Graduating seniors standing behind fifth graders as they pass candles down to the younger class

As our seniors said goodbye to their current relationship with the community, they inspired our fifth graders to say hello to their new relationship and leadership in the community. 

Becky Oliver

Do you ever wonder why almost all Jews celebrate Passover but when it comes to Shavuot, the numbers are usually meager? Is it because Passover is all about freedom while Shavuot is about responsibility? Or is it because the creatively elastic ritual called seder takes place at home while the more conventional Shavuot is synagogue-based?  Or maybe it’s that Pesach focuses a lot of attention on young children? The first ritual act our little ones perform is to ask questions of their elders and then later we count on their sense of the possible as they open the door, believing that Elijah might in fact be there. For too many, bar and bat mitzvah lead to a modern day exodus as young people take their leave of formal Jewish learning before they’ve even had a chance to swim in the proverbial “deep water” of the Jewish tradition.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Every week I look for the “That Should Be a Word” column in The One-Page Magazine in the Sunday New York Times. The column, if you can call it that, has an amazing knack for coining a good neologism – a new word or phrase. The humor, smarts, and creativity of the words inspired me to create my own neologism – “congfirmation” (pronounced cong-fir-may-shun).

Let me explain.

I recently had the honor and pleasure to witness my youngest child affirm his faith as part of the confirmation process at our synagogue, Temple Ner Tamid of Bloomfield, N.J. After a year of study with our rabbi, each of the 14 students shared why Judaism was important to them and then publicly affirmed their faith in front of the entire congregation. I started to wonder: “Why, if they are affirming their faith, do we not call the process ‘affirmation’ instead of ‘confirmation’?” Then I asked myself the differences between the two.