Confirmation at Temple Beth Hillel
At Temple Beth Hillel, Confirmation is viewed as a concentrated program of study and experience which prepares our young people to formulate an adult approach to Judaism, to the Jewish community and to the application of Jewish values to the difficult challenges of the adult world. We find that the conceptual framework for this understanding in the Hebrew term for Confirmation ‑‑ KABBALAT TORAH, or, “acceptance of the Torah”. The goal of this program is to enable the students to incorporate Torah ‑‑Jewish teachings in the broadest sense ‑‑ into their adult lives and into their decision making process. This ideal is further re‑enforced by the symbolism and significance of Shavuot, the festival which commemorates the giving of Torah at Mt.Sinai, and the time at which Confirmation is celebrated.
A Jewish education at Temple Beth Hillel which does not extend through Confirmation must be viewed as incomplete.
The overall theme of the Confirmation year is “What I know about being Jewish…and taking it on the Road”, a course in living life as a Jew in the “real world”.
Students will be motivated to synthesize all that they have learned in former years at TBH including lessons from Jewish history, the meanings they have derived from prayers, acting on one’s understanding of Israel, and how to proceed with their own ongoing development of Jewish identity and faith. Students will discover what it takes to maintain their Jewish heritage in a secular world. The culmination of formal learning at TBH will fall during the last weeks of the school year as the class prepares for Confirmation. Each student will choose a theme for a Confirmation presentation/speech.
Confirmation is a very special year in the life of a religious student. For most students, it marks the last year of formal Jewish education. Ideally, it also marks the beginning of a lifetime of Jewish learning and of a commitment within the Jewish community.
Both the Confirmand and his/her family may not know exactly what to expect of this unique year. Many questions arise, such as: What will be studied? How is the school year different from all others? What is expected of each student? Is there a ritual/service ceremony in honor of the completion of religious school? Is there a special celebration? What is expected of me and my family?
We have prepared this guide in an effort to answer these and other questions. We hope it will be helpful to you. If you should have additional questions, please contact the school office.
Confirmation is an important milestone in our students’ journey through lifelong Jewish education. Through study and service, our students “confirm” their commitment to Judaism and to Jewish life. While considered to be spiritual adults by age 13, it is felt that they are better prepared at age 15 or 16 to make the kind of emotional and intellectual commitment to Judaism that Confirmation implies.
The service of Confirmation is associated with the festival of Shavuot, which celebrates the people of Israel receiving the Torah from God at Mt. Sinai and their consciously and deliberately accepting and confirming the covenant as experessed in the Torah. The service emphasizes the link between each student and his/her Jewish heritage, family and congregation, as expressed through commitment to the timeless Jewish values and traditions taught in Torah.
Confirmation is a group event. Students study together, work on a group tzedekah project together, and are confirmed together, emphasizing the importance of communal belonging and action that is at the heart of Judaism.
At the completion of their confirmation year (10th grade), all our children are encouraged to continue their education at Temple Beth Hillel through 12th grade graduation.
Grade 10 meets once a week in the evening with the Clergy. Many areas of study addressing issues and questions of importance to our teens are covered during the three years leading to Confirmation (grades 8, 9 and 10). Through such courses as life cycle, theology, the history of the Jewish people and the prayer book, comparative religion and comparative Judaism, students are encouraged to learn and question as they grow into young adults.
In order to be eligible to participate in the Confirmation ceremony, a student must have successfully completed Grades 8, 9, and 10 in TBHigh. If a student was not able attend 9th grade, s/he is encouraged to return for the year leading to confirmation (grade 10) and beyond.
Confirmands will have the opportunity to participate in many activities including special events such as retreats, trips, class dinners and synagogue community service projects, etc.
The entire staff recognizes the significant amount of homework and the non-academic commitments our high school students have. We will work with students to enable them to participate in our Confimration program while meeting their outside obligations and responsbilities. Students should discuss their individual needs with the Rabbi, Cantor/Director of Education.
The TBHigh program is designed to help our students gain new perspectives of themselves and others. This is the age at which teens are seeking individuality and starting to make personal choices about essential issues. Through a variety of approaches, our teens have an opportunity to grow as Jews and to view Judaism as a continuous resource to them.
During the three years leading to Confirmation, students enage in a comprehensive program of classroom study, group activities, experiential learning, and creative activities. They have the opporunity to examine the classical texts of Jewish tradition and the basic teachings of Judaism at a depth greater than was possible at an earlier stage in their Jewish education. The history and contemporary issues which influence Jewish life today are discussed and analyzed. In addition, students address the personal and social concerns which they face as young Jews, entering adulthood, getting ready to leave home and experience true independence.
The primary goals of Confirmation studies are:
- to enable our students to acquire a deeper understanding of Judaism and their Jewish heritage
- to examine critical issues in light of Jewish teachings
- to begin the process of building a strong Jewish identity that will serve their adult spiritual and intellectual needs, and prepare them to be committeed Jews and active participants in the Jewish community.
Any Temple Beth Hillel Religious School student who has successfully completed his/her education through Grade 9 may enroll in the l0th grade Confirmation class. Upon satisfactory completion of the l0th grade Confirmation program, the student becomes eligible to participate in the Confirmation service and to become a Confirmand.
If a student has missed either 8th or 9th grade, he or she may petition the Religious School Committee for reinstatement. Questions concerning eligibility should be directed to the Rabbi, Cantor/Director of Education and the Religious School Committee.
Families of Confirmands must be current in their financial obligations prior to the Confirmation Service. Any questions should be directed to the Financial Secretary.
Confirmands participate in a unique and special learning program. They work closely with the Rabbi, Cantor/Director of Education in a unique curriculum presentation that strives to build a feeling of community among the students through the interaction of the program and its informal approach to education. Issues relate to the students, both as teenagers and as Jews. Emphasis is placed on individual commitment to take part in discussions and complete work assignments including homework. In order for the program to be meaningful and rewarding, certain criteria and standards have been set.
ATTENDANCE at and participation in all classes and activities, including special projects, class dinners, Temple/Community programs are required.
Everyone is required to attend at least 80 percent of the classes of the calendar year. At the discretion of the faculty, some absences may require make-up assignments. Confirmation meets Tuesday evening from 7-9 p.m.
The readings, writings and discussions that take place within each two-hour session are critical to the entire process. While most sessions are self contained, each session builds on previous classes. Therefore, absences will require make?up work so the student can keep up with the class and curriculum. Frequent (more than 3) or regular absences for any reason, may require special assignments.
After the Confirmation dinner, we gather in the Sanctuary for a special ceremony in which parents are invited to physically pass the Torah scroll to their children. We call this ceremony Kabbalat Torah, literally “receiving the Torah.” By physically passing the Torah scroll from one generation to the next, we confirm our commitment to children in every generation. This ritual echoes the Jewish People’s experience of receiving the Torah at Sinai, which is during the holiday of Shavuot.
The CONFIRMATION SERVICE offers each student the opportunity to develop and present individual creative ideas and to participate in leading the congregation’s worship. The service is always held at the time of Shavuot.
Attendance at the closing five (5) weeks of confirmation is required for all students. These classes are devoted to the preparation of the service by the students and staff.
Several rehearsals are held in the spring prior to the service, during Tuesday night’s scheduled Confirmation classes. All students are required to attend all rehearsals, especially the final rehearsal.
Students are expected to dress appropriately for leading the service: Boys: Suit or Jacket and Tie, Dress Slacks and Shoes- No Sneakers
Girls: Comfortably fitting dresses with shoulders covered, appropriate hemlines (not too short), are required for standing on the bima. No pants or miniskirts are permitted.
The Confirmation experience is an important and memorable one. Confirmands will want to share ideas with and get feedback on issues from their families. At various times during the year, parents will be invited to take part in special activities or classes. Family education has become a very important component of the Confirmation year.
In addition to these opportunities for enrichment together, there will be times and places where families can offer support separate from their children. Various Confirmation activities must be organized, such as the family dinner, service and Oneg, etc. There is NO CHARGE for this Educational opportunity. Financial support is requested to cover the cost of flowers, gifts, the Oneg, invitations and the family dinner.