CONFIRMATION CLASS for 10th Graders
Meet monthly with Rabbi Moskowitz at the Temple. Discuss your place in the world and the Jewish world.
Do Mitzvah projects together. Explore the 10 Commandments. Figure out what is worth Fight For.
Have Fun. Travel. Eat.
Confirmation 5782 (June 2022)
Our Confirmands responded to a variety of prompts. Some wrote one essay and others wrote separate paragraphs responding to questions including -
What is your relationship to G!d? What does being Jewish mean to you?
What have you learned about Judaism or yourself this Confirmation year?
What are you affirming?
This year, I am confirming, and am taking the next big step with Judaism as a large role in my life. To be “Confirmed” in Judaism doesn’t have a concrete definition or meaning, the same as a Bar-Mitzvah or a Bris has. Starting less than 200 years ago all around reform based synagogues, it is one of the newer Jewish traditions, and within my research, the general definition I was able to find is that it was simply just “a ceremony in correlation of the holiday Shavuot that is used as a coming of age for a teenager, a few years after their bar or bat mitzvah ceremony.” However, I believe that the definition of this tradition is left loose-bound for a reason, it is our job to be able to interpret and digest the knowledge we learned during our confirmation into our lives to live as rightful Jewish adults in our own ways.
Adulthood is the next chapter of my life, and likely the most difficult one, and I am going to have to make many difficult decisions and choices throughout it. To prepare us for this, oftentimes during confirmation, we would speak about topics that often spark debate and push us to make sophisticated decisions throughout our lives. For example, in December, we spoke about the extent to which we should go about celebrating and involving other religions, their cultures and holidays, such as Christmas in our lives. To assist with the idea of making right decisions, on January 23rd we spoke about how to interpret the 10 commandments into our lives, and what they mean in our lives when making such decisions.
We finally furthered this idea of decision during our session in March, tying these elements of choice in our past and present lives to the idea of Middot, which can be defined as the balancing act of Jewish ethical decisions. In simpler terms, it basically represents the idea of the best balance between the ideas represented throughout the Torah, and situations in our lives. For example, using Middot, we broke down the Jewish commandment “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We can understand that it is important to treat your community well, and the same way that you would like to be treated, but we must also understand that in order to help others, you must first take care of yourself.
Confirmation class taught me to understand and embrace Judaism in new ways in my life that will benefit me throughout the long treacherous journey of adulthood, and I will forever be thankful. Thank you Rabbi Moskowitz for aiding me during this journey.
This year in confirmation I have learned many new and important lessons I will use all through my lifetime. I believe everything in life that was created was for a reason and everything has an explanation, but G-D does not grant us access to the meaning of what that is. No matter what circumstance is happening we must confide our full faith and 100% trust in what G-D has planned for us whether that is something we were not aware of or having to get over the fear of the unknown.
Since Jews are a little portion of the population on this planet, we have the obligation and are held responsible to help G-D keep the earth a better place and still help G-D repair the damage of what needs to be fixed. G-D made every human on this earth completely different with unique traits but as the Jewish population comes together it creates perfection. For example I learned, when I went to Puerto Rico on the community service trip, that taking a group of kids all around the same age and having us all contribute to the work makes a humongous impact. What being Jewish means to me is that when any opportunity to help others comes along, you should offer help.
As a Jew, I feel that appreciating G-d is often only thought to be able to be done through prayer. However, I have learned that another, if not better way, is to carry out G-d’s ideals in everyone's daily life. If I were to tell you that I woke up each morning and read the entire Siddur and Torah to picture how I would plan out my day, I’d be lying. When it comes to my daily life, I feel that as people created in G-d’s image, it is important to count those little things that allow people to be better. That’s what G-d intended in making people in G-d’s reflection. This means always looking out for other people, being kind, appreciative, and graceful. It means everyday waking up and striving for success in what you want and believe in. It means never stop protecting the people you love. Being faithful to G-d does not mean going to services everyday or basing life off just studying the Torah. Jewish education every day is constantly changing to society and often does not draw defined ideas of how to live your life from the Torah. All that is important is to always remember what you believe in and strive for the ideals that G-d so thoroughly emphasizes.
When I am asked what it means to be Jewish, an answer I can always rely on is being a fighter. Since the beginnings of the Jewish faith, the Jewish people were always fighting against opposition. This can trace back to Abraham defying idols in a polytheistic world, to the Maccabees fighting oppressors in the Chanukah miracle, to pogroms in Russia, the atrocities of the Holocaust, and to finally today still remaining strong with existing antisemetic sentiments. As one of history’s most oppressed people, I feel that one of the most important Jewish values is to never stop fighting for what you believe in. It is vital that people fight for both their own success and values in life. This means that people must strive for what they really want. In Confirmation Class, I learned about limiting factors: thoughts from people that they are unable to do something because that was how it was taught to them. It is important to fight those emotions and strive for what you believe in. In addition, people must strive to protect both their ideas and the things and people they love. I feel that it is necessary to never let anyone defy what you hold close to you. This is the mindset the Jewish people have held when defying oppressors throughout history, and it is something I apply to my everyday life. This value surpasses just the Jewish religion and should really but should really be emphasized everywhere.
G-D plays a role in my life in several ways. First I believe G-D has a plan for me that shapes my day. I am guided by this plan. In my opinion everything happens for a reason, and there is a greater plan for how my life will work out. God also gives me something to look up to as a much higher figure than life itself. Lastly G-D created the world that we live in and we should be thankful enough for that in itself.
I learned a few things through my confirmation experience. One thing I learned is how to see other people’s perspectives which allowed me to look at things differently and be more open-minded. I also gained more knowledge about Israel and Its culture. I was able to learn about how some values of other groups differ and whether I think those values are fair.
Back, two Novembers ago, I was preparing to hang out with my friends for the night. I got dressed and had some time so I decided to do a little exercise. I hopped on the pull-up bar, and after one or two pull-ups, I stopped. This was not due to my inability to do many pull-ups. The bar crashed and I fell straight onto my back. When I fell, I thought this would be bad. Right away my back felt instant pain, I went into a state of shock and I could not breathe. I was on the ground squirming, my parents were downstairs. I was panicking. I said in my head please God let me be ok, let me speak to my parents. And with that, I managed to call out to my parents to come help. I was still struggling to breathe, but thanks to God and my parent's good advice I ended up ok. Another plus to that night, while I did not get to see my friends, on the way home from the doctor, I was watching the Knicks game and they won! I thank God that I was ok and take that as a lesson to be more careful and for pullup bars, test them before getting on to ensure their stability.
On the trip to Puerto Rico, I had an unbelievable experience, one that I needed as a break from the pressures of school. To share a few of my favorite moments, on the first day we went to the boys and girls club, and while I did not expect this, I truly enjoyed using the little Spanish I have learned from school with the Puerto Rican children of Old San Juan. I was able to create real conversations and make connections. On the second day, we helped in the process of rebuilding Dõna Rosa's house. While the work was tough, the fact that together we were all able to put our strength together to help the community was amazing and Dõna Rosa most definitely deserved it, she was the sweetest lady and her bread was pretty, pretty good. Later on the second day, while not a charitable activity, the boys rented electric scooters on the beach and I had one of the most fun experiences of my life and I will remember that time forever. Overall, the trip was amazing and I am lucky I got to participate.
Judaism has taught me the value of helping people in their time of need. In Puerto Rico we volunteered in several different places including a Boys and Girls Club, rebuilding a house and helping restore a park. I did this all while creating amazing friendships with the people around me. Seeing how people stepped up in the time of others’ need was beautiful to watch. When people are going through rough times it is when they need their friends and community the most. Judaism is not only a community, but a family. The people you meet around you create a sense of family for you, and themselves too.
Recently when working at the soup kitchen I saw so many people coming in and out dropping off food for the soup kitchen. It was such a beautiful sight to see. I was moved when someone from a large group came, and dropped off bags of sandwiches with drawings from kids on the bags. When volunteering in Hebrew school I’ve seen relationships form between the students I help out with, and how when one of them is confused others step up and help the other person out. The value of helping others isn’t just something that is seen in Judaism, but everywhere and is a lesson that should be used by everyone.
Something I learned this year in Confirmation Class is that it is always worth fighting for what you believe in and you should stand up for yourself. Especially as a Jew, there will always be people trying to tell you what you can and cannot do and also trying to put you down. But, that should not pull you away from your own beliefs and what you stand for. No one should be able to tell you that your ideas are wrong, or that even your religious beliefs are wrong. Jews should always stand up for their religious beliefs just as previous generations of Jews did many years ago. But it doesn’t only apply to Judaism, it can be with everything in life. Always push yourself to achieve whatever it is in life that you want, even though there may be someone in the way saying you shouldn’t. Limiting factors may try to get in the way of that and disrupt your path but that should not stop you from continuing.
Another thing that I have learned while in confirmation class, is that G!D is always there and plays many roles in our life. At one class we looked at many different images of random views and scenery and in each and every one of them we were able to find how G!D was there. Whether it was G!D guiding us through our difficulties and giving us the perseverance we need to push through, or G!D shining light on us in dark times when we needed it, we were always able to relate these images back to G!D. This just showed me how G!D is always there for us and can be found in any scenario. This was very meaningful to me because deep down, you can know that G!D will always be there for you, no matter what the circumstances are, and can help you get through rough events by giving G!D support when you need it most. Although it may be hard to realize that since G!D won’t physically be there, in your heart you can always know that G!D will be supporting you no matter what.
G!d plays a role in my life as someone I can look to for guidance or support. When my grandfather got sick, I prayed to God to help him recover and to make it through his surgery. And I thank God that he made it through. God was an external support for me and my family to make it through that period of life, when it was harder to rely on them for support when they were also going through so much at the time.
Being Jewish means having connection with family. because over the holidays we are together. one example of this is over Passover. We were with my cousins and grandparents. Having the holidays is a nice event for us all to be together over.
I have experienced God many times in my young life. I feel God every morning, grateful that he has given me another day to work my hardest. God visits me before every one of my games. I thank him for the opportunity to succeed next to my friends in all the sports I am so passionate about. When I head out to a game, I remind myself that this is all possible because of God and that through him, anything is possible. I thank God often for making me different from my peers and blessing me with my finer qualities. To me, being Jewish makes me special. Most of my football and lacrosse team mates are not Jewish. So when I’m out on the football/lacrosse field, I’m representing. And I am proud to represent my people and my culture. And, of course, I want to play my very best! I like being Jewish. I like learning about my history and my ancestors. As I get older, I’m sure I’ll have many more experiences in which to thank God for.
G-d plays a role in my life. During the summer of 2020, my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer. I was really scared for him because I loved him so much and I didn’t want to lose him. Because of this, I began to pray every night before I went to sleep asking G-d to keep my grandpa safe and also to keep my mom safe because she was doing every single thing to help him and it was very hard for her. This ultimately did not save my grandpa, but whenever I prayed I felt safer and happier to be more connected to G-d. Today, I still pray all the time. I pray for others if someone I know is really sick or something bad happens to them. I also pray before every big test I have such as right before the AP exams I took. I was really scared waiting to take the exams but after I prayed, I felt more relaxed and confident that everything would be okay. I knew that G-d would always be there for me and would always have my back.
I learned many things on our teen trip to Puerto Rico. From all of the great activities that we did such as helping to build the roof and going to the boys and girls club, I learned how great it really is to help others. I felt so happy seeing that we could make other people that happy. I also learned how to better work as a team with others. When we were helping to build the roof, we all had to work together to do certain jobs such as moving the heavy wood planks through the house and up the stairs. It was great to see how much we could accomplish if we all worked as a team. I loved the trip to Puerto Rico and I will definitely be at the next teen trip.
To me, God is a sense of a higher power who gives us the ability to choose our own path. God is not just an idea but also a reality that we can live in. I believe God is a feeling and it's something that you and I can feel. I think God is a feeling because He has given us the ability to choose what we want out of our lives and how we want to live them. When we wake up till when we go to bed all of our choices are influenced by our morals. I have learned this about God throughout my life. I've learned that God is always there for me no matter what happens or where I am. I know that God is always with me, even if it's hard to believe at times. He knows everything about me and I trust Him to help me through any situation. When I'm in trouble, He will always be there for me. When I'm sad, He will always be there for me. When I'm angry, He will always be there for me. He knows every emotion and every feeling. He loves me unconditionally, even though I don't know if He is always there I always have faith in Him. He knows my weaknesses and strengths, but I never doubt His ability to show up when I need him most.
In confirmation class I have learned a variety of things about my Judaism. Throughout my years at TBT, I learned that not only is being Jewish a gift, it leads you to a journey of growth. Being at TBT has allowed me to see that it’s okay to express and be myself whether it’s expressing Judaism or just being silly with my friends. I learned that Judaism means growth and individuality.
What it means to be Jewish is being raised with similar values as other Jews which leads me to be able to relate to people because other Jews have the same background and struggles. Being Jewish really means to have a community because I can celebrate the holidays with my friends and really break away from the stress of highschool and just enjoy my time with friends at this temple.
What does Judaism mean to me? To start, I was born on July 18. In the Jewish religion, 18 is known as “chai” which translates to “life” in English and signifies good luck.
Being Jewish to me is not just about studying the Torah or going to temple. I look forward to celebrating the holidays with my family. During this time, we eat traditional Jewish holiday foods. Over Passover, my mom makes me matzah brei, and brisket for Rosh Hashana, and of course, when I’m sick she makes me chicken soup. These are not necessarily religious, but they are a part of the Jewish tradition.
We also have rituals that remind me of those holidays or occasions such as finding the afikoman, reciting the prayers on Hanukkah, and even dancing the horah at a bar mitzvah or a wedding. I will remember these traditions as being a major part of my childhood and I intend to continue with them when I have a family someday.
Another aspect of being Jewish is the sense of community. No matter where I go in the world, I know that when I meet a Jewish person we share a common background and a common connection. It can, unfortunately, be something negative that ties Jews together such as anti-semitism. Knowing hate, is specifically targeted at my religion, makes it very personal to me and all other Jews. It is one of the reasons it's important to carry on traditions and remain connected to the Jewish community.
Joining Jewish organizations or groups such as a confirmation class with others is one way to stay connected and I’m proud to have participated in and completed confirmation.
This year's confirmation class has really lifted me and helped me learn and experience what it is truly like to be Jewish. I have learned several important messages and information, but the one that sticks out to me the most is when we dissected Hatikva. This was very important and meaningful because we would sing it and I never knew what it truly meant. Comparing it with the US national anthem really helped me understand and dive into the Hatikvah. The words of the anthem helped me understand the Jewish journey.
Being Jewish is a very big part of my life and I am proud of it. From the delicious food to the vibrant colors and meaningful holidays and rich tradition. Confirmation this year helped me learn what being Jewish really means beside the food and holidays.
Judaism means bravery to me. To think about what our ancestors and Jews thousands of years ago had to sacrifice and go through to save not only a religion, but a culture. Being Jewish allows me to remember those who fought for my religion. I am proud to be Jewish and this year’s confirmation class helped realize who I truly am and what my religion really is.
God to me means to community. Judaism is founded on a belief in God, but it has come to be associated with many other cultural practices, beliefs, and ideals-- such as music, kindness, and equality. These Jewish ideals, when shared among many people, are very grounding to me. Having others that share similar experiences and beliefs as me gives me a sense of comfort and security. I think that God can be a grounding belief for many, as can the concepts that come with it. I went to a Jewish camp, and I remember feeling so welcomed by everyone because I automatically knew that we all had something in common. The same goes for my experience with Temple. Whenever I feel I need to ground myself, I know I can look to God and Judaism.
This year in Confirmation Class I have learned the importance of giving of myself, both in time and spirit, to help those in need. For instance, earlier this year, I, along with a few of my classmates helped to bring in food donations at a supermarket. Together, we encouraged shoppers to donate items to help families in need. I felt like I was part of something good, something that brought the community together, and something that helped others. After helping at the supermarket I had the wonderful opportunity through the Confirmation Class to go to Puerto Rico where, once again, I along with a few of my classmates, helped to bring in supplies and repair a house that had been damaged by the Hurricane earlier this year. This class has helped me learn more about Judaism and how to implement it in my daily life. Confirmation Class showed me the importance of helping others and being charitable, and it showed me that these values are values which are central to Judaism.
To me, being Jewish is more than just a religion, it is a way of life shared with a community of like-minded people. Being Jewish means being open minded, open to ideas and people and understanding and being tolerant of differences. To me, being Jewish is about giving back , giving of myself to others in need. Whether that is by my physical labor or a donation of some sort, to me being Jewish means being charitable. To me, being Jewish means being part of something bigger than me, larger than my life, it means I am part of thousands of years of history, preceded by others who read the same prayers, danced the same dances, lit candles in the same way at the same times that I do. Being Jewish means tradition, community, connection. It affords me all of this and so much more. It keeps me centered, grounded and allows me to feel a part of something bigger than myself. Ultimately, to me Judaism is a way of living and a way of life.
Throughout our confirmation meetings this year, I learned to appreciate the special joys that come from sharing a space and a conversation with my Rabbi and my classmates. The small yet memorable tangents throughout our meetings that we chose to embrace as opposed to neglect. As a collective group, we managed to think outside the box and talk about important information that is relevant in this day and age. We discussed the Israel-Palestine conflict going on in the middle east, we discussed the systemic racism happening in the United States, and we discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, a historical event that impacted all corners of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed these conversations and found value in learning the perspectives of my classmates.
Friends by Taylor Ettenger
Chorus: Friends are here when you need them
Welcome to our show
Yeah we made it this far
Another year in the books
Only a few small disasters
Standing together again
Who thought that this would ever happen
Friends at the beginning
Friends at the end
From start to finish you were my friend
They’ll be with you through rough times
Friends are here to hold your hand
Welcoming in the good and the bad
Friends won’t take you for granted
They won’t make you do things you don’t wanna do
Friends will just be there for you
Bonds’ll never fade
We have sewn em too tight
Memories are here forever
Nothing can take them from us
Talking through our hardships
That’ll always be us
Chorus:Friends are here when you need them
They’ll be with you through rough times
Friends are here to hold your hand
Welcoming in the good and the bad
Friends won’t take you for granted
They won’t make you do things you don’t wanna do
Friends will just be there for you
This has been an interesting year
It’ll be one for the books
My friends have been by my side
Through it all (x2)
People say that it won’t last
High School will stay in the past
But I know that that won’t be true
For us us us
Friends are here when you need them
They’ll stay with you through rough times
Friends will always hold your hand
You’ll welcome in your good and your bad
My friends don’t take me for granted
They’ll stick with me through it all
Friends right here
Friends right now
There’s no doubt