וְחַ֤ג שָׁבֻעֹת֙ תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה לְךָ֔ בִּכּוּרֵ֖י קְצִ֣יר חִטִּ֑ים וְחַג֙ הָֽאָסִ֔יף תְּקוּפַ֖ת הַשָּׁנָֽה
You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the first fruits of the wheat harvest; and the Feast of In Gathering at the turn of the year. – Exodus 34:32
Our tradition teaches us that the holiday of Shavuot – the Feast of Weeks, which occurs 49 days after the beginning of Passover recounts the culmination of the journey the Israelites took from servitude to Pharaoh to their acceptance of Torah. That journey…those 49 days…marks one of the greatest advances our ancestors experienced…from the lowest of lows in Egypt to the highest of highs of Torah on Sinai.
Saturday June 8, 7:00 PM Shavuot/Confirmation
Sunday June 9, 11:00 AM Shavuot Festival Service and Yizkor
If you are planning to attend services on Sunday and would like to request that a name be read during the memorial portion of the service, please email email@example.com.
And it is on this holy day that Reform Judaism assigned the celebration of Confirmation. As some of you may know, Confirmation was borrowed by the early Reformers in Germany, in 1810, from Protestant Christianity as a way of instituting a communal celebration for our emerging young adults and future Jewish leaders. Some communities over time even favored Confirmation to Bar and Bat Mitzvah which experienced a great decline in Reform Judaism in the first half of the 20th century. But today at Bet Shalom we believe both are important rites of passage.
As a 13 year old crosses the threshold of Jewish adulthood in becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, they publicly declare that Judaism and the Jewish Community is important to them. It is a magical moment in the life of the synagogue and our families…but there is no magic involved. A youngster works hard to demonstrate that they have begun to assimilate Jewish life skills that assure us that they will be prepared to take the mantle of Jewish responsibility from those that came before them, care for it, and pass it on to the generation that follows – their own children. This is symbolized so powerfully as we pass the Torah through all the living generations of a family to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah as they formally take their place as a link in the chain connecting all future generations back to Moses on Mount Sinai.
But it doesn’t end there. If it does, that chain of connection has been diminished. And this is the reason we have so much to celebrate on Shavuot…that another generation of young people have hung on and continued to learn Torah and to participate in our congregation. In high school Judaism can be studied in a very adult way and as our students grow and develop we have the opportunity to help them evolve their beliefs and practices in ways appropriate for adults. We cherish this experience as rabbis and know our students do too.
Studying Torah is a lifelong adventure, in some ways we never actually reach the top of the mountain, but we do pause from time to time to celebrate important moments in the Jewish Life Cycle…and Confirmation is one of those moments.
Confirmation will take place in our sanctuary on Erev Shavuot, Saturday night, June 8 at 7:00 PM. All are welcome to celebrate our Confirmation Class member as they reenact the receiving of Torah.
The Torah is waiting for you. Not just to study it. Not just to know it. To live it. This poem, Let Torah, is by Alden Solovy. CLICK HERE for more information.
Let Torah hold your moments
Carry your days,
Lift your years.
Let Torah fill your hands,
Nourish your breath,
Refresh your heart.
Let Torah sustain your words,
Enliven your deeds
Lead you home.
For Torah is in each life and each generation,
In the yearning for G-d and in G-d’s yearning for us,
The flow of secrets from Sinai,
Divine guidance and grace,
Calling out to you dear sisters and brothers:
‘Awake you slumberers!
Awake you who wander empty and lonely without wonder and awe.
Have you forgotten this precious gift?
Have you forsaken your past and your future?
Have you traded your birthright for empty promises?’
This, then, is G-d’s command:
Let Torah hold you,
Let Torah guide you into radiance and mystery.
Study and learn,
Question and seek,
Hear and grow,
Lifting your life in sacred service.
Let Torah be your breath and your heartbeat.
Blessed are You, Source of Torah.
© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.