The following are thoughts from one of our 2011 Confirmands, Matthew Hacker-Teper. We are proud of the accomplishments of the entire class and look forward to all of their continued participation in our Religious School.
Rabbis, Teachers, Friends, and Family,
My name is Matt Hacker Teper and I have been asked to say a few words about becoming a Confirmand and what it means to me.
I started my Hebrew school career at the JCC when I was 6 years old. I am the youngest of three children and, when my sister Robin was getting close to her Bat-Mitzvah, my parents switched me, Robin, and my brother Sean here to Holy Blossom. I was 8 years old at the time. I think that if you had asked any of us then (maybe even including my parents) we would have said that we would go to Hebrew school until our B’nei Mitvah and that would be plenty.
But then Robin had her Bat Mitzvah and my parents talked to her about continuing on. Robin had made some good friends in Hebrew school here at Holy Blossom and it seemed a shame to stop seeing them on a weekly basis. They told her that it would be fun way to stay connected to her community since she was going to a school with a strong non-Jewish tradition. It all made sense to me but then again I was only 9 and, well, I still liked my parents.
Robin’s experience at Holy Blossom post-Bat Mitzvah was eye-opening for all of us. She was having a lot of fun and she looked forward to coming every week. She loved seeing her friends and there were some interesting outings. Sometimes she had too much homework to go, but she attended when she could, and was always welcomed back.
And so, 2 years later, after his Bar Mitzvah, my brother Sean also decided to continue on. He too loved the post-Bar Mitzvah experience.
So it became a bit of a foregone conclusion that I too would continue on after my Bar Mitzvah… that’s what happens when you are third… your options kind of disappear. But, somehow, I too have loved the past three years here at Holy Blossom. The friends I met before my Bar Mitzvah have become even better friends and I have looked forward to connecting with them every week.
When I had my Bar Mitzvah here at the shul, it was certainly an important time for me and my family. I understood then, as I do now, that being a Bar Mitzvah is an important responsibility and that it was the time when I stood before my family, friends and community and accepted the duties of being an adult Jew. But, in many ways, becoming a Bar Mitzvah was more about my parents than me. I think that is probably natural. I was only 13.
Confirmation is not as solemn an occasion as Bar Mitzvah. But, in some ways, it means even more. Maybe it is just that I am older and more able to appreciate these things. But I have benefitted a great deal from the last 3 years in a way that I cannot remember benefiting in the years before. We have talked about important issues, for Jews here in Canada and in Israel and around the world. We have heard interesting speakers and challenged ourselves with difficult problems. We have talked about the Holocaust. The Rabbis have talked to us about different aspects of Jewish life. We have talked about how ancient scriptures can be applied to modern day situations. We have done all of this in an environment of friendship and support. Through this time and this process, I have learned and grown as a Jew and as a young adult. I too have been at a high school with non-Jewish tradition and I believe that my continued involvement at Holy Blossom has sustained me in ways that have made me a more complete person.
As a Confirmand, I feel more ready now, than I did at 13, to accept my role as an adult Jew in my community.
I will miss coming here on Monday nights. To the younger members of the group here tonight, I encourage you to continue on at Holy Blossom Hebrew School after your Bar Mitzvah. It will mean more to you than you will expect.