Public Affirmation

June 6, 2019

RabbiWQAidzerheadshot-206x259It is no small thing in the world today to know what you believe and be willing to stand up for it. Some public figures seem to change their positions on important issues when it becomes convenient to say something different than what they’d said before. Some politicians are particularly good at this moral flexibility, supporting things they’d long opposed, or opposing things they once supported, depending on who’s in power or the latest polling numbers. It’s hard to know what they believe, or if they believe anything at all. This is not about people who are pragmatic, or those who thoughtfully grow in their ideas. It’s about knowing what a person truly believes and is willing to publicly affirm.

Which brings us to the Jewish lifecycle moment of Confirmation. Created by the founders of Reform Judaism in early 1800s Germany, Confirmation was designed as a ritual for a young adult (age 15-17) to affirm their Jewish identity. More than the practice of reading from the Torah or leading a worship service, as happens when one becomes Bar or Bat Mitzvah at age 13, Confirmation asks students to delve deeper into what they believe about being Jewish. Cognitively, emotionally, experientially, these students are more mature and better able to explore and express their beliefs. This then becomes their understanding of our faith, as they confirm their place in the community.

At Temple Beth El, as part of the Confirmation curriculum, we ask our students to write a personal statement of belief. This year’s Confirmation student, Ty Gorman, will deliver theirs at our Shabbat Service of Confirmation tomorrow night, Friday, June 7, at 7:30pm. I think you will find it tremendously moving as an affirmation of belief and a statement of purpose.

Congratulations to Ty and Ty’s family on this lifecycle moment, and to our entire Temple Beth El community on the Confirmation of a terrific student. I hope you’ll attend the service to be inspired by a younger member of our community who knows what they believe and is willing to stand up to publicly affirm it.