A new group of high school students will affirm their commitment to the Jewish faith this year as they lead services for their confirmations at Congregation Keneseth Israel and Temple Beth El.
Confirmation, according to Rabbi Seth Phillips of KI, is “a new Jewish ceremony that comes from the 19th century reformers who thought that at 13 (the age of bar mitzvah), modern children were too young to appreciate their Jewish status and responsibilities. Also, confirmation was a ceremony that included girls, who even in the Reform movement were not eligible to have a bat mitzvah until the 20th century.”
At KI, Jared Livezey, Daniel Roose, Hannah Schindler, Stefania Schoen, Jacob Sussman and Alex Valuntas will lead a service on Erev Shavuot, on Saturday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. “As the students take a next step in solidifying their Jewish experience, we link them with their ancestors who stood at Sinai to receive the Torah” during the service, Phillips added.
At Beth El, confirmation students will help lead the Shavuot service on May 20 at 9 a.m. “They will lead different parts of the Shavuot service – some of them will chant Torah and some of them will lead other prayers. They each decided how they wanted to contribute,” said Alicia Zahn, religious school director at Temple Beth El.
“This year, the kids studied midrash with Rabbi and reflected back on their prior years of religious school. They also explored different social action projects with Cantor,” Zahn described the process for the year before confirmation. “One of the highlights of their experiences was cooking a meal for 70 people and serving the meal at the Allentown Rescue Mission.”
As for continuing their Jewish journeys, “Shalshelet, our community high school program, is ready to welcome each of them next year,” Zahn said.
The Shalshelet program is for all Jewish teens in the Lehigh Valley and focuses on topics that teens choose to explore from multiple viewpoints.