The school bell rang, as I packed my books and headed to the car. Little did I know, I was heading down to Washington D.C. for the trip of a lifetime. I was about to embark on a journey that would teach me about courage, religion and reason. My temple and I were taking a trip to lobby to Congress. I wondered what I was going to discuss, whom I was going to meet and whether or not the trip would be worth it. I arrived at my temple with a smile on my face. I was so nervous but eager to go to Washington. During the R.A.C. trip I learned many things
by Raquel Rosen
There will always be a place in my heart and time in my day for Adonai. The evening routine of taking just five minutes to have a conversation with God will never be a bother, and I am committed to continuing this nightly ritual I began four years ago as I was preparing for my Bat Mitzvah. I feel close to God when I sing along with the members in my synagogue while the rabbi leads us in prayer, however, I feel a strong connection to Adonai when I pray one-on-one. The connection Adonai and I have together is so strong, deep, and meaningful, and I never want to lose the relationship we have together.
by Jen Onefater
If I understand correctly, I was assigned to talk about my obligations to God and Judaism. I might as well stop right here, because I can state outright that I have no obligations to my religion whatsoever. My morality and everyday decisions, as well as my plans for the future, do not stem from the desire to appease a higher power. The nature of my actions is not based on a fear of not being a good enough Jew, or whether I thoroughly uphold Jewish principles. It is not the Torah that dictates my right from wrong, but rather the lessons I was taught as a child and any revelatory experiences I’ve had in the past. The whole idea of having obligations implies being burdened to do something, which should never be the case when contributing to the sustenance and enrichment of one’s religion.
What is the definition of the word obligation? To me it is much more than following the requirements. In life there are many obligations that I have, but one of the most important ones is my religion. There is a lot of commitment to God and Judaism that takes a lot of my time and heart; it is not just going to temple on the High Holidays and becoming Bat Mitzvah – it’s continuing after – committing to Judaism and forming a place in the mature Jewish community. I have decided to place Judaism and God in my box of important aspects of my life.
by Noah Genovese-Mester
Every year the Passover seder is concluded with the phrase, “Next Year in Jerusalem!” This phrase is a relic of a time when Jerusalem was under the control of foreign kings and the Jewish people were scattered in diaspora. For thousands of years, Jerusalem was under foreign control, and only after the Second World War were our prayers answered and Jerusalem returned to the Jewish people. Today, we no longer have to pray for Jerusalem, Israel stands as an independent nation, and all peoples of the world are free to go to and from Jerusalem as they please. God listened to the hopes and prayers of our ancestors for the Holy Land to be returned to the Jews, and even though it took thousands of years Jerusalem was returned to the Jewish people. Today, even though we no longer pray for a free Jerusalem, our prayers mirror those of our ancestors thousands of years ago.
by Sam Golden
Having attended religious school at Temple Rodeph Torah for many years, I have given a good deal of thought to how Judaism pertains to my everyday life. What I do each day as a Jewish adult is a very personal decision and affects many aspects of my life. My Jewish background and teachings are influential in how I make decisions, the different facets of my current life and how I will live my life in the future. A big part of being a Jew means trying to become the best person I can be.
by Noah Goldstein
I was talking to my brother one day about Judaism. I know that it’s quite a topic to be talking about on a Friday night at the mall. An interesting topic had come up. It was that, being Jewish isn’t just a religion as much as it is a lifestyle and a community working together with the religion. When I looked back at the statement, I realized that it perfectly described my life as a Jew. I am completely a part of this Jewish community in many ways, but not all of them are very religious. These are things like being in the temple youth group, RTSY, doing community work with my peers, and my relationship with all of the people in the temple.
by Jen Koppel
How I got here: Confirmation is here and it is surreal. Confirmation is a journey and mine started when I was born with Israeli blood. My grandparents on my dad’s side came to Israel when they escaped World War II, then moved to America about 50 years ago. Since then, I have always felt it was my obligation to dig deeper into my heritage and that is how I ended up at Hebrew school many years back. My intention was to just learn about some holidays and songs, then be done with it. I couldn’t have been more naïve.
by Amanda Margolies
On the RAC trip I learned many new things; a lot of this was the Jewish view on issues. I learned that we as Jews value standing up for others who cannot stand up for themselves. I knew this before our trip to Washington, D.C., but to see how we use it to help with political issues was fun to learn. One of the issues that I remember is Darfur, where there is genocide happening, and how the Jewish organizations were working on different ways to stop this.
We are obligated to be decent human beings. The Torah is filled with commandments and stories, lessons and guidelines on how to live our lives. But who can remember all 613 command-ments? Who can repeat every lesson learned from the Torah? It is nearly impossible to recall Judaism’s teachings regarding every facet of life. Judaism provides the framework; it is then up to each individual to complete the moral puzzle. No matter the difference in piece size or organization, the end result is the same. We are the formulators of our own puzzle of life. These are some of my pieces.
by Joy Mizrahi
Community service is very important to me. This is why I spent my summer in a challenging course to become certified as an EMT on our town’s first aid squad. As a volunteer EMT, I spend countless hours with the first aid squad responding to 911 emergency calls. As the Cadet Sergeant, I also spend many hours training other cadets and helping to keep the cadet squad running at its best. One thing that this volunteer experience has taught me is the ability to see the world in a different way. I get the chance to see all aspects of the community and help as much as I can. There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone in his or her time of need out of the goodness of my heart. Another thing I’ve learned through my experience as a volunteer EMT is the ability to face real world problems, which also helps my decision-making skills. I have the opportunity to see the effects of people’s poor decisions first-hand, such as when I responded to a first aid call for a motor vehicle accident involving a driver under the influence of alcohol or when I responded to a call for a teenager who was not wearing a helmet while using his pogo stick. This has helped me to learn that people must think before they act.
by Marlee Neugass
Sometimes, like teenagers often do, I wonder about my identity. I wonder about what defines me. I wonder about what makes me me. I find it not at all coincidental that whenever I think about the essence of who I am, I’m always brought back to who I am in the community, the roles I serve, the things I do and the person I am to others. To my parents, I am daughter. To my sibling, I am sister. To my teachers, I am student. In any case, I’ve realized that the whole of who I am has always been able to be summed up in who I am to the people around me and what I do for them. I believe the same thing goes for anyone who doesn’t spend their life in total isolation. Whether we like it or not, by nature of being in other people’s lives, our own identities are shaped. I’ve found that helping those in my community has influenced how I define and perceive myself. Through my community service, I have become Rock Shabbat roadie, religious school aid, a set of helping hands, and a friend.
by Jacob Parish
Confirmation. Accepting my role as an adult in the Jewish community. It took a while, but I’m finally here. It took years upon years of study and knowledge, service and action. It all started as an infant, when I was brought to Temple Rodeph Torah for “Mommy and Me” through kindergarten.
However, my religious studies actually began in third grade, in Hebrew School. From learning the stories of the Torah, to taking a virtual trip to Israel, to overcoming the arduous tasks to become a Bar Mitzvah, complemented by attending a fair amount of services, third through seventh grades were the foundations of my studies.
by Sarah Skran
Many people in my school choose to live their lives using the ethics of hedonism. This is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In other words, pleasure is the highest good. What some people do to follow hedonism is they immerse themselves in pleasures where their primary goal is to erase pain. All these things will eliminate their pain at least for a short amount of time and thus allow them to live life only for pleasure. Pleasure, while I feel it is good to have sometimes, should not be our highest value. Some things when used/done in moderation can help with the pains of life but should not be done 100% of the time to completely eliminate pain. People who feel they must do these things all the time tend to feel that, if they were to die tomorrow, that because they will only live once, why not live life by 100% pleasure and 0% pain? In response to this I interpret the meaning of life in a different way.
Rachel Beck REDEMPTION
Give me the strength and hope to go through life with a smile. Give me the strength to be positive in a world that is stressful, troubling and terrifying at times. When I fall or make mistakes, give me the strength to get up and move forward. Strength, a strong voice and hope are all I need to live life to the fullest and truly be happy.
What does Confirmation mean to me? If you asked me what Confirmation meant to me three months ago, I would have said it was furthering my Jewish education. I have now learned that it has a much greater meaning. Confirmation is hope, strength and most importantly, social action. Being confirmed isn’t a destination; it’s a milestone in both life and Tikkun Olam.
Emily Esquenazi GOD
Life can be a lot of things. Life can hit you with storms and sunshine, love and hate, good and evil. I pray for that indescribable feeling of happiness and strength, when a streak of light shoots through every part of me, when I can’t help but smile, when I want to run into an empty field on a beautiful day and bask in pure joy. Thank you, God for making life the way it is. The tough times demand strength while the good times evoke joy. Even with all the evil in the world, God blessed everyone to be different in their own way and to have the ability to be like YOU.
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation is a symbol of a journey to my place in the Jewish community and an acceptance of the responsibilities that come with it.
Noah Genovese-Mester LOVE
When I was 2, my little brother, Jack was born. Jack has Autism. I never understood why he was different but I always went out of my way to protect and love him. Although Jack rarely speaks, I often wonder how much he truly understands about the world around him. I realize that God has created all of us to be different and yet similar in so many ways. Jack can’t TELL me how much he loves me but, when I look into his eyes, I know he does. God made Jack capable of doing what everyone else does, albeit in a different way. Realizing this made me understand, that God has made all of us unique yet, no matter how different some of us may be, we are all alike in ways we don’t realize. God has given us the ability to find the common ground.
Noah Goldstein TORAH/LEARNING/GOD/COMMUUNITY
Trying to understand your Torah and your teachings is hard so, Thank You for friends to join us on the way.
Trying to interpret what You mean and apply it personally is difficult so, thank You for teachers who explain it and help us to create our own ideas.
What You teach us is a way of life. It’s a commitment to help the world, to help other people and the calling to be the change we wish to see in the world.
God, thank You for giving us a community so we can work together to implement Your commandments together, as Jews.
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation is helping to change the world in a Jewish way, using Jewish values to shape the world into the way it really should be and into a world that we are proud to live in.
Jen Koppel PEACE
There’s something about the sun’s rays seeping in and marinating my skin with a healthy glow that’s so relaxing. The second those ear buds finally settle comfortably in my ears reassures me that the clamor of the world will soon be tuned out and replaced by my favorite country music playlist. Feeling salty water come up, engulfing my toes in the toasty sand that washes away my worries. I know this is where I am supposed to be and I have reached nirvana. The little things in life mean the most. It is challenging to see yet so obvious when felt.
Dear God, help all of us to take a step back and become one with our inner peace and find You.
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation means being a productive member of a Jewish society and taking an active role in Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.
Amanda Margolies CREATION
Thank You for all the beauty of the world that surrounds me. Thank You, most of all, for giving me the ability to appreciate your creations. I love the sounds, sights, smells and feelings that begin my day. How can a day be anything but good when it begins with the smell of fresh air, the sounds of birds chirping and the feeling of the warmth of the sun on my face?
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation is a celebration at the end of 10th grade. At the end of this year, we can finally say that we all made a difference in the world.
Kerin Miller COMMUNITY
Eyelids drooping from lack of sleep, fingers numb with cold, but the connection I felt with God was undeniable. At that moment, I was one single candle among over 500, illuminating the Jefferson Memorial.
It didn’t matter how old or young, devout or non-practicing, wealthy or struggling, from New Jersey or Arizona… we were all one, united by Judaism. We were a community of shining candles sharing a moment of prayer as we bid farewell to Shabbat.
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation symbolizes a continued growth as a Jew. I’m no longer the 13 year-old “daughter of the commandments” but a young Jewish adult. I have learned through my continued education, to embody the values of Judaism.
Joy Mizrahi SOCIAL ACTION
We are the people who go against the odds. We are the people who have a voice and we can be heard. We are all one . . . we are the difference . . . we can change the world. Tikvah (hope) and Koach (strength) are the footsteps to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation is the beginning of the next step in my Jewish education. It means that I have reached a point where I am able to keep learning more.
Marlee Neugass CONNECTION TO GOD
We are a part of the something more, the something bigger that connects us all. That which we cannot even begin to understand. Standing steadily-footed on this earth, we are surely, perhaps unknowingly a part of it. It is not within us because we are inside of it. Each one of us, we make up the spirit of the universe. Maybe that’s God. We are constantly surrounded by it. It never leaves us. So we are never alone.
What does Confirmation mean to me? To me, my Confirmation is me telling myself that I am still up for the challenge that God gave me… the same one that I accepted when I became a Bat Mitzvah… to do my part in healing the world.
Jen Onefater PEACE
In the sixteen years that I have lived, I’ve heard of more instances of human on human conflict than anyone should hear in a lifetime. War, murder, oppression, bigotry . . . all it takes is glancing at a newspaper to be reminded of how seemingly easy it is to resort to violence and hatred.
Which is why I bring forward this question: If we cannot be at peace with ourselves, how can we be at peace with others? The idea of reaching inner peace is underestimated in our society. Perhaps if there was more emphasis placed on how to better ourselves in the moment, we wouldn’t have to spend so much time shaking our heads at a person whose inner conflicts went too far and got the best of them.
Jacob Parish TRADITION
Prayer, learning, acts of kindness all are elements that bind us together as Jews. To me, tradition is at the top of the list. Gathering around a table to have a seder with my family is a highlight of my year. It gives all of us a chance to connect with each other as well as providing a link to the past and the future. Knowing that I am continuing traditions that began many centuries ago and establishing a path for future generations, fills me with joy and fulfillment.
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation is only a step in continuing my Jewish studies and actually taking action in our community. Those in need might be Jewish or non-Jewish but we are all human beings.
Raquel Rosen NATURE/CREATION
God, as I gaze out at the stars at night, marveling at their beauty, I am reminded of Your everlasting existence and am able to comprehend the meaning of my life here on earth. I am here to make the world a better place. It is simple to find the majesty that You have placed into everything on this planet but it is the determined and open-minded who will learn to love and appreciate Your wondrous creations.
What does Confirmation mean to me? Confirmation means working towards Tikkun Olam and also realizing that it never ends. Through this you learn more of what it means to be a Jew.