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Visit to Jewish Orthodox Community, Antwerp

Lived religion: Visit to Jewish Orthodox Community, Antwerp (7th December 2018):
A personal reflection.
I had a delightful experience of meeting my long-forgotten brethren in the Jewish community in
Antwerp in whom my Christian religious experience is rooted. It was an awesome experience to
meet an indigenous community in this postmodern secular society. I was quite surprised and
enthusiastic the way they kept their religious life based on Torah. I felt that they kept their
fidelity to their religion in their daily life and spiritual life. What I specially observed in them is
their strict observance of sabbath and liturgical practices, especially reading of the scripture. I
was really surprised that there are many Jews who have by hearted the whole scripture and make
scripture as a solution to all their questions of life. The sharing of family meal and its rituals
were meaningful and cherishing. And it was a time for mutual interaction and reciprocal
enrichment. Their unity is expressed the way they maintained their dress code attracts the public
with different emotions. The importance they give to sabbath day was really eye opening for me.
It was also notable that amidst of these religious observances they involve in all the aspects of a
But there are also so many instances of manipulation of this religious orthodoxy for their
temporal satisfaction. For example, using the elevator for avoiding work, using special automatic
power switch to lit the light were suspicious and manipulating religiosity. What was shocking for
me was their extra ordinary care given to their children to sustain them in their own religious
tradition and the new tendency of non-practicing Jews to follow modern secularistic approach.
There is wide gap in the responsibilities of Jewish men and women. It is a fact that Jewish
women determine the atmosphere of the family. But I think the orthodox Judaism considers
women still as lower-class people. However, it seems that the women are contented with their
commitment to the entrusted and expected family responsibilities. I felt that the husband and
wife have to sacrifice a lot to keep their mutual relationship stronger amidst the strict
observances of laws and regulations of Torah.
Although, the Jewish communities made lots of interest in me their commitment to tradition and
Torah was quite challenging. What I learned from them is their adaptation to the social norms
and upholding of individual freedom amidst the strict observance of laws and regulations.
After visiting them the question came into my mind is that Do Jewish religion curtail freedom
and rights of an individual through these strict orthodox practices?