Monday, March 02, 2009

Doin' the Soulja Boy

"Kevin Mulligan of Arbutus, Md., dances with Lin Orrin (left) and Marla Weiner (right) to Messianic Jewish music at B'nai Avraham Messianic Congregation, Friday night. The congregation holds this form of Messianic dancing each third Friday each month."

Journalism is a wonderful thing. What else would allow one the opportunity to see spectacular things, meet new people and enter into a world they never knew existed.

Everyday I meet some new and interesting people, and last week was no different. I was assigned to hangout and shoot a group of Messianic Jewish folk who practice a special form of dancing every month.

Now, I had never heard of the Messianic Jewish religion before last week. I must admit that while I attended church as a child and made my Holy Communion in middle school, that my history and knowledge about other religions is very slim. So I had to do some homework.

What I did know was the small community paper I was stringing for was in a very Jewish area. The neighboring area, Pikesville, has one of the largest Hassidic populations per capita on the East Coast. In short, a ton of Jewish people, Hassidic, conservative, reform, etc., live there and around the way.

So doing what I do, I looked up what they practiced and found out that it seemed like a spin off of Judaism and Christianity. They believe in Jesus as their savior, yet, that he has yet to come. Which in turn, is sort of, kind of like Judaism, other than they believe that Jesus is not their savior. Correct?

Anyways, my assignment was straight forward. I had to make a couple frames of this group practicing a very spiritual, free flowing form of dance.

Knowing pretty much nothing about how these group of people engaged in religious, spiritual ceremony and activity, I approached it with an open mind.

Although the light was near non-existent and their movement of dance was fast at times, I got a sense of what they were about and what they believed in. They danced the night away in this tiny apartment-like-complex and prayed, chanted, spun, and clapped as they danced around the room for a little over an hour.

They were very nice and didn't once try to convert, change me, unlike other religious assignments I've had in the past.

In contrast, during my time there and afterward speaking with others, I quickly found out the controversial reputation others held against them.

Regardless of others preconceived notions about Messianic Judaism, Judaism or religion in general, I learned some things from this fine folks, but obviously others held different opinions.

From what I gathered, some say that it's not a real religion. They said it was a way to convert those practicing Judaism to Christianity without "making them feel like" they're really becoming Christians.

Summing others thoughts, they spoke about it as not being a blend of religions or mixing of faiths, but being a mask for what is really evangelic Christianity.

Beats me, and as I said before, my history with religion isn't broad enough to get into a sensitive topic discussion such as this.

However, this topic is now typed into my Blackberry as a future multimedia story I could work on that could not only educate others about this religion, but how others view it.

Alas, if you missed the headline reference joke, head on over here and learn the steps.


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