In Her Own Words: A Confirmand's Synagogue Story
Throughout my years at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA, I have developed relationships with a variety of people in our temple community. When I was in fourth grade, I joined the temple youth choir and sang at every family service at the beginning of each month. I learned songs in Hebrew and strengthened my bond with friends and other members of the temple community. These services were where I gained much of my Jewish education. After hearing the prayers so many times I started to pick them up, and even though I sometimes chatted with friends, I knew what was going on. Toward the end of the service, one of the rabbis would share a short story that involved Jewish morals. Listening to these stories were fun because they usually had some humor, but reflecting, I realize it was the start of educating us about Jewish values. It also strengthened my value of celebrating Shabbat every week.
I have also consistently enjoyed participating in the small activities in our temple community. I’ve helped the brotherhood set up the sukkah and talked with people at the blood drive; I used to come early to Hebrew school on Sunday mornings just to chat with Nate in the religious school office, and I always ask my dad about how things are going with the new building plans after a Mikdash committee meeting. Every time I come to temple, I meet more and more people who introduce me to more and more connections, thoughts, ideas - and even secret light switches in the bathroom! All of these activities have helped me to create my own unique connection with the temple and what it means to me.
My bat mitzvah portion was the Holiness Code, another set of Jewish values from the book of Leviticus. Becoming a bat mitzvah made me realize that the temple started as a place I went to Hebrew school and sometimes services, and over time, I formed my own relationships and reasoning for what Temple Beth Shalom means to me. I gained all of my knowledge for my bat mitzvah from studying Torah in the community and from my Dad and his experiences. I waited a long time for my bat mitzvah, and it was even better than I expected. When my parents asked my brother and me if we had had fun at the party that night, we looked at each other and agreed that we had much more fun leading the service than we did doing anything else that weekend. The support and education that we received over the years was part of the reason that our service was so meaningful.
Confirmation class has been the formalization of what has been expressed to me through my time at temple. Only now have I realized what I’ve learned over the years and the role of the Ten Commandments in our temple community. The Ten Commandments don’t help shape me solely based on a simple reading of them, but rather because of how they are expressed in the values of our community. I have taken in others’ interpretations and made them my own by participating in our temple community. By celebrating Shabbat and studying Torah within the community, I have made the commandments and Judaism my own.
Talia S. is a member of and a recent confirmand at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA.