floor to remove our shoes and wash our hands before entering the kitchen area. It is a tradition to have a meal (vegetarian) in the Langar (Sikh community kitchen) when you enter the Gurdwara. Meals are always free and everyone is always welcome to come and have a meal. It was a lovely meal and most of our group, including myself, ate on the floor as per tradition.
After our meal we went up to the third floor where the temple itself was. We were told the history of Sikhism and the general religion practices as well as customs before entering the temple. After hearing all about Sikhism we entered the temple as a group. The inside of the temple was gorgeous and had a large blue carpet and a golden sparkling Palki Sahib. The Palki Sahib is the name of the structure that the guru (teacher) sits under and recites the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Scriptures). I had never seen or heard or witnessed anything like what I saw and heard before. After walking around the temple, we sat for a couple minutes of silence to take in what we had witnessed. After leaving the temple we walked over to a man sitting in a chair next to a table with two bowls. We were told to walk over to him and hold out both of our hands to receive Karah Parshad (the sacred offering pudding). The pudding was very sweet and very sticky. We then went downstairs to reclaim our shoes and wash our hands before heading home.
It was a wonderful day getting to learn about and experience different faith services. Another eventful week as an interfaith intern!