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Home July 2012 Reflections on Confirmation

Reflections on Confirmation

I write frequently about events in the lives of our children.  While I try to address issues that appeal to a wide variety of family occurrences, naturally my fallback is what I know and what happens within our family.  I hope that you have been able to relate our experiences to your own life.
This month I want to share about Confirmation.  Until I recently attended our oldest child’s Confirmation service at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot, I must admit that I hadn’t been to one since my own, many years ago, and didn’t really even know what it meant.  Harrison attended Confirmation class this entire past year at temple, along with most of his temple friends in his grade, because it’s the natural progression of religious school training.  We didn’t really think about its importance and significance… until the service last month.
I was so impressed by this service that I urge everyone to keep your children in religious school and participate in a Confirmation class and service.  Although our children’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah services were the most meaningful Jewish events in their lives to date, the Confirmation service was a close second.  In some ways, it was even more significant, because the kids are older and more mature and were more fully able to embrace the true meaning of being confirmed.
“Confirmation,” a tradition started by the Reform movement more than 200 years ago, means to engage in a public affirmation of one’s commitment to being Jewish. While being a Confirmand is similar to becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, where a young Jewish person is becoming a recognized Jewish adult for the first time, learning about his or her Jewish heritage, religious obligations and community’s expectations, it is different in many respects.  Most notable is the fact that students are confirmed as a group, enabling them to share with each other as well as the congregation.  Moreover, while the Bar and Bat Mitzvah year is largely dedicated to learning how to read from and understand the Torah and lead a congregation in prayer and worship, the Confirmation year is spent allowing the students to engage in dialog with the synagogue clergy and each other, maturely discussing intense topics such as anti-Semitism and the Jewish perspectives on various issues.
Their year of study culminated in a beautiful and uplifting service, completely student written and led.  They spoke eloquently and impressively about “The Grey Zone” and Relativism, the middle ground between what is right and what is wrong.  Each Confirmand was personally blessed, by one of our two rabbis, taking a few moments to talk privately with each of them to provide parting words of wisdom as they go on their journey to Jewish adulthood.  Prayers, Torah, music, presentations and food rounded out this special evening!
We chose to continue our children’s religious education through 12th grade without realizing the wonderful things that were to come.  We are so glad we did, and I encourage you to do the same.

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