SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, the Reform synagogue in South Orange, celebrated this year’s confirmation class on Friday, June 2, with a student-led service that featured students’ reflections on the year’s study as well as their place among the Jewish people.
The curriculum covered theology and the students’ personal concept of God, a study of the 10 Commandments from a modern perspective, and questions of Reform Jewish identity. The class enjoyed field trips to New York City to learn about the Jewish immigrant experience and the area’s Jewish roots, with visits to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Eldridge Street Synagogue, and to see the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” In tandem with TSTI’s involvement in the refugee resettlement initiative among South Orange’s three synagogues, the class also talked about their families’ immigrant roots and how it frames responses to immigrant issues today.
During the evening service and confirmation ceremony, students shared creative writings on how they understood and connected to prayer; they also read from the Torah and gave a class confirmation statement about their experience in TSTI’s Hebrew High. The confirmands acknowledged the power of the lessons they learned about Judaism and the deeper meanings of Jewish holidays, affirmed their place within the Jewish community and expressed a commitment to social justice. They also shared appreciation for the open forum they had to express opinions and their differing views on current events.
All of TSTI’s clergy members celebrated the milestone with the students, their families and the congregation. The 2017 confirmation class members are South Orange’s Shayna Cohen, Daniel Oxman, Jon Eigen, Ari Brown, Jack Abramson and Lewis Busch-Vogel; Maplewood’s Miranda Lipetz, Izzy Singer, Lyle Berkely, Jenna Essner, David Goetz, Ben Harris and Oliver Stoller; and Short Hills’ Wesley Gelman.