Oct 2006 Digest 158 this year we moved it to the previous week at the beginning of Sukkot. That way I felt the kids were featured rather than being kind of engulfed by the celebration of Simchat Torah, although I suppose one could argue the opposite, as well. Dave 400 + member units
Sept 2007 Digest 179 We moved our Consecration ceremony from Simchat Torah to Shavuot. The shift emphasizes the end of the first year rather than the beginning--our students and parents have a much stronger sense of the event. Second, our Confirmands bless the Consecrants--a beautiful moment and reminder of the continuity of learning. Elyse
Sept 2007 Digest 179
We do hold consecration on Chanukah and it's been wonderfully successful. We've actually had families postpone vacations and trips so that they could celebrate with their children's classmates and families. We find that waiting the couple of extra months gives the students more time to really know the Shma (complete with hand motions), learn some songs and get to feel comfortable on the bimah.
I too feel that what matters is what works for your congregation. We have big Simchat Torah and Chanukah celebrations, so what has become important for us is the comfort level of our students.
Elizabeth 260 families
Sept 2007 Digest 179
We traditionally hold Consecration during Sukkot. With a sukkah on the bimah (we have another outside), the visual adds another beautiful dimension to the service. It is often, though not always, linked to our Simchat Torah celebration.
More importantly, we have a special session with parents of new students a week or two prior to the service. In part, the session is one where parents create a gift for their child--a Sh'ma pillowcase--but more importantly, it is a chance for us to do some text study together and to discuss the role that they, as parents of Jewish children, play in the development of their child's making Jewish learning truly Jewish living . Iris
Sept 2007 Digest 181 There is an old Yiddish tradition that one should not combine simchas. Fitting consecration into other holiday observances violates that concept, and I would vote against it whether it was done on Sukkot, Simchat Torah or Hanukkah on that basis alone. The consecration ceremony may be an important new life-cycle event for our religious school families--so keep it at religious school as part of the school assembly. If we want to encourage attendance at our holiday services, make that attendance a mandatory part of the curriculum and even tie it to the criteria for observing a bar or bat mitzvah. But, I think you attract more service attendance with honey than with sticks, so selling attendance to parents and students on the basis of a meaningful (and appetizing?) celebration is more likely to be successful and habit-forming than combining two unrelated observances and watering down one or both. Saul
Sept 2007 Digest 181
[Our congregation] has celebrated Consecration during Chanukah for about ten years now. What I find interesting about the connection is not only that we "dedicate" our students, but also that the Hebrew roots for Chanukah and "education -chinuch" are one and the same!
the idea of Consecration is not far removed from the shtetl tradition of pouring honey on a child's slate (or dropping candy on the book or baking cookies in the shape of a book) on his (yes, his) first day of cheder
Janice 1150 Families
Sept 2007 Digest 181
I believe that it is not misplaced to hold consecration during a congregational worship service. We are all responsible for the Jewish education of the children in our respective Jewish communities or congregations. For as long as there has been identifiable Judaism, or at least dating back to the incorporation of the V'ahavta into our liturgy, there has been not only a general recognition of the obligation to teach our following generations, but a celebration of teaching our children.
The dictionary defines the verb to consecrate as "to devote or dedicate to some purpose." In my view, within the context of our discussion, our Consecration service serves to consecrate our children to the purpose of their Jewish education, and it serves to devote the rest of us to our obligation of ensuring that our (meaning us as a community, beyond the reaches of our immediate families) children are provided with a proper Jewish education. The dictionary also defines consecrate as "to make or declare sacred." Surely, the start of a child's Jewish education marks the beginning of something sacred.
As such, I think that it is not only not improper to celebrate Consecration within a congregational worship service, but it is most decidedly appropriate to welcome our children into the fold of lifelong Jewish education and learning in that context.
As an aside, I tend to agree with others that have expressed the opinion that it is best not coincident with a festival service.
From a practical standpoint, yes, the Consecration service at our synagogue (which occurs on a Friday night following the High Holy Days, but not coincident with Sukkot, Simchat Torah, or any other festival), is mayhem. It is loud, often frenetic, chaotic, and in tenor different from most Erev Shabbat services, but one that I enjoy, because it is into the eyes of our future that we get to gaze on that night, and it is absolutely worth celebrating as a community .
John ~1200 units
Sept 2007 Digest 181 [The consecration ceremony] is not like a play or a dance recital. It is a sacred part of a child's Jewish education, and should be part of the religious service of the congregation. Temples have all kinds of happenings as part of an Erev Shabbat service--Sisterhood installation, New Member recognition, Teacher recognition, College Student recognition, Volunteer of the Year recognition, Birthday and Anniversary recognition. Why, then, should a life cycle event for our young people not be part of an Erev Shabbat service. Glorya
Sept 2007 Digest 181 Why is it offensive to welcome (and yes, pray for) new students as a united community? We see here how people bemoan the lack of attendance in the synagogue, and the lack of participation by the membership. How do you expect anyone other than the parents of the students to show up if consecration is moved to some non-service time? What does that say to the families, to the students, about community? About who is invested in their education?... Don