While Confirmation is a celebration of a childhood of Jewish education, it is, at the same time, the greatest chapter of the student’s Jewish education in that it is the chapter that seals the deal, so to speak, on the student’s Jewish Identity. Our confirmation process involves an education segment, which culminates in a group trip to New York City. Check out the photo gallery.
Our young people develop deep relationships with our Rabbi, Hazzan and one another as they learn, engage, and celebrate Jewish living. Confirmation is open to teens in their sophomore year of high school that attend either the Polsky Religious School or the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.
The confirmation class meets every Sunday during the school year with Rabbi Glickman for one hour. The students help the Rabbi to shape the class curriculum by voting on the topics they will study. They elect several issues about which they want to learn what our texts and our leaders, Rabbinic and otherwise, over the centuries have written about those issues. Rabbi Glickman leads them on an exploration of these texts and helps the students to uncover how they feel and think about these issues. Classes are discussion-oriented, with some small-group work sometimes. Topics covered in the past have included intimate relationships, birth control, abortion, euthanasia, Jewish views on guns and gun control, Israeli government and the election system in Israel, Jewish views on environmentalism, politics in America, America’s Jew’s relationship with Israel, the death penalty and more. Through these classes, students get to know themselves and each other better, and form a relationship with their Rabbi.
The confirmation trip, usually 4 days over the winter vacation, takes our students to New York City, arguably one of the easiest places to be Jewish in America. The students help to shape this trip, too, sharing with Hazzan Ben-Yehuda what they would really like to see and do. The class typically takes in a Broadway show, visits several museums where we see both exhibits of Jewish interest and secular exhibits. We typically celebrate Shabbat in New York, participating in services that are quite different from our own Beth Shalom services. Students often reflect that the Shabbat services we attend are the high point of our trip, in fact! We visit the World Trade Center museum and memorial. We typically visit the Tenement Museum combined with a walking tour of the Lower East Side, learning about the early days of Eastern European Jewish immigration to America through New York. We eat only kosher food in New York, and take in lots of purely tourist activities as well – from Ice Skating and visiting Rockefeller Center to walking in Central Park. We even visit Columbia University if the students are interested in seeing this beautiful city campus.
The students become very close during the trip, both with each other and with Hazzan Ben-Yehuda. The relationships formed during the trip and the classes are, for some of our students, part of what makes them life-long friends. It certainly is the foundation for the relationships they will have with their clergy, hopefully, for the rest of their lives!