Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Confirmation Speeches 2012

Rebecca Levinstein
  Give an example of something in the past that helped you stay Jewish.
Something from the past that has helped me stay Jewish was learning from my parents how important being Jewish is. My Dad grew up in a Jewish home and had his Bar Mitzvah when he was 13. It was in an Orthodox Synagogue, so the men sat down stairs and the women sat upstairs in the balcony. My Mom, on the other hand, had her Bat mitzvah when she was 32. She was raised Protestant and converted to Judaism. She made her Bat Mitzvah when she was 9 months pregnant with my sister, Aliya. According to her, this was not an easy task. Their upbringings taught me how dedicated my parents are to give my sister, brothers, and I a strong, Jewish upbringing.
Give an example of how you will live a Jewish life in the future.
          An example of how I will live a Jewish life is continuing Jewish traditions that I have experienced growing up in my home, from going to Friday night services, to having special holiday dinners.  I hope to one day be making the recipes my mom made, keeping kosher, teaching my children these traditions, and having them pass down the traditions to their children. I will tell them about NFTY and all of the wonderful times they will have and the wonderful friends they will make.

Rebecca Levinstein                                                                        Confirmation Speech
            There are many times in my life that I thought about not coming to religious school anymore because, to be honest, I thought it was a waste of my time. But with a little bit of convincing from my parents, and my sister telling me how much better it will get, I decided to continue coming. And today, looking back, I am so glad that I made the right decision to stay. I have learned so much about Judaism in religious school, from learning about the history of Israel, to learning how important being Jewish is. And if I stopped attending religious school, then I would just be throwing away all the information that I have learned.
I have made so many amazing, new friends in NFTY that I would not trade for the anything in the world. I love going to NFTY events and knowing that I will always have someone to talk to on the bus ride. Between family, friends, NFTY, NewTY, and the Jewish community, I can’t go more than one day without hearing someone say something about the temple, or the youth group which might sound like it’s a bad thing, but it’s really not. I love hearing people from our congregation talking about Torah study and friends in NewTY talk about how excited they are for the next NFTY event.
Everyone from the Jewish community means so much to me and they all hold a special place in my heart. I cannot imagine how my life would be without having Judaism in it.
I would like to thank Cantor Anna for helping me prepare for reading my Torah portion. Thank you to Deborah Freedman for being such a great youth group advisor. Without her, I would not have NewTY and NFTY in my life. Thank you to Rabbi Freedman for believing in me and yelling at me to talk louder in class. But mostly telling Lindsay, Hannah, Adam, and Lev to be quiet so I can answer your questions. Thank you to my class. We started off with about 12 people, but we are the remaining five who have taken Judaism into our hearts forever. We will always have a special bond. Lastly, I want to thank my wonderful family for loving and supporting me in everything I do.

Adam Seidman
Confirmation Speech                                     
          I intend to remain and practice Judaism in the future and for the rest of my life. It has helped me so much already in situations in the past that I cannot just give that up. One example is when my grandfather died.  I did not know what to do.  I didn’t know what was appropriate and what was not or what to say and not to say. Judaism helped me distinguish what was right and wrong. Whether through morals and ethics or just plain “what should I do,” Jewish teachings haven’t steered me wrong. Being Jewish is important to me. It has taught me so much like the origin of my ancestry and how ancient Judaism evolved to modern Judaism.
I intend to keep learning, and utilize the knowledge that Judaism and the Torah has to offer me. I hope my future kids and even their kids will be Jewish and use it just as I have. I intend to do this by passing on everything about Judaism I know to my children and try to inspire them to want to be Jewish just as my Dad did for me.
Both my parents were so encouraging and I wouldn’t have made it this far without them.  I want my kids to be as proud of being Jewish as I am:  proud enough that they will past it on to their kids and so on and so on.

Hanna Gross
For our confirmation speeches, the rabbi gave us six questions and told us to answer three. Being the talkative person that I am, I couldn't choose just three so I did four. Then after revising my answers at least three times, I had to choose just one of my answers to read tonight. I still couldn't choose. So I thought of what I was going to say one night when I couldn't sleep.
I thought... What does Judaism mean to me? Judaism is my life and is a big part of who I am today and every day of my life. Judaism is what defines me and what my life is about. A majority of my decisions and actions are based on my Jewish values. As you all definitely know by now, my father has an extensive knowledge of Jewish history and the land of Israel. That means that every time I'm assigned a project on my choice of area or country to research, I know I've got this one in the bag. Faced with having to create a revolution in Global Studies, I obviously chose to re-create the destruction of the second Temple in chocolate: cake and all.
As I made my chocolate cake Temple presentation in class, we began to chat about the McDonalds in Israel that my family visited. The girl who sits in front of me then turned me and said, “But, like, don't Jews, like *hair flip*, not believe in fast food?" Confronted with this question, which could be depicted as the definition of pure ignorance, I faced it head on, seeing it as an opportunity to educate someone else on our religion, our customs and our culture. I see Judaism as not only a teaching experience, but as a learning experience. Right after my bat mitzvah, my family and I took an 18 day trip to Israel where I experienced the beauty of the land of my ancestors. Going to Israel really helped me to realize and understand the true meanings of our religion and of our history. In the future I plan to raise my children in a Jewish household and to instill in them the same Jewish values that I believe it today. It is so important to me to carry on the traditions of our family. I know that all families have wonderful holiday memories, but I couldn't imagine my life without the traditions we have in our family. Our animated seders every year (by far my favorite one was when we were able to really have lice at our table), our Hanukkah song sessions with the Gross’ when we light enough menorahs to light up the entire neighborhood, and being able to share the simchas of bar and bat mitzvahs with all of our cousins. I feel like Judaism is more than just my religion. It is about my traditions, my heritage, it is my blood and I want to carry it on because I'm proud of it. Lastly, I want to thank my confirmation class. Although there are only half as many people as when we started, back when we were younger, were still just as powerful. There is no other group of people I would have rather taken this journey with.
Do you intend to continue to be Jewish?
It is important for me to continue being Jewish, because my life wouldn’t be the same without it. I wouldn’t be able to live a full life without that part of me. I can’t wait to walk to temple each Tuesday to be with my Jewish friends. I look forward to being there on Sundays so that I can enjoy the laughter of the little kids as they learn about being Jewish. I love that when I do a special Mitzvah I know that I am doing it because I am supposed to and not because I get accolades. But my favorite part of being at temple is knowing that I have an extended family of people who love and care for me and that I know I can trust and depend on. Judaism is interesting, fun and most of all it makes me unique and different from others. 
Give an example of something in the past that helped you stay Jewish.
Right after my Bat Mitzvah my family and I took an 18 day trip to Israel where I experienced the beauty of the land of my ancestors. Going to Israel really helped me realize the great joy of being Jewish and it really helped me to understand the true meanings of our religion and our history. I remember being at the Western Wall and thinking, “Wow, I am really here!” I know that everyone says that they want to go to Israel but until you are actually there you do not even realize the importance of that connection. I know I am a Jew and I am proud of it, but now that I have been to Israel I feel more connected than I ever did. I am proud to be able to tell people that I have been there and about our experiences. Eating lunch in McDonalds in Israel is something fun to talk about but when you tell people that you floated in the Dead Sea or that you watched the sunset in Jaffa they are so intrigued and want to hear more. Lighting candles on Shabbat in Israel is the greatest feeling because you really feel the spirituality of being Jewish and being in Israel especially when you look out the window and see the entire town quiet because you know that everyone is celebrating Shabbat.  

Lindsay Johnson:
Question:  Do you intend to continue to be Jewish?  Why is that important to you?
Yes I do intend to continue to be Jewish after this year. It’s important to me because I want my children, when I have them, to keep the tradition alive because it's a big part of my life and I want it to be a big part of their lives. I have gotten the chance to be part of a youth group and I can not tell you how many friends I’ve made by going on all these trips. I’ve made so many friends through NFTY-GER.
I have to say that all the things that I’ve gone to in to in the past two years have changed me completely in the way I look at things and how I act towards people.  It really makes me think about my future. I want my children to come up to me one day and say thank you and right then and there I’ll know it’s because I made them go to temple.  It has really changed me and I want them to experience what I’ve experienced in the past couple of years with youth group and everyone that I've met and talked to. For me it has been so exciting to go back to each event.
I’m going to have to say John Ross has made one of the biggest impacts in my life.  He’s one of the first people I met at new member kallah last year when I was a freshman and he’s put a smile on my face. When I first met him we had to find a partner to play the game peg.  We had to find a horse or rider and he was the first person I saw so I went straight to him. From then on out he has acted like a big brother to me.
My life would be totally different if I stopped going to temple and religious school because you can learn so much in a few years and make new friends.  I intend to keep moving forward and keep going to temple because of the fact I want to and its a huge part of my life.

Question:  When thinking about my Judaism, how am I different now then when I became Bar Mitzvah?
When I look back and think about it, I was learning a lot more back then although we didn’t really learn about our history as much as we learned our Hebrew and Torah portions. But after that 8th grade 9th grade we learned about how much effort and power and strength we had as a whole to fight for our rights.
Did you know that on May 14, 1948 Israel gained independence and became a nation and was recognized by the United Nations? Yeah, crazy, I know. Well its one thing to hear about it but, it’s another to learn the history behind it, how much we had fought to create Israel and still keep our identity as a Jews.  How amazing is that?

Question:  Give an example of something in the past that helped you stay Jewish.
Something that’s really helped me stay Jewish in the past is my family. They are very Jewish.  They celebrate all of the Jewish holidays. I know that on the holidays we always go over to my aunt Aileen’s and Uncle David’s for dinner. We do the services there and we always have a great time. The women cook while the men set the table.  It’s like a family reunion and they’re a big part in my life. They have also always been there for me when I need them and the fact that they’re Jewish and religious keeps it going in my whole family. My family is a big part of me.  We all live in the same state except my grandparents and I call them usually when ever I need something. Because, as my family always says, “I’m always just a phone call away.”  I don’t know what I’d do with out them because they have been there for me since day one.

Lev Freedman
Question:  Do you intend to continue to be Jewish?  Why is that important to you?

Throughout my relatively short life, I have been raised on Judaism.  People always ask me what it’s like being the rabbi’s son.  Kids at school immediately assume that I’m an ultra-orthodox Chasid and so do the ultra-orthodox Chasids.  So it makes me wonder if I was “meant” to be Jewish, but that’s not why I will continue my Judaism.  No.  I intend to continue to be Jewish for a number of reasons.  Judaism has always been a huge part of my family ever since Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh.  At every temple we have been to, we have found friends and wonderful people to associate with.  In this way, Judaism has provided a second home, a place to have fun or be serious, a place to sing, to dance, to go to bar mitzvahs, great times, great stories, and something to believe in.  Judaism has let me be a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than my school; in company over 15 million strong, and yet still so unique.  Judaism has let me be different, stand out, even if I get asked if I “speak Jewish” about twice a day. 
            Being Jewish has also led to the greatest times of my life.  Places like Crane Lake Camp and NFTY have allowed me to have fun and be myself, and make lifelong friends.  These are things I want my children and grandchildren to experience, so that they can have the time of their lives, be unique, and be a part of something special. 
            So, I will be marrying a nice Jewish girl because carrying on this religion and these traditions to the next generation is important to me.  And maybe it was just luck that being Jewish led to meet so many awesome people but I don’t think so.  Without Judaism, I wouldn’t be who I am today. 

Question:  Give an example of something in the past that helped you stay Jewish. 
After my “SpongeBob: The Movie” soundtrack would end, I would slip in a Dan Nichols CD as I prepared for bed.  The 8-year-old me may not have known exactly what Mr. Nichols was saying, but he knew that he loved it.  He knew it was Judaism and its message was symbolic of its ways.  The 8-year-old me heard this kind of music as a modern, clear, and understandable form of Judaism; something he could love and feel.  And as the 8-year-old grew into who he is today, he saw the music follow him.  It followed me to NFTY and temple and camp and life and it let me be crazy and fun and me.  It let me connect with the people around me and sing louder than ever.  So music helped me stay Jewish because it showed me that Judaism is fun and loving and hateless. 
The Reform movement is convenient: it fits into my life and is there when I need it.  And without music, I would not be so inspired by what Judaism can do for me and what it has done. 

Question: Growing up Jewish in my school how did I keep my identity?    
Fourth grade brought a lot of new experiences for me.  I began to believe that high socks were too nerdy, among other things, and started to become a different person.  When my family and I moved to Newton, I began listening to rap, sagging my pants and I really only cared about being cool.  When my fellow 5th graders at Angier Elementary would ask me if I was Jewish, I would respond with a hesitant “no”.  You could blame it on immaturity but my reluctance to be different, to show who I really was, was a terrible thing.  Being Jewish was different and the different kids were weird.  With time I’ve learned to embrace Judaism as something that is as much a part of me as my own skin.  However, the choices I made, which often included abandoning my true friends for the cool kids, (oddly similar to the musical “13”), were each individual stops to a loss of identity.  Thanks to camp, NFTY, and my older brother, I was shown that being different is okay, and being myself is valuable.