Yes, I cried when I heard these two teens speak confirming their Judaism! They are members of the confirmation class, teens who continue their formal Jewish education past B'nai Mitzvah. How can we not have hope for our world, hope for Judaism, when young people such as Jacob and Benjamin are our next generation! Read on and I know you will agree! Cantor Lee
By Jacob Pasternack, Yaakov Shlomo
Today, I, Yaakov Shlomo, confirm my Judaism. On one Wednesday a month I would come to Logger's Run to talk with the Rabbi, and occasionally a few other people, to discuss various aspects of the Jewish religion. The confirmation classes themselves would take place in a room that is at the end of the chain of three rooms used by the congregation, which was almost set up. Walking in the building and following the Rabbi to the secluded classroom gave me the opportunity to view each step of my Jewish education.
In the first room, young Jewish children would be learning the basics of Hebrew, and for their successes, a shekel was rewarded for the famous all-famous Shirat Shalom Shekel Shop by Rabbi David or Ms. Susan.
In the second room, older children, those who's Bar or Bat-Mitzvah's were just around the corner, were studying vigorously with Cantor Lee or Rabbi David, yet could never miss a little break for some challah.
The third and final room consisted of a minimum of four things, myself, the Rabbi, and two chairs, with slight variations week to week. And just because it is the final room, doesn't signify the end of my Jewish life. Now, with the help of my formal Jewish education, I get to live and experience Judaism in the real world, weaving it into the essence of who I am as a person.
Now, because it is Florida, the temperature is usually sweltering outside, so Loggers' Run has generously implanted the frigid temperatures of the Arctic into their air conditioning system. Yet, the funniest thing was that I never felt cold. While many of the young children would come in with light jackets, I was perfectly comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts. Yet it didn't occur to me why this was so until my last confirmation class.
I was surrounded by warmth. Not in the literal sense, but in the emotional, spiritual sense. The warmth was unique, the warmth came from the Light that Cantor Lee has preached about for the past decade or so of my Jewish education. The warmth of this Light comes from the tight bond between the whole congregation. Stepping back, I now realize that for two-thirds of my life, these same familiar faces have consistently come back week to week, month to month, year to year.
The warmth is the Light sent by the children each Wednesday, praying for those in need. The warmth is the singing of the aleph bet, the melody or holiday songs, the telling of Jewish stories, and the smiles of the children who are in all of their glory in the all-famous Shirat Shalom shekel Shop.
The warmth is the tight knit bond between our congregation and all Jews. The warmth isn't just there because we're in the same building or, or same county, state or country, because during the long Jewish Diaspora, we didn't have that privilege. The warmth that I felt, that we all feel, is the family bond we have. It's the idea that no matter where you are, no matter how few Jews there are on the Earth, there will always be one of us around the corner, welcoming you with a smile, gefilte fish and, of course, a shekel to redeem something at the all-famous Shirat Shalom Shekel Shop.
The warmth I felt, is Judaism. Judaism is more than a term, it is more than a religion, and it is more than a culture. Judaism is a family. That, is what Judaism means to me.
By Benjamin Venegas, Raphael Kalman
Today, I Raphael Kalman confirm my Judaism. Remembering what occurred in the past, not only during WWII but throughout time, helps us to be strong as a people and for our generation to have a say and not to allow such horrors to happen again. I read and watch the news daily and the societies of not only our nation but globally are scary without tolerance of others. It is unbelievable to see how gullible and uneducated other people can be and behave with such hate toward others with not only words but with aggression. We need to stand together as a people and condemn this treatment.
Although Judaism is observed in my home, it is the dedication of the people in my life like Rabbi David, Cantor Lee and Miss Susan that need to be commended for my philosophy of Jewish Beliefs. From the beginning of my formal training of the Torah and even now after I’ve become a Bar Mitzvah I have looked forward to our meeting and life’s lessons. They have been more than teachers for me and my family. I can honestly say that they have helped shape my understanding of right and all the wrongs in this world. It is right to be respected for who and what I am; a strong Jewish man.
I would like to read this remarkable quote by Leo Tolstoy:
“What is the Jew?...What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?!
The Jew - is the symbol of eternity. ... He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear.
The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.”
- Leo Tolstoy