Over the weekend, we traveled to Omaha, Nebraska after our stay in Joplin. It was really great to live in an Orthodox community and shul and to attend such practices that are so different from mine. Homestaying is a completely new experience for me. Living in a house with people I don’t know but am linked to through Judaism is a great social tactic not many people get to really experience. I learned to be more hospitable around the host. I also learned to speak to them with the utmost respect, keeping in mind they were probably asking themselves why they let such weird people into their house.
The services were really different than the Reform ones I’m used to, with singing and guitars rather than someone reading the torah and a prayer book and having the congregation respond by common knowledge. I am normally used to sitting through long sermons from my Rabbi about the week’s Torah portion and how it relates to the world around us, having us laugh here and there. To be honest, I was kind of afraid to laugh during the Orthodox service. I have never really been that religious, only going to services on the High Holidays and attending Hebrew School until the age of 13, so such a religious shul was a completely different transition.
On Friday night, after services, the Orthodox family one group of girls stayed with hosted a dinner for the nine girls in the group. The family was lovely, they had two children (we were all over them all night), and the dinner was fabulous.
Overall the experience was great. Being exposed to different customs and branches of my religion really opened my eyes. Who knows, maybe I’ll practice Shabbat when I get home.