Beyond Brit Mitzvah

We are committed to providing our teens with high-quality, meaningful content that fully engages them. Our students have opportunities to socialize and create a Jewish peer group, thereby enhancing their connection to the Jewish community. We guide them as they mature and become literate, responsible, and committed Jewish adults.

Confirmation Academy: Grades 8-10

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am only for myself, what am I?  And if not now, when?” — Hillel, Pirkei Avot 1:14

GRADE 8 – If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

Students focus on issues of self and relationships with others. Ethics and ethical decision-making, personal choices, relationships, and Jewish identity are key topics of discussion.

Core to our religious teaching is the value that human life is sacred and that each of us is created b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God. Judaism teaches us to see ourselves as sacred and our bodies as precious gifts. Our teens come to understand that the issues we discuss relate not only to their personal growth and development but are intimately tied to their identity as Jews. Core religious values serve as the Jewish lens through which students learn to see their world. Our eighth and ninth graders participate in an overnight experience in New York City.

GRADE 9 – If I am only for myself, what am I?

Students focus on issues of social justice and explore interpersonal relationships more deeply. Key topics include food insecurity, poverty, homelessness, medical ethics, capital punishment, and environmental awareness.

Students continue exploring the core religious values that form their Jewish lens. Our sacred obligation to tikkun olam (repairing the world) and social justice are key components in this curriculum. Teens learn that these are not just expectations, but that active engagement will afford us Jewish lives filled with meaning and purpose. Our eighth and ninth graders participate in an overnight experience in New York City

GRADE 10 – If not now, when?

Students have the very special opportunity for deep and intimate study with Rabbi Gluck. There’s a significant focus on continued identity formation, ethics, and social justice. As one teen eloquently explained, “In tenth grade everything we have learned throughout religious school comes together and makes sense.”

The highlight of the year is a four-day overnight trip to Washington DC, to participate in the L’Taken Social Justice Seminar with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Students are exposed to the Reform Jewish stance on issues of social, environmental, and economic justice. In addition to learning sessions, Shabbat celebration, and visiting the United States Holocaust Museum, the program culminates with a day on Capitol Hill in which our teens lobby legislators on issues important to them.

From one of our teens:

“The 10th grade trip to Washington DC not only brought me closer to my classmates but also taught me about important issues that are affecting the Jewish community. My favorite part of the trip was definitely the last day when we went to Capitol Hill and spoke to our Congressmen and Senator. I also really enjoyed meeting other teenage Jews from around the country. I still keep in touch with some people I met.”

Confirmation Academy: Grades 11 and 12

Students engage in a less formal, but no less substantive, program of study with Rabbi Gluck and Director of Education Lisa Friedman. Topics for discussion are driven by the students with continued emphasis on meaningful social connections. Our Confirmation Academy 11th/12th grade students go on one or two local field trips each year. Past trips have included volunteering at the Hebrew Union College soup kitchen in NYC and visiting other houses of worship.

In alternating years, students travel to Atlanta, Georgia where the trip’s emphasis is on the intersection of Judaism and the Civil Rights movement, and Charleston, South Carolina where the emphasis is on Jewish history, including the complicated experience of slave ownership.

From one of our teens following the Charleston trip:

“The 11th & 12th grade trip was everything I had hoped it would be. Visiting a place so rich with Jewish history that dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War was incredible. I enjoyed Shabbat services in a temple that is the fourth oldest in the United States. This trip also helped to strengthen my friendships.”

Our twelfth graders reaffirm their commitment to Judaism by leading the congregation in worship in a Ceremony of Confirmation.