Confirmation and Shavuot

Confirmation is one of our youngest Jewish life cycle rituals. The first confirmation took place only about 200 years ago in 1810 when Israel Jacob- son, a wealthy German businessman took over $100,000 of his personal funds to build a synagogue in Seesen, Germany. He wanted this synagogue to be a place where Judaism would be relevant to moderns, a place where men and women could sit and worship together, and a place where new rituals could be created and claimed.

We celebrate confirmation in conjunction with Shavuot, the festival of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, because within the confirmation ritual our young people are affirming their strong inner ties to Judaism. On June 2, Ella Newell and Max Tribulski will have the opportunity to make this affirma- tion surrounded and supported by confirmation classmates, teachers and family members. Each of us has a unique path and tie to our sacred tradition. For some the entry way is through social justice. For others it is through prayer and ritual. For still others it is through sacred text, music, food or community. But how would we ever get a chance to make those connections without beloved educators?

This spring we celebrate three wonderful educators. Narda Oz is a treasure in our midst. She has been teaching at BCRC for over 14 years now and has come to call this congregation her home. When we were in a tight spot last year and needed to find an interim educator, Narda stepped in to run our school. She has the respect of our teachers because she herself is a master in the classroom. Though her love of Judaism and the Hebrew language seeps from her every pore, it is also evident in her ready smile. Almost weekly, when I work with B’nei Mitzvah students they turn to me and confide that they really did not think that they would ever make it through the process, that is until they met Narda. She meets each student where they are and sharing her love for Judaism, helps to empower them to learn at a very high level. Narda is ex- acting and her students shine because of her love and care. How fortunate we are that our students continue to acquire such a profound sense of self as young Jewish adults because of all her time, care, and wisdom. We owe Narda a huge thanks for her sacrifice this past year. She poured her heart and soul into our school as our interim director. Working with her each and every day was, and will continue to be, a personal honor. I am personally grateful that she will continue to teach and inspire as perhaps the most valued member of the Beth Chaim educational faculty.

And then there are Jack Diebler and Marcy McGee. Jack and Marcy have been teaching Confirmation together for 14 years now. During this time, they have worked with hundreds of young adults to help them define and explore their personal connections to Judaism. They teach in a beautiful tag team style, riffing off of one another, and genuinely tuning in to the needs of their students. Theirs is a class which is one of the most beloved in our school, because of the person- al connection they make with the students. That takes an incredible amount of time and devotion. Before they were a team in Confirmation, Marcy was the founding director of our religious school and has shared her ex- pertise as an educator in so many fantastic ways. She is also the co-founder of our resident youth theater com- pany, Shmata Productions. Jack too has dedicated himself to our congregation as a past President and has also taught in the school since its earliest days. A few months ago, they both decided that they want to step away from Confirmation next year. Yet we know that they will always be here to advise and add their special talents to our developing youth programming.