My mom often says that I must go to synagogue simply because I must show respect for the family. They say they want the family to be there as a whole (Parents + Sister + Me). How should I counter this?
my feeling is, if it matters to your mom, let that be your motivation. Maybe you can agree to go once or twice a month or something. I don't think its wrong or being untrue to yourself to go for your mom. She believes in it, you don't, everyone gets it. So do this for her out of respect and gratitude until you are 18. Then let it go. It will keep the peace and make Mom happy.
My parents are NOT NEARLY religious enough to go along with that train of thought. My dad says he is a pantheist, and my mom "isn't sure". However, my mom is still obsessed with the Jewish heritage she grew up with (she used to want to be orthodox, and doesn't eat pork) and my dad is a follower.
She could care less about what a potentially extant (in her view) "God" might think about my being at services. She's more concerned about me passing down our heritage, which I probably want to do, but in the most totally secular way possible. As was previously mentioned, she's also far more concerned about "family togetherness".
So, thanks for the shot, but that's not going to work :/
I guess it's kinda like a Christian service, but then again, I've never been to one of those...
Let's run through your average reform Friday night Shabbat service.
-Open prayerbook, usually the size of a large novel
-Pray for a while...this usually involves running through the designated section of the prayerbook (backwards...jewish/hebrew books turn pages in the opposite direction from american books), saying traditional, standard hebrew prayers as well as not-really-traditional english translations or interpretations of the prayers which usually vary from prayerbook to prayerbook. Music is very big part of prayer, as many of the prayers are chanted (kind of like singing a capella, except instead of singing, it's more like jumping from note to note quasirandomly...many chants are standardized, and passages derived from the Torah use chants that are found in the Torah) or sung with or without accompaniment from a piano or klezmer band.
-Torah service time! Torah removed from the fancy arc, prayers, Torah is read from (chanting, in hebrew), more prayers, Torah is returned to the arc. Somewhere in that process, the Torah is marched around the service room (with singing)...when it passes by you, it is common practice to touch it with your prayerbook and then kiss the prayerbook.
-Rabbi gives a speech in English ('cause no one actually understands any hebrew). Common themes are politics (very liberal in every way possible), mitzvot (good deeds), jewishness in general, whatever.
-More praying in hebrew and english.
-After the general congregation-related announcements, the service is over. People wish each other a "Shabbat Shalom" (peaceful sabbath), and family members kiss each other on the cheeks.
-The service is usually followed by an oneg, or an array or food. In the morning, it's bagels. :) In the night, it's cake, pastries, cheese cubes, fruit, and sometimes punch.
I'm having a mean idea... Is there any way for you to embarass yourself or to annoy the event holders with lets say too many questions on biblical contradictions that would make you NOT wanted during these meetings? Hm... though I hear Jews question/debate the Bible a lot anyway... so I'm not sure how this would work...