Celebrating the Bounty of our Young People By Rabbi Judy Chessin

The Reform Jewish ceremony of Confirmation has evolved over its brief time-span. Its origins go back to the late 1800’s when the founders of the reform movement introduced a number of radical changes to Jewish practice. One concern was that 13, the age of Bar/t Mitzvah, was deemed too young for a child to affirm adult commitment to Judaism. Thus a graduation ceremony was created at the end of formal religious Jewish training at around age 16 to take the place of B’nai Mitzvah. Since Confirmation was held at the end of the academic year, the ceremony became associated with the late spring holidayof Shavuot commemorating the giving of Torah to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai.

As I have indicated in this column before, that once sacrosanct ceremony has lost much of its relevance. After all, Temple Beth Or students don’t end their formal Jewish education at the age of 16 in the 10th grade. Some of our most vibrant, active and thoughtful educational programming takes place in the 11th and 12th grades, when our students take trips, study topics of political and social relevance and learn to think as Jewish adults as they prepare to leave hearth and home. Neither do many of our teens find their Jewish expression best translated into Jewish liturgy, but prefer to celebrate their formal Jewish studies with capstone projects and programs of Tikkun Olam, spirituality or Jewish peoplehood.

Ironically enough, we were unable to have our outdoor Confirmation event this past June near Shavuot due to the weather.Thus we are celebrating our 5778 Confirmation Class not on Shavuot, but rather on Sukkot.

Our first day of MAKOR is also Erev Sukkot, the holiday which marks the ingathering of our fall harvest in an outdoor booth. How meaningful to recognize our bounty of Jewish teen learners and leaders in our Congregational Sukkah!  Soon enough these teens will be leaving our homes and hearths and we pray that we have given them a sturdy enough structure to sustain, nourish and protect their Jewish adulthood.

Additionally, we have a special treat. A 20-year old time capsule prepared by Temple Beth Or’s Consecration class of 1998 will be revealed to, and by, our Confirmands of 2018. What thoughts, dreams, and hopes did our youngest students two decades ago immortalize for today’s youth?  Come to Temple Beth Or’s Sukkah, September 23, at noon to find out.  

We will have a school-wide Tikkun Olam project from 11am-12pm for all school families.Then at noon all are invited for our Confirmation/time capsule reveal and a cook- out for the entire congregational family immediately following.

This Confirmation event is a far cry from the white robed floral offerings in the ark of yesteryear, but it will surely evoke all of the enthusiasm, love of learning and youthful dynamism apparent in the teens at Temple Beth Or!  Come celebrate with Victor De La Cruz, Maddy Gruenberg, Benjamin Guadalupe, Joel Kaplan Charlotte Neiberding, Elie Simpson, Natalie Taylor – our Jewish future!

Shalom, Rabbi Judy Chessin