Confirmation and Graduation
Confirmation at Temple Beth Ami
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 a recent addition to the cycle of Jewish observance and celebration. In the middle of the l9th century, the founders of the Reform movement felt that the ritual of Bar and Bat Mitzvah did not speak to the social and spiritual realities of an enlightened, non‑Orthodox European Jewry. They also were dedicated to a level of Jewish education for young people which required study beyond the age of thirteen. Consequently, many of these congregations created an extended and sophisticated program of study and a celebration of its conclusion. Today, even while most Reform congregations have re‑established Bar and Bat Mitzvah in a manner appropriate to our Jewish communities, Confirmation has become an integral part of the life of Reform congregations and of many Conservative congregations as well.
At Temple Beth Ami, 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 Shavuoth, the festival which commemorates the giving of Torah at Mt.Sinai, and the time at which Confirmation is celebrated.
Confirmation represents the capstone of the current program of formal religious education at Temple Beth Ami. It is a curriculum which begins in Eighth grade and culminates in a special Tenth Grade experience, and one in which we hope every student will participate. Therefore, substantial congregational resources are expended on behalf of the Confirmation program. This includes a significant involvement on the part of the Rabbis, Cantor, Director of Education, as well as the Confirmation Coordinator and our master teachers.
We feel that a Jewish education at Temple Beth Ami which does not extend through Confirmation is incomplete.
Graduation at Temple Beth Ami
Our 12th grade students spend the year focusing on what it means to live Jewishly after high school. Topics covered during this year include Jewish life on campus, friendships, freedom, finances, social justice, and Jewish practice as a young adult. Seniors participate in a special t-shirt quilt project in which they reminisce about their childhood via T-shirts collected through the years. After sharing personal stories about the shirts, they are made into beautiful quilts. Seniors also reflect on their studies at Temple Beth Ami, “why they stayed”(at Machane TBA)and they share the answer to that question with the congregation as part of a culminating spring graduation service. The senior year and graduation ceremony are very meaningful opportunities for students to solidify their connections to their peers, to the congregation and to Judaism.