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.
Above all of this, the place that has most affected my knowledge as a Confirmand is Hebrew High School. Hebrew High was a tremendous commitment. Three years, once a week, for two hours, for twenty-two weeks per year really adds up. This is a total of 132 hours of my life dedicated to Hebrew high school, not including the trips taken and the mandated hours of community service. Not to mention, Hebrew High School and Confirmation were 100% voluntary. Post-Bar Mitzvah, during eighth and ninth grade, I further expanded my knowledge through new, unconventional classes, such as: yoga, relating yoga to prayer in a new way; art, understanding and recreating the works of famous Jewish artists throughout history; and cooking, understanding and recreating sentimental, traditional food. I also attended an out-of-state conclave in Pennsylvania where I met other Jewish young adults to learn and connect through religion.
Finally, tenth grade – Confirmation year. It was a long year, but throughout it I gained an endless amount of Jewish and personal knowledge. In one class, I not only learned about social action and Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, but actually performed it, making a difference in the lives of others. This included spending time with senior citizens at Sunrise Senior Living of Marlboro and helping to paint a small, poor church in Trenton. In my class with the rabbi, I was able to create my own moral code and further understand Jewish ethics through imagining and simulating difficult future decisions, as well as participating in various rather deep discussions and assignments. These helped me understand my beliefs, my decisions, and myself much better than before, while also allowing me to plan for the future.
In addition to class, I also went to Washington, D.C. via the Religious Action Center trip. There, along with hundreds of other soon-to-be Confirmands, I became aware of more Jewish and personal values, and also was taught about many global issues pertaining to the Jewish people. We then proceeded to lobby for these issues to our New Jersey Congressmen. This was another necessary step in my Confirmation process, learning valuable lessons and taking responsibility a mature adult.
All in all, after nearly a decade and a half of hard, voluntary, dedicated work, I am proud to be able to say that I am part of the Confirmation Class of 5774. This is only another step in my Jewish studies, another part of the endless ability to learn and take action, another opening to my path of a Jewish future.