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10th GRADE CONFIRMATION CURRICULUM - dreskin.us

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10th GRADE CONFIRMATION CURRICULUM - dreskin.us Powered By Docstoc
					                                 Confirmation Curriculum:
      “GOD, TORAH AND ISRAEL: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”
                                    Rabbi William Dreskin
                                    Cantor Ellen Dreskin
                                   Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


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“Why Be Jewish? All The Questions You Never Thought We’d Let You Ask!”

This is it! For a year, you will have a rabbi, cantor, and rabbinic intern all to yourselves. So
ask away, and don’t hold back! Rabbi Billy Dreskin intends to explore the meaning of your
being Jewish. Should you belong to a synagogue? Should you go to religious school? Should
you believe in God? Don’t be bashful; let them know what’s on your mind. But watch out.
You may find your opinions changing. See you there!
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


INTRODUCTORY PROGRAM 1 – WHAT IS RELIGION?
Objectives:
☎ To compare and contrast the major religions of the world.
☎ To consider why people are religious: religions provide a perspective on human existence,
and help us to find our place in the world).
☎ To understand that this year’s Confirmation Program will consider the role that religion
(more specifically, Judaism) will in each of our lives.

Materials needed:
☎ Slide projector.
☎ 2 carousel slide trays of world religion photographs.
☎ Screen.
☎ 2 audiocassette players.
☎ Extension cord(s).
☎ Cube tap(s) -- to plug more than one component into outlet.
☎ Chalkboard, chalk and eraser.
☎ Masking tape.
☎ Columned “Religion Chart” for religion discussion: column 1 = Judaism, column 2 =
Christianity, column 3 = Islam, row 1 = God, row 2 = Central Prayer, row 3 = Sacred Text, row 4
= Life-Markers, row 5 = Holidays, row 6 = Sacred Building, row 7 = Leader(s), row 8 = Sacred
Symbols, row 9 = Customs & Garb, row 10 = Sacred Places, row 11 = Sacred Language.
☎ Paper and pens/pencils for religion design.
☎ Flashlight!
☎ Script(s).
☎ Brownie supplies (per group): box of brownie mix, eggs, mixing spoon, mixing bowl,
disposable aluminum pan, pre-measured container of cooking oil, pre-measure container of
water.

To run multimedia by yourself:
✇ 2 music stands to hold scripts: Jud, Xian and Islam (no Buddhism).
✇ Cassettes on either side of slide projector.
✇ Read a paragraph at a time from each essay, preceding it (each and every time) with the
name of that religion. Following the paragraph, move to next religion. Cycle continues ad
nauseum.
✇ Trope tape.
✇ Beged Kefet, 4 Hebrew songs on side 2 are sufficient time.
Implementation:
Before dinner, students stand around tables (6-8 per table) on which have been placed the
ingredients for making brownies.

       Each student’s wrist is taped to the wrist of the person to the left and to the right (creating
       a locked circle of students around the table and ingredients).

       Following instructions on the box, each group prepares a batch of brownies (including, if
       you’re smart, cleanup). Note: If dinner is being served, this is best done prior to meal.
       It is also conceivable that this exercise be modified so there is no baking involved
       (perhaps, icing a small cake and decorating with some Jewish picture).

0:00   After dinner, students move to some completely darkened program space.

       Students are instructed to watch in silence, and to try and remember as many images and
       sounds for recall when the presentation is concluded.

       Multimedia presentation on the religions of the world. This should include as many
       media as possible (video, slides, film, audiotape, live readings, etc.) depicting various
       aspects of Judasim, Christianity, Islam and (optionally) Buddhism (and/or others). Note:
       To obtain video of a Catholic Mass, write Instructional Television, Archdiocese of New
       York, Communications Center, 215 Seminary Avenue, Yonkers, NY, 10704, and request
       to borrow (or purchase, I suppose) “Liberty Mass, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, July 3, 1986.”

0:15   Write the word “religion” on a blackboard.

       Ask the students to recall as many images and sounds from the presentation as they are
       able. Write these on the board.

0:25   Break into small groups.

       Using any of the items listed on the board, create a new religion. The only requirement
       is that your religion have a name. Write down the components (beliefs, rituals, clothing,
       etc) and prepare a 1-minute presentation of your religion to the rest of the class.

       Each group presents.

0:40   Discussion.

       ☎ What do religions have in common? God, Sacred Text, community values,
       community customs, life-markers, year-markers, etc.
       ☎ Why do you suppose religions have these things in common?
       ☎ What is a religion?
       ☎ Why do you think people are “religious”?
       Must make point: Religion is a framework for living, a perspective on human existence,
       helping us to find our place in the world.

1:10   Religion Chart.

       Have class work together to fill in as many blanks as they can in about 5 minutes.

       Concluding point: This is an overview of the world’s religions. This slice (point to
       Judaism column) is ours.

       This is not a course in symbols, ceremonies, etc. You’ve already had plenty of that.

       This year, we’ll be examining Judaism and asking some important questions. Does it do
       what it’s supposed to do? How does it do what it’s supposed to do? Does it indeed
       provide a perspective on human existence? Does it help us to find our place in the
       world? And what can this all mean for each of us?

1:25   Brownies.

1:30   End.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


INTRODUCTORY PROGRAM 2 – FINDING OUR PLACE IN THE CLASS

Objectives:
☎ To understand the process of each week’s Confirmation class. Namely, an interactive
experience which requires us to talk with each other, listen to each other, respect each other, and
reflect meaningfully on the evening’s topic in order to derive benefit from the experience.
☎ To understand that this process pertains both to our class’s exploration of Judaism, as well as
to our relationships with each other.

Materials needed:
☎ Hat or bag.
☎ “Essences” strips of paper.
☎ Chalkboard, chalk and eraser.
☎ Pads of paper.
☎ Pens/pencils.

Implementation:
0:00 In circle on floor.

       We concluded last week by suggesting that religion may exist to give us a perspective on
       human existence, to give us a sense of our place in the world. In order to begin this
       search for such a place, we each need to find our place in this class. In part, this means
       listening, reacting, respecting, and evaluating everything our teachers and our classmates
       throw our way.

       Much of each week’s session will involve exercises which might be termed “games.”
       Games can be played just for fun. But our goal is to make them meaningful, so that they
       can help us to grow toward a better understanding of ourselves, and of the topics being
       discussed. We can find reasons not to place these games, but the challenge is to find
       reasons to “buy into them.” Remember: The goal is to make them meaningful.

0:05   Around the circle: Share your name and something that makes you interesting to
       yourself.

0:15   Discussion.

       ☎ What happened during last week’s class?
       ☎ What was fun, interesting, or a turn-off about it?
       ☎ What answers did we find to the question, “What is the purpose of religion?” Hope,
       security, explain the unexplainable, perspective on living, helps us find our place in the
       world.

0:25   We now turn to a series of games designed to begin this process of reflection, evaluation,
       respect and growth. Remember: You can buy into them, or buy out of them.
       Ultimately, this is what will determine the success or failure of our Confirmation
       experience.

       “Essences.” While group sits in circle, pass around hat or bag containing strips of paper,
       each having one of the following questions written on it:

       ☎ If you were a time in history, what time would you be?
       ☎ If you were a moving vehicle, what vehicle would you be?
       ☎ If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
       ☎ If you were to go home this evening and find a magic box waiting for you, what one
       item would you find inside it?
       ☎ If you were a room in a house, what room would you be?
       ☎ If you were a place somewhere on earth, what place would you be?
       ☎ If you were a type of weather, what type would you be?
       ☎ If you were a household appliance, what appliance would you be?
       ☎ If you were a musical instrument, which would you be?
       ☎ If you were a box of cereal, what cereal would you be?
       ☎ If you were a piece of furniture, which would you be?
       ☎ If you were an article of clothing, which would you be?
       ☎ If you were a TV show, what show would you be?
       ☎ If you were a book or a movie, which would you be?

       Go around circle, each student answering the question without explanation. Go around a
       second time, each explaining his/her response (respectful questions and probing by class
       okay).

       Comment for one minute on the group’s process of this game, on group’s “buying in,”
       and on its possible meaningfulness.

0:50   Explain that class will now play another game. This time, with some Jewish content.
       The challenge remains the same: to buy into it, to try and make it meaningful.

       Have class endeavor to list Ten Commandments on chalkboard. Leader (or designated
       student) can write as class responds, or students can walk up and write when they think
       they’ve got one. You decide whether or not you want the Commandments in the correct
       order.

       1. I am Adonai, your God.
       2. You shall have no other gods.
       3. Do not take God’s name in vain.
       4. Observe Shabbat.
       5. Honor your parents.
       6. Do not murder.
       7. Do not commit adultery.
       8. Do not steal.
       9. Do not bear false witness.
       10. Do not covet.

       Distribute pens/pencils and pads of paper. Ask each student to write his/her own Ten
       Commandments ... “things you want to live by, and would want the world to live by.”
       Remind of importance of buying into the exercise in order to possibly benefit from it.

       Have students share their lists, allowing time for others to (respectfully) react, discuss,
       challenge.

1:15   Around the circle: What is your reaction to this evening’s program? What did you
       like?

       Conclude: Exercises such as these provide an opportunity to learn about ourselves in a
       way that might make a difference in our lives. Once again, however, it’s important to
       listen closely, question carefully (yet respectfully), and evaluate thoughtfully throughout
       the process.

       This year, Confirmation is doing this same thing to Judaism. If Judaism is to make a
       difference in our lives, we have to get into the habit of talking about it, listening to others
       when they talk about it, examining their (and our own) views, take a stand (if only
       momentarily), and make thoughtful choices. In each of this year’s units – God, Torah,
       and Israel – these opportunities will always be available. The choice, however, still
       remains with each one of us.

1:25   Next week, we’ll be deciding to what organizations our weekly Tzedakah collections will
       be donated at the end of the year: one to a Jewish cause, one to some cause in the wider
       community.

       Brainstorm a bit.

       Think about it during the next week. And come back prepared to make suggestions, and
       to support your suggestions.

1:30   End.
                                        ESSENCES


☎ If you were a time in history, what time would you be?


☎ If you were a moving vehicle, what vehicle would you be?


☎ If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?


☎ If you were to go home this evening and find a magic box waiting for you, what one item
would you find inside it?


☎ If you were a room in a house, what room would you be?


☎ If you were a place somewhere on earth, what place would you be?


☎ If you were a type of weather, what type would you be?


☎ If you were a household appliance, what appliance would you be?


☎ If you were a musical instrument, which would you be?


☎ If you were a box of cereal, what cereal would you be?


☎ If you were a piece of furniture, which would you be?


☎ If you were an article of clothing, which would you be?


☎ If you were a TV show, what show would you be?


☎ If you were a book or a movie, which would you be?
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


INTRODUCTORY PROGRAM 3 – THE TZEDAKAH DEBATE

Objectives:
☎ To decide where the year’s tzedakah contributions will be donated.
☎ To emphasize the importance of playing an active role in making tzedakah choices.
☎ To remind the students that tzedakah should continue not only after their earlier years of
religious school, but throughout their lives.

Materials needed:
☎ Tzedakah information sheets containing names, addresses and brief descriptions of
charitable organizations which serve both the Jewish community and the wider community.
☎ Chalkboard, chalk and eraser.
☎ “Tzedakah” text study sheets.

Implementation:
0:00 Explain: As different as the Confirmation experience may be from every other religious
      school year, there are a few things that will not change, that should not change. One of
      them is tzedakah. There are still needy people in the world; and those needy people
      still need people to lend a helping hand. The question is to whom are you and I
      responsible, and how much.

       Distribute “Tzedakah” text study sheets.

       Discuss one or more of the following in the time provided:
       ☎ Rabbi Elazar of Bartota said, “Give to God what is God’s, for all that you have is
       God’s.” (Avot 3:8)
       ☎ All Israel is responsible for one another. (Shavuot 39a)
       ☎ Even a poor person who receives tzedakah must give from what he/she receives.
       (Gittin 7b)
       ☎ One should give up to a fifth (20%) of one’s possessions – that is the mitzvah to an
       extraordinary degree. One tenth (10%) is an average percentage, and less is considered
       miserly. (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 249:1)

0:30   Distribute tzedakah information sheet.

       Students should individually spend ten minutes reading through the sheet, circling those
       causes they think they might like the class to choose.
0:45   Gather the students into several small groups (3-5 students each). These small groups
       should each devise a proposal consisting of: one organization serving the Jewish
       community, one serving the wider communit, and an amount for the class to set as its
       goal. They should be prepared to present and lobby their proposal to the entire class.

1:05   Entire class gathers. Presentations are made (no negative politicking permitted).
       Elimination votes are taken (using chalkboard for tallying), followed by final opinions
       and final vote.

       Ask for volunteers to create a class pushke (which clearly names the selected recipients
       and goal, with a small thermometer on the pushke to track progress).

1:30   End.
                                         TZEDAKAH


1. Rabbi Elazar of Bartota said, “Give to God what is God’s, for all that you have is God’s.”
(Avot 3:8)


2. All Israel is responsible for one another. (Shavuot 39a)


3. Even a poor person who receives tzedakah must give from what he/she receives. (Gittin 7b)


4. One should give up to a fifth (20%) of one’s possessions – that is the mitzvah to an
extraordinary degree. One tenth (10%) is an average percentage, and less is considered miserly.
(Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 249:1)
     SOME TZEDAKAH PROJECTS YOU MIGHT CONSIDER
  Please note: Checks should be made payable to the name inside the parentheses.
     Only when none is provided there should checks be written to the first name.
                       Some that are specifically Jewish ...




PROJECT EZRA (197 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002).
This organization is located on the Lower East Side of New York City. It helps older
Jewish people who want to stay in their own apartments but may not be able to shop for
themselves or get to important appointments with doctors, dentists and others. This is
the group that comes to visit Woodlands once or twice each year for an afternoon of
food, music and friendship.

THE MIRACULOUS MITZVAH HORSES OF ISRAEL (The Therapeutic Riding Club
of Israel, P.O. Box 3168, Bet Yehoshua, Israel).
Incredible riding programs for the disabled, people recovering from severe trauma,
elderly residents of old age homes, soldiers and civilians injured in war and terrorist
acts.

NORTH AMERICAN CONFERENCE OF ETHIOPIAN JEWRY (165 East 56th Street,
New York, NY 10022, 212-752-6340).
In 1985, thousands of Ethiopian Jews were secretly flown out of Ethiopia to safety in
Israel. Thousands of their relatives still remain in Ethiopia. Many are old. All are
oppressed. And all are hungry. They need to get to Israel and this organization saves
their lives and brings them into freedom. Once in Israel, NACOEJ helps to house
them, educate them, teach them job skills, and get them on their feet as they learn to
live in a new land. NACOEJ has an astonishing selection of items made by Ethiopian
Jews: challah and matzoh covers, tallit bags, and more. Buying and using their
products allows Ethiopian craftspersons to become self-supporting (the very highest
level of tzedakah!).

THE WONDER WOMAN OF JERUSALEM (Rabbanit Bracha Kapach, 12 Lod Street,
Jerusalem, Israel).
Hundreds of families and individuals benefit from the Rabbanit’s tzedakah work. She’s
best known for lending wedding dresses to brides who cannot afford to buy (or even
rent) their own. She also provides needy Jerusalemites with food for the week, special
supplies for Pesach, clothing, and summer camp for kids whose families can’t afford it.
More than any of this, she gives people dignity, a sense of well-being, and peace of
mind.

MAGEN DAVID ADOM (888 7th Avenue, Suite 403, New York, NY 10102-0009).
This is the “Red Cross” of Israel (they call if the “Red Star of David”). Magen David
Adom handles blood donation and distribution, as well as emergency medical services
and response to terrorist acts for all Israelis.

THE CHICKEN LADY OF JERUSALEM (Clara Hammer, Mishmar HaGvul 4, Ramat
Eshkol, Jerusalem, Israel).
Well past the age of 80, Clara provides Shabbat and holiday chickens (with the
trimmings ... and an alternate selection for vegetarians!) for more than 80 needy
families.

LEO BAECK EDUCATION CENTER (20 Edmond Fleg Street, French Carmel, Haifa
31062, Israel).
Most Jews (and most schools) in Israel are either Orthodox or teach no Judaism at all.
The Leo Baeck School is one of the few truly excellent schools that also teaches about
Reform Judaism, so that people can have more of a choice about how to be Jewish.
This is especially important because of the current battle in Israel for religious rights.
Leo Baeck also runs a program for teenage immigrants new to Israeli society.

UNITED JEWISH APPEAL (UJA-FEDERATION, 130 East 59th Street, New York, NY
10022).
UJA is a catch-all, do-everything, good-guy organization. They help Jewish families in
trouble, help find jobs and homes for those who can’t seem to do it on their own, help
immigrants and refugees all over the world, recently settling millions of Russian and
Ethiopian Jews in Israel and in America. They even collect holiday gifts from you and
me to distribute to kids who wouldn’t get any at Christmas and Chanukah time.

ETGARIM (donations to “PEF-Israel Endowments,” 317 Madison Avenue, #607,
New York, NY 10017, 212-599-1260, earmark “for Etgarim”).
“Etgarim” means “challenges.” And that’s what this amazing organization does. It
offers a variety of adventure and sports activities for individuals in Israel with disabilities:
sailing, water skiing, snow skiing, bicycling and more. They are always in need of
funds for new equipments and scholarships for people who’d like to participate but
money-issues prevent them from doing so.

THE JEWISH BRAILLE INSTITUTE OF AMERICA (110 East 30th Street, New York,
NY 10016).
The Jewish Braille Institute creates Jewish learning materials for the blind in braille and
on cassettes. Believing that everyone should be entitled to a quality Jewish education,
the Jewish Braille Institute does everything it can to put quality Jewish learning into the
lives of those who might otherwise not have any.

BAMBI OF JERUSALEM (Matan BeSeter B.A.M.B.I., 3 Azriel Street, Jerusalem,
Israel).
Rachel (Bamberger) Chalkovsky is the chief midwife at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in
Jerusalem. She has delivered close to 30,000 babies during her career. Her personal
tzedakah project involves reaching out to families that cannot afford pregnancy and
birthing services ... presently, 700 families!
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (42 East 69th Street, New York, NY 10021).
Originally established for the purpose of buying land in Palestine for Jewish settlement
before 1948, the Jewish National Fund remains dedicated to the development of land in
Israel, planting trees, irrigation projects (also done in cooperation with Israel’s Arab
neighbors) and keeping Israel beautiful.



And some that are specifically not Jewish ...




GREENPEACE (P.O. Box 3720, Washington, DC 20007).
Greenpeace works to protect our environment. They are involved in conservation and
animal protection. Recent projects include the protection of dolphins, seals, and the
entire continent of Antarctica!
THE SHOE WOMAN OF DENVER (Ranya Kelly, The Redistribution Center, 7736
Hoyt Circle, Arvada, CO 80005).
Since Ranya Kelly found 500 pairs of brand new shoes in a dumpster behind a shoe
store, she has gathered more than 286,000 pairs and given every one of them to a
person in need. She’s also supplying food, clothing, baby strollers and building
materials to the same crowd.

AMERICAN JEWISH WORLD SERVICE (1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York,
NY 10104).
AJWS has programs to help people in the impoverished nations of Africa, Asia and
Latin America. They also have emergency relief programs that help in the case of
natural disaster anywhere in the world.

THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY (Westchester Division, 30 Glenn Street, White
Plains, NY 10603).
This organization is devoted to research to find the cure for cancer that would save
millions and millions of lives.

THE POTATO PEOPLE (The Potato Project, State Route 615, P.O. Box 329, Big
Island, VA 24526).
Since 1984, the Potato People have saved 200 million(!) pounds of potatoes and other
produce from all over North America. They pass it all along to needy families that can
really make good use of it.

THE HUNGER FUND (Woodlands Community Temple, 50 Worthington Road,
White Plains, NY 10607).
Our own Temple has a fund that allows you to help fight hunger throughout the world.
The Hunger Fund has given money to soup kitchens and food pantries right here in the
New York area, and to organizations which feed people in poorer nations and teach
them how to grow food to feed themselves in the future.

SHORE (66 Fulton Street, White Plains, NY 10606).
“Sheltering the Homeless is our Responsibility” (SHORE). This shelter program in
White Plains for individuals and families who would otherwise have no place to live was
established with the help and inspiration of our own Woodlands Community Temple.

THE MITZVAH DOLPHINS (The Full Circle Program, Clearwater Marine Science
Center, 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, FL 34630).
Dolphins, a 300-pound sea turtle, and many others – all themselves disabled and
unable to return to their natural habitats – interact with disabled children, helping each
to improve some important skill that will benefit their lives.

MYRIAM’S DREAM (1500 Palisade Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ 07024).
Myriam Mendilow lived her life working to restore dignity to the lives of the elderly and
disabled, often forgotten by our communities. Myriam’s Dream, created in her
memory, funds projects across the entire world that share this same vision: Bring back
to the old and to the disabled the sense that life has purpose, that there is a reason for
being alive, and that even they have something to contribute to our world.

JACK DALY’S SPECIAL TOOLS AND TOYS (Case Engineering Support Group,
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 10900 Euclid Avenue,
Cleveland, OH 44106).
Prof. Jack Daly of Case Western Reserve University has encouraged a group of his
engineering students to adapt mechanical and electronic devices for people with
disabilities. From toys with special switches for children who have limited motor control
to cars that can be foot-controlled by people who lack the use of their arms, it’s the
perfect combination of brains, insight, decency, and enthusiasm for “doing the right
thing” (which we spell, tzedakah!).

A KIDS EXCHANGE (56 Midchester Avenue, White Plains, NY 10606).
“A KIDS” = Adoption, Knowledge, & Information on Down Syndrome. For the past 20
years, Janet Marchese has been “networking” with couples of newborn Down
Syndrome babies. Since she’s a longtime mom of a Down Syndrome kid, she helps
them to understand what life can be like with a Down Syndrome child. If the couple
decides to put the baby up for adoption, Janet has a waiting list of people who’d like to
do the adopting. In this way, she has found homes for more than 3600 babies! Janet
receives no salary for her work.

MAZON, A JEWISH RESPONSE TO HUNGER (12401 Wilshire Boulevard, #303,
Los Angeles, CA 90025).
Want to feed hungry people? So does everyone else who contributes to this incredible
organization. Jewish individuals, families and organizations – in honor of some
significant moment in their lives (like becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah) – make a gift to
MAZON. MAZON, in turn, finds the organizations around the country (and the world)
who are doing the very best job of getting food into needy people’s hands and
stomachs ... and in this way, turns our dollars into life-saving food.

TREVOR’S ENDEAVORS (Box 21, Gladwyne, PA 19035).
When Trevor Ferrell was your age, he saw a news report on TV about people in his
town who were living on the street. He went door-to-door asking neighbors for old
coats and blankets, and then headed downtown to give them out. From age 11 to age
21, Trevor and his family created a shelter, nightly food runs into the city, educational
programs, job placement, and a thrift shop. And now, Trevor’s family wants to create a
ranch where urban kids can come, get away from their dismal (and often violent)
surroundings and, after a while, head back into the world with renewed hope and a
decent chance at making things better for themselves and for others.

OPERATING ROOM LEFTOVERS (REMEDY, 3 TMP, 333 Cedar Street, PO Box
208051, New Haven, CT 06250).
“REMEDY” = Recovered Medical Equipment for the Developing World. They’re on to
something big here. Open but uncontaminated hospital operating room items are still
usable but no longer covered by manufacturers’ warranties. Rather than throwing
them away, some helpful, enthusiastic doctors and nurses are shipping them to
third-world countries where these sponges, sutures, rubber gloves, tubing, and prep
solutions (to name only a few) are saving countless human lives. We’re talking millions
of dollars worth of surplus inventory going to hospitals in Nicaragua, Surinam and the
Former Soviet Union (and the list – both of hospitals receiving and those in the U.S.
giving – continues to expand).

GRANDMA & THE GANGS (Heart of Texas Foundation, Youth Projects, P.O. Box
462205, Garland, TX 75046).
Grandma Edie Lewis is fearless. Her strength is getting gang members out of gangs
and into lives filled with opportunities and hope. Young people who are dismissed in
the eyes of most people as losers, Grandma Edie sees as just some kids who need a
lot of love.

WILDERNESS INQUIRY (1313 5th Avenue SE, Box 84, Minneapolis, MN 55414).
Since 1978, Wilderness Inquiry has taken over 15,000 people with disabilities on
adventures into the rivers and mountains and wild places of the world. Their publicity
poster sports Ms. Erin Broadbent ... going up the side of a rock wall in her wheelchair.
Pretty special stuff.

CANINE COMPANIONS FOR INDEPENDENCE (P.O. Box 446, Santa Rosa, CA
95402).
CCI trains dogs to work with people who use wheelchairs or are hearing-impaired,
providing these individuals with newfound ease of movement within their communities.
They have matched more than 1000 “companions” with human partners.

THE DENVER CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL Rx PET PROGRAM (1056 E. 19th Avenue,
Denver, CO 80218).
Remember the last time you tried to bring Muffy into the hospital to visit someone? Not
a chance. Well, in Denver, they’ve discovered that pet visits to hospitalized children
are so great that they’re difficult to describe. But imagine this: despite a multitude of IV
lines, tubes, bandages, casts, loss of hair, and pain ... smiling kids. Wonderful!

JEWISH FOUNDATION FOR CHRISTIAN RESCUERS (Anti-Defamation League,
823 United Nations Plaza, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017).
They risked their lives during the Holocaust years of World War II to hide, feed and
protect Jewish men, women and children. Now, many of these “righteous Gentiles”
have themselves fallen upon hard times. This foundation locates rescuers, and our
contributions go to direct support of these noble human beings.

SONGS OF LOVE, INC. (108-12 65th Road, Forest Hills, NY 11375, 718-997-8482,
website: www.songsoflove.org).
Here’s a group of professional musicians, composers and studio engineers who donate
their time and creative energies to compose and produce individually personalized
songs for children who are chronically or terminally ill. Receiving the Songs of Love
cassette never fails to have an incredible effect on the child, family, friends and hospital
staff. Songs of Love brings happiness and joy, sometimes at the very last minute. In
addition to your monetary contribution, you can also spread the word about Songs of
Love to doctors, nurses and friends who might need to take advantage of this “mitzvah
music.”

MIGRANT ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH FLORIDA (112 SE 10th Street, Delray Beach,
FL 33483, 561-274-4027).
If you’ve ever visited south Florida, in the midst of our relatives’ comfortable homes and
neighborhoods is also horrific poverty. Many of these impoverished families are
migrant farmworkers, thousands of people who are so needy that they move wherever
work can be found, often season by season, for horrible salaries and terrible working
conditions. So many of these families are homeless and without medical care when
needed, so the Migrant Association provides as many mobile homes as they can, funds
clinics to care for these people, and education to help get them into better jobs.

GOD’S LOVE WE DELIVER (895 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025).
God’s Love We Deliver prepares and delivers hundreds of meals each day to people
living with AIDS who are unable to prepare their own food. And the person delivering
the food provides the all-important human touch.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


GOD 1 – THE PURPOSE OF LIFE

Objectives:
☎ To present religion (particularly, Judaism) as a relevant resource for each of us as we
struggle to determine why we are alive and what we should be doing with the years allotted to us.
☎ To teach that ideas about God can help us to focus on our community’s responses to
questions about life’s purpose.
☎ To teach that formulating our own ideas about God represents each of us having articulated a
life-philosophy (i.e., we project onto God what we believe ought to be true for ourselves).

Materials needed:
☎ “Purpose” letter.
☎ Pads of paper.
☎ Pens.
☎ “Larry Levy” filmstrip, projector, screen and cassette player (or guitar and music).
☎ “God’s Answer Sheet.”
☎ Music-writing tape.
☎ Cassette tape player.
☎ Reminder: Time to order Sol Gordon books and Yellow Ribbon cards.

Implementation:
0:00 Discussion.

       Have tried to establish thus far: Religion is supposed to help us find our place in the
       universe, our path to living a meaningful life.
       ☎ So why do you think we are here?
       ☎ What do you think we’re supposed to be doing with our lives?
       ☎ At age 15/16, what do you think constitutes a worthwhile life?

0:20   Distribute “Purpose” letter, pads and pens.

       Students read letter to themselves and write (on same page) their names and responses.
       Note: While students are writing, playing a tape of some quiet folk-pop music will help
       settle the atmosphere.

0:40   Discussion.

       Share a few of the students’ responses.
       ☎ What is happiness? To a 5-year-old? To a 15-year-old? A college graduate? A
       newlywed? At your parents’ ages? At your grandparents’ ages?
       ☎ Are you happy?
       ☎ Are your parents happy?
       ☎ How do you suppose God would answer the question, “What is happiness?”
       ☎ Do you think “God’s answer” might be relevant to you?
       ☎ Does Judaism help shape your response to this question?

       ☎ Distribute and discuss “God’s Answer Sheet.”
       ☎ Did God write these? [Billy’s philosophical note: Any time people reach to define
       what is good and right, God is trying to communicate.]
       ☎ Is there a challenge for you in negotiating the difference between your answer and
       “God’s answer”?
       ☎ Is there a role for Judaism to play in figuring out the purpose of life?

1:20   Show (or present) “Larry Levy.”

       Conclusion:
       ☎ Judaism speaks of BALANCE as a goal in life: Enjoy life, but take care of it also.
       ☎ Through the study of Torah (i.e., things Jewish) and Judaism’s ideas about God, we
       try to understand how to achieve that balance.
       ☎ Does God give us the answers? Maybe, maybe not. But our search for what each
       of us can believe about God ... this search focuses us on possibilities.
       ☎ And these possibilities are what may very well bring us face-to-face ... with God.
       ☎ It is a relevant search. The struggle to determine why we are alive and what we
       should be doing with the years allotted to us ... this is Judaism’s struggle as well as our
       own.
       ☎ Finding out what generations of our family thought about God (and therefore, about
       questions of life’s purpose) may be helpful to us.
       ☎ And to formulate our own ideas about God should, in fact, help each of us to
       articulate our own life-philosophy ... for what we ultimately choose to believe about God,
       this is what we want to believe ought to be true for ourselves.
       ☎ And so, “God” is what we’ll be exploring for the next few weeks.
       ☎ The end goal, that you should come to some reasonable, meaningful conclusions
       about God for yourselves ... what you can confirm (at this point in your life) about
       believing in God.

1:30   End.
Rabbi William Dreskin
Woodlands Community Temple
50 Worthington Road
White Plains, NY 10607


Dear Rabbi Dreskin,

I am fifteen years old and think I’m a fairly normal human being. I do well in school. I’m
preparing for the SAT’s. In four months, I’ll have my driver’s license. My parents get on my
nerves sometimes, but I love them and they love me. I have plenty of good friends.

But every once in a while, I wonder where I’m going with my life. Is there a reason why I’m
doing all these things? I suppose what I’m asking is: Why am I here? Am I just supposed to
make myself happy? Or is there more? Should there be more?

Please let me know what you think about my questions. Thank you.

Sincerely,
J.F.
                                     God’s Answer Sheet:
                                   THE PURPOSE OF LIFE


Who is wise? The person who learns from all people.
Who is strong? The person who has self-control.
Who is rich? The person who is content with what life has given.

                                               — from Pirkei Avot, the Teaching of our Ancestors


That you remember and do all My mitzvot, and be holy to your God.

                                                                     — from V’ahavta in the Torah


God has told you what is good: to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with
your God.

                                              — from the book of Micah in the Tanach (the Bible)


These are the obligations about which there is no discussion, and whose reward is without
measure: to honor parents, to perform acts of lovingkindness, to engage in lifelong learning, to
welcome the stranger, to visit the sick, to be sure and celebrate, to console the bereaved, to pray
with sincerity, and to create peace among people. The study of Torah is equal to all of these,
because it leads to all of these.

                                                                — Eilu Devarim, from the Talmud
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


GOD 2 – ARGUING FOR AND AGAINST GOD

Objectives:
☎ To understand that God is not something about which we can be certain, but something in
which we choose to believe.
☎ To understand that our ideas about God have probably changed from when we were younger,
and may continue to change.
☎ To understand that there are many reasons to believe in God, and many reason not to belief
in God – ultimately, it’s not about whether God exists, but about why we would want to choose
to believe.

Materials needed:
☎ Book: “Children’s Letters to God.”
☎ Article: “Does God Have Feet?”
☎ Arrange for three guests to comprise Atheist Panel.
☎ Blackboard, chalk and eraser.
☎ Pads of paper.
☎ Pens.
☎ Cassette player.
☎ Music-writing tape.
☎ “Believing in God” sheets.

Implementation:
0:00 Explain: When we were younger, we probably thought about God in ways quite
      different from how we may think about God today. Perhaps some of the following will
      seem familiar to you from those earlier years.

       Read: Excerpts from “Children’s Letters to God.”
       Read: (Parts of?) Jonathan Miller’s article, “Does God Have Feet?” (“Reform Judaism”
       magazine).

       As children, it’s easy to believe in God. And it’s usually something we want to do.

       But as we grow older, and we see and experience more, our once-easy beliefs can be
       challenged ... and then more difficult to hold onto.

       Think to yourselves for a moment: What are some of the things you’ve seen, or
       experienced, or heard about, that make belief in God more difficult than it was when you
       were younger? [DON’T TAKE ANY RESPONSES]

0:10   Explain “suspension of disbelief.” You’re about to introduce three fictitious individuals
       (tho each could very well exist). For this program to succeed, and to possibly benefit us,
       we have to “suspend our disbelief” and treat them as if they are the real thing.

       Introduce panel of atheists. Explain that each has come to the conclusion that Judaism
       does not require a belief in God. They will take a few moments to explain why and,
       when they have completed their presentations, will take your questions.
       Atheist Panel.

0:30   Okay, now that we’ve heard a number of reasons why one might choose not to believe in
       God, let’s see if we can put together a list of reasons for and against believing in God.

       List on board: two columns, “For God,” “Against God.”
       Group should brainstorm arguments/ideas, listing them in the appropriate column.

0:40   Discuss:
       ☎ Can we ever be sure of God’s existence, or non-existence? No. We can only
       choose to believe. That’s why we call it “faith.”
       ☎ Why, after thousands of years of uncertainty (even convincing arguments to the
       contrary), do people (some very smart people) still believe in God?

0:50   Explain: Many Jewish thinkers throughout the ages have worked long and hard to devise
       an explanation that is both meaningful and realistic (in light of what we know about the
       world). For the next few minutes, we’ll be looking at some of their ideas.

       Distribute and read: “Believing in God” sheets.
       Allow time for reactions.

1:10   Individual writing: “I’d like there to be a God because (or “so that”) ...”
       Play music-writing tape throughout.
       Make sure names are on top of page (so these can be returned at end of year).

1:25   Come back together in one group.

       Conclusion:
       You may ask, “If we can’t ever be certain, of what use is it to believe in God?”
       Although this is a question we will address in the coming weeks, here’s a story to take
       home with you.

       A young man approached his rabbi. “Rabbi, what if there isn’t a God? Won’t we have
       wasted much of our time and energy in trying to do God’s will?” The rabbi led his
       student outside where, together, they waited for nightfall. When it was completely dark,
       the rabbi handed his student a bow and arrow, and pointed toward the woods. “There is
       a target painted on a tree in that forest. Shoot an arrow and try to hit the bullseye.” The
       student strung the bow, then paused and said, “But rabbi, it’s dark, and we cannot see the
       target.” “You’re right,” said the rabbi, “you don’t know where it is, or even if it is.”
       The student shot the arrow as well as he could into the forest. The rabbi said to his
       student, “You have shot an arrow, not knowing whether it has hit its mark, not knowing
       even if there is a mark. Yet you felt the strength of the bow, and the tightening of your
       muscles. When believing in God, it is not the target that matters ... but rather how well
       the arrow flies ... and how it has affected the archer.”

1:30   End.
                                      ATHEIST PANEL

Dr. Frederick Engelson, Nuclear Biologist

       I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God because science has pretty much explained the
       way the world works. Science isn’t perfect but the more questions it can and does
       answer about the universe, the less reason I think everyone has for needing God. You
       see, I think God was just invented by our ancestors in order to explain whatever they
       couldn’t explain themselves. When the earth’s climate functioned as to create a drought,
       people long ago didn’t understand the weather and so they attributed the drought to God.
       Now that we understand the weather reasonably well, God becomes unnecessary. As our
       knowledge grows, God shrinks.

Mr. Samuel Lerner, President, Lerner Investment Services

       I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God because the idea of a grand old man sitting up in
       heaven making decisions about our lives is ridiculous. That’s the kind of stuff they tried
       to sell us in religious school. But I’m old enough to know there’s no Santa Claus, and
       there’s no God! Human beings are free agents, and in every instance we act freely.
       Ever since I dropped out of religious school, I knew there’s nobody “on high” directing us
       or making decisions that are ours alone. And I don’t think God is like a butler or a
       bellhop either, listening to our prayers and running off to perform our wishes. I think we
       are on our own in this life, and that’s okay by me.

Mrs. Margaret Bergson, Schoolteacher, Shoah Survivor

       I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God because there is just too much evil in the world.
       Philosophers call my problem the problem of theodicy, which means “the problem of
       God, and how God allows evil to happen.” Well, I don’t have a problem. When a child
       dies of cancer, or the Shoah happens, I simply conclude ... there is no God. There can’t
       be a God! If there were, no God would allow good people to suffer.
                                    BELIEVING IN GOD

1. Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi (1075-1141): BELIEF AS TRADITION

      I believe in God because my ancestors believed. The Torah says that 600,000 Jews stood
      at Mount Sinai and heard the voice of God. The great teachers of the Bible and later
      Jewish tradition spoke and wrote about God with great passion and commitment.
      Through thick and thin, my ancestors have stood for God. I want to stand with my
      tradition. I believe along with all those others who have believed.

2. Moses Maimonides (1135-1204): BELIEF AS RATIONAL LOGIC

      Maimonides noted the complexity of the world and stressed how unlikely it would be for
      such a perfect world to have appeared by accident. Like many thinkers (Jewish and not)
      before him, he posited that while every motion requires a mover, it is incomprehensible to
      keep regressing back in time from motion to motion for eternity, and that there must be a
      First Mover who is, Himself, unmoved. This unmoved mover is God. This is the
      Cosmological Argument, first made (1500 years earlier) by Plato and Aristotle.
      Maimonides believed that God was beyond all human experience and expression – no
      description is adequate to express the nature of God – thus, it is impossible for us to say
      what God is; all we can state is what God is not.

3. Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677): BELIEF AS ONENESS

      Spinoza believed neither in a personal God nor in a Revelation by God. Nothing exists
      independently of God; everything is a manifestation of God. God is the infinite,
      necessarily existing (that is, uncaused), unique substance of the universe. There is only
      one substance in the universe – God – and everything else that is, is in God. Spinoza
      wrote, “Those who feign a God, like man, consisting of a body and a mind, and subject to
      passions ... wander far from the true knowledge of God.” God does not judge, does not
      plan, does not act purposively, is not a God to be feared, obeyed or appeased. God does
      not perform miracles, since there are no departures whatsoever from the necessary course
      of nature. For this, Spinoza was excommunicated in 1656 by the Jewish community of
      Amsterdam.

4. Hermann Cohen (1842-1918): BELIEF AS A CALL TO ETHICAL LIVING

      Hermann Cohen’s view of God calls upon humanity to hear God’s call to the “ethical
      task.” This “task” is the improvement of existence in accordance with moral rule. The
      human desire for universal ethics is the foundation for the belief in God, for it is God
      (according to Cohen) who nurtures within us our desire for moral living. The”ethical
      task” God gives us is to lessen human suffering. The primary purpose of Judaism, then,
      is to motivate us to build an ethical society. Cohen is more interested in God’s role in
      the lives of all humankind, rather than the role God plays in the life of any particular
      individual. Hermann Cohen wrote: “The general love for [hu]mankind is the messianic
      consequence of monotheism, for which the love of the stranger paved the way.”
      (Religion of Reason, p. 327)

5. Albert Einstein (1879-1955): BELIEF AS REVERENCE FOR THE CREATOR OF
UNIVERSE

      Einstein held a profound reverence for the harmony and beauty of what he called the
      mind of God as it was expressed in the creation of the universe and its laws. “Try and
      penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all
      the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and
      inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my
      religion.” When asked if he believed in God, Einstein wrote, “I believe in Spinoza’s
      God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who
      concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.” On the relationship between
      science and religion, Einstein said, “Science without religion is lame, Religion without
      science is blind.” God, however, cannot meddle at whim in the events of life. Einstein
      believed, as did Spinoza, that our freewill is limited by the laws of nature; just as the
      actions of a billiard ball, planet or star must behave according to physical rules, so too
      must human beings. Not miracles but the absence of miracles reflects God’s
      involvement in our lives; the fact that the world is comprehensible, that it follows laws,
      makes it (and its Creator) worthy of our awe.

6. Martin Buber (1878-1965): BELIEF AS RELATIONSHIP

      In I and Thou, Buber describes I-It and I-Thou relationships. The I-It relationship is
      based on the use one person has for another. So long as there is benefit, relationships
      remain strong. An I-Thou relationship brings participants together in full and equal,
      open and ethical, involvement. The I-Thou relationship is characterized by dialogue and
      by “total presentness.” The honor of the other – and not merely his/her usefulness – is of
      greatest importance. For Buber, God is the “Eternal Thou” – the only Thou which can
      never become an It. Genuine relationship with God is never used as a means towards an
      end. Our relationships with one another, when they are able to find their way into the
      realm of I-Thou, involves a meeting with God. God is, in fact, the meeting place for all
      truly selfless human experience. Buber writes, “Meet the world with the fullness of your
      being and there you will meet God.”

7. Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972): BELIEF AS APPRECIATION FOR LIFE

      Abraham Joshua Heschel, emphasized the presence of God in our everyday world.
      When we are able to experience a profound awareness of, and wonder at, the “sublime
      mystery” and extraordinariness of of ordinary life and existence – what Heschel called
      “radical amazement” – we experience God. From this awareness come a sense of
      indebtedness to God, a desire to thank God, and a commitment to serve God (through
      prayer, study, and ethical deeds). Heschel believed that, through the doing of the 613
      mitzvot, we encounter God and sense God’s nearness. These sacred acts become the
       meeting place between us and God. Consequently, Heschel spoke not of the necessity of
       a “leap of faith” but rather a “leap of action.”

8. Mordechai Kaplan (1881-1983): BELIEF AS AN EXTENSION OF OUR WORLD

      Mordecai Kaplan was the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. Kaplan believed that
      our modern age required we “reconstruct” a Jewish ideology that makes sense for a new
      era. Kaplan sought to redefine traditional principles of Jewish law and faith in ways that
      would be intellectually, spiritually, and ethically compelling for American Jews. First
      and foremost, Kaplan embraced modern science and its natural explanations, which
      necessitated the rejection of belief in supernatural forces, including a supernatural God.
      Anything we wish to believe about God must be consistent with whatever else we hold to
      be true in the natural world. Kaplan saw God as a force within nature that allows for
      order and goodness – “the power,” he wrote, “that makes for salvation.” Prayer should
      also be consistent with this ideology; for example, rather than asking God for health or
      rain, one should pray for the abilities of mind and body and attitude and character which
      will allow us to engage in activities that will promote better health and caring for the
      earth.
9. Professor Emil Fackenheim (1916-2003): BELIEF AS RESPONSE TO ORDER

       The biggest reason for my belief in God is the physical universe. Not just the earth, but
       the whole cosmos, including our solar system, the stars and all the galaxies. If the
       universe were nothing but a whirling mass of atoms, we would expect to find complete
       chaos. But instead, wherever we look, we see the evidence of order. The setting and
       the rising of the sun, the nightly movement of the stars – the fact is, this order suggests
       something doing the ordering. As a clock suggests the existence of a clockmaker,
       creation suggests the existence of a Creator.

10. Richard Rubenstein (1924-): BELIEF IN THE FACE OF TRAGEDY

       For Richard Rubenstein and other modern Jewish thinkers, the Holocaust is the starting
       point for radical theology. Because of the events of the Nazi era, one cannot sustain a
       belief in a supernatural God. Suffering cannot be the result of sin; otherwise, the
       Holocaust would have had to have been sanctioned by God as punishment for sin. “To
       see any purpose in the death camps, the traditional believer is forced to regard the most
       demonic, anti-human explosion of all history as a meaningful expression of God’s
       purposes. The idea is simply too obscene for me to accept.” After Auschwitz, if we go
       to synagogue, “once inside, we are struck dumb by words we can no longer honestly
       utter.” For us, God can only be understood as Holy Nothingness – entirely without
       definition, yet remaining the source of all Creation. We see evidence of this God in the
       orderliness of nature; God is the source of all cosmic order. As inexplicable as the
       horror of human experience can become, God exists but beyond everything – to us, it is as
       if God is “nothingness.”

11. Rabbi Ralph Kingsley (1933-): BELIEF IN THE FACE OF TRAGEDY
      January 1986, the shuttle Challenger explodes in the sky and seven lives are lost in an
      instant. What a painful way to have learned the lesson of human limitation. The myth
      of human perfection has rarely been so dramatically undone. The fact is, however, that
      we are not God. Hard as it is for us to accept the fact, we are not always in control,
      despite our brilliance and the unbelievable advances of modern science. We are finite,
      and thus we stumble. Woe to us if we ever forget that.

12. Dennis Prager (1948-): BELIEF AS MORALITY

      If there is no God, then the most significant aspect of life – morality, the notion of right
      and wrong – is merely a personal decision. Gases, acids and molecules are real; they
      are not right and wrong, or good and evil. But morality is. If God does not exist, then
      neither does morality. Without God, all we can have are opinions about what is morally
      “right” and “wrong.” As this century’s most eloquent atheist philosopher, Bertrand
      Russell, wrote, “I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of ethical
      values, but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty
      is that I don’t like it.”
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


GOD 3 – GOD-SHOPPING

Objectives for the participant:
• To understand that Judaism asks of us three acts of faith regarding God: 1) that we believe in
God; 2) that we believe God is One; and, 3) that we believe God has something to ask of us
about how we live our lives.
• To understand that, while it is difficult to have complete faith, it is possible to develop a
personal idea of God that is both reasonable and meaningful.
• To acknowledge that Judaism has many varying ideas about God, and that they are worth
considering as we strive to piece together our personal ideas about God.
• To realize that it’s okay in Judaism both to question God, to change our ideas about God, and
to piece together for our individual self ideas about God that are reasonable to accept.
• To consider that while encouraging individual thought about God, Judaism will challenge us
on the components of our God-belief, spurring us on to uncover and accept a God that wants us
to better the world.

Materials needed:
• Last week’s writings (I’d like there to be a God because ...).
• Mp3 recording: Bill Cosby’s “Noah.”
• Mp3 player.
• “GODshopping: An Exploration in Personal Theology” worksheets.
• “GODshopping Text Study” handouts.
• Paper and pens.
• Pencils with erasers.
• GODshopping posters. Posted around room. Set of 8 posters: one per God-concept, each
bearing a picture, its title, each of its statements glued to it. And attached to the bottom, tear-off
copies of each individual statement (enough copies so each student could, if they want, take one).
• GODshopping craft materials: scissors, glue, multi-colored construction paper.

Implementation:
0:00         Distribute last week’s writing: “I’d like there to be a God because ...” Take some
             time to share the writings.

0:10           • Okay, we’ve shared some thoughts about why we’d like for there to be a God.
               Now we have to consider what it is that God might actually do.
               • Discuss: Can you name any people with a clear “picture” of what God does?
               • Here’s someone with one. Play recording of Bill Cosby’s “Noah”.
               • Judaism asks of us to commit to three acts of faith regarding God: 1) that we
               believe in God; 2) that we believe God is One; and, 3) that we believe God has
       something to ask of us about how we live our lives (a “Commanding Voice”).
       This isn’t about “hearing voices” in our heads, but about reaching an intellectual
       and spiritual decision that someone/something in the universe wants us to behave
       in a certain way that benefits everyone/thing else.

0:25   • Shopping I.
       • Let’s explore some more pictures of God.
       • Each one of these comes from somewhere out of 4000 years of Jewish life and
       thinking about God.
       • Each one reflects the three Jewish acts of faith about God: that God exists,
       that God is One, and God has something to ask us about how we live our lives.

       • Four corners.
       • Listen to the following four descriptions of God, and select the one which
       comes closest to what you believe.
       • Facilitator uses posters (posted around program space) to explain the first four
       God-ideas: 1) Watchmaker (Ya’atof v’Lo Er’eh ... The Hidden God I Cannot
       See); 2) Ruler of the Universe (Melekh haOlam); 3) Jiminy Cricket (Kol
       D’mama Dakah ... The Still Small Voice); and, 4) The Force (Naturalism,
       Yotzer Or/Maariv Aravim ... Creator of Light/One Who Makes Evening Fall).
       • Students select idea “that may not be perfect for you, but comes closest to
       something you could accept about God” ... then all move at once to location.
       • Corner discussion: Why did you choose this corner?
       • [Optional] 1 or 2 members of each corner share a summary of their thoughts
       with the entire group.

0:45   • Shopping II.
       • There are quite a few more ideas out there about God. Let’s take a look at
       four more.

       • Station-rotation (or, if only one staff person, a “guided tour”).
       • Distribute “God-Shopping Text Sheet.”
       • Participants divide into four groups and rotate to different locations (the
       hoped-for benefit of moving the groups rather than the presenters is to prevent
       shpilkes and to maximize participants’ ability to focus on the presentations – you
       may certainly opt to leave the groups in place and move your presenters instead).
       • Facilitator uses “God-Shopping Text Sheet” to explain this second set of
       God-ideas: 1) Partner in Creation (Shotef b’Ma’aseh Vereshit); 2) Author of
       Life and Death (Puppetmaster, M’khayei HaKol ... The One Who Gives Life to
       All); 3) Goodness/Love/Dreams/Ideals (HaTov v’HaM’rakhem ... The One Who
       is Good and Compassionate); and, 4) Ayn Sof (The Infinite One).

1:05   • Shopping III.
       • It’s important to know that, while Judaism encourages us each to believe in
       God, there is much latitude as to what we choose to believe.
       • Even concerning the eight concepts we’ve just presented, we can (if we prefer)
       pick and choose from within the concepts themselves to begin piecing together an
       idea about God that seems reasonable and meaningful to us.
       • And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going GODshopping!

       • Distribute the following: “GODshopping: An Exploration in Personal
       Theology” worksheets, pencils with erasers, scissors, glue, construction paper
       (many colors).

       • Part one.
       • Work through the “GODshopping” worksheet (which is an exact repetition of
       the God-ideas we’ve met in both the Four Corners and Station Rotation exercises)
       by placing a check next to those ideas which seem “reasonable and meaningful” to
       you.
       • Not only may you mix-and-match from the different categories, you are also
       invited to change the wording of any statement you would like if such a change
       were made.
       • You may even add your own statements to this list.

       • Part two.
       • Hanging from the bottom of each poster are strips of paper, each containing
       one statement from within that God-idea.
       • Tear off those strips which match those you checked on your worksheet, make
       any needed changes to the text, and glue your individual set of statements to one
       side of one piece of construction paper.
       • Names on back, please.

1:25   • Wrap-up.
       • Once again ... Judaism asks of us three acts of faith regarding God: 1) that we
       believe in God; 2) that we believe God is One; and, 3) that we believe God has
       something to ask of us about how we live our lives.
       • Hopefully, these God-ideas each of you have developed are all reasonable and
       meaningful for you.
       • As time goes on, your ideas about God will likely change; that’s fine.
       • For now, the challenge is to find a personal idea of God that is relevant and
       reasonable, and that might actually help you to “find your place in the world.”
       • And ... an idea about God that you can use during t’fillah as well. It’s
       important not to “worship” someone else’s ideas about God. Be sure you bring
       your own!
GOD-SHOPPING!


                             WATCHMAKER

__   GOD CREATED THE WORLD.

__   GOD IS NOT INVOLVED IN OUR LIVES TODAY.

__   GOD ALLOWS BAD THINGS TO HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.

__   GOD IS THERE, BUT GOD IS SILENT.


                        RULER OF THE UNIVERSE

__   GOD PLAYS AN ACTIVE ROLE IN OUR LIVES.

__   GOD PROTECTS AND CARES.

__   GOD REWARDS GOOD PEOPLE AND PUNISHES BAD PEOPLE.

__   GOD HEARS MY PRAYERS.

__   GOD WORKS MIRACLES.

__   GOD GIVES ORDER.

__   GOD IS JUST.

__   GOD HOLDS US UP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.


                             JIMINY CRICKET

__   GOD IS MY CONSCIENCE.

__   GOD IS INSIDE OF EVERYONE.

__   GOD TALKS TO ME.

__   GOD LETS ME KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG.
__   GOD HELPS ME TO BE JUST.

                                THE FORCE

__   GOD IS EVERYWHERE.

__   THE BEAUTY OF NATURE REPRESENTS GOD.

__   THE PATTERNS IN THE WORLD ARE EVIDENCE OF GOD.

__   GOD DOES NOT DEAL WITH ME PERSONALLY.

__   GOD IS IN ALL SCIENTIFIC TRUTHS.

__   GOD IS ORDER.


                     GOODNESS, LOVE, DREAMS, IDEALS

__   GOD REPRESENTS POTENTIAL.

__   GOD IS A ROLE MODEL FOR PERFECTION.

__   GOD ACTS THROUGH ME.

__   GOD IS THE BEST I CAN POSSIBLY BE.

__   GOD IS OUR DREAM FOR A UNITED HUMANITY.


                          PARTNER IN CREATION

__   GOD GAVE HUMAN BEINGS FREE WILL.

__   WE ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.

__   GOD RE-CREATES THE WORLD CONTINUALLY.

__   I AM GOD’S PARTNER; WE ARE BOTH FULFILLING AN AGREEMENT.

__   I CAN ARGUE WITH GOD.

__   GOD HELPS US TO HOLD OURSELVES UP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.
                       AUTHOR OF LIFE AND DEATH

__   GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THAT HAPPENS IN THE WORLD.

__   REWARD AND PUNISHMENT ARE GIVEN OUT IN THE AFTERLIFE.

__   GOD HAS REASONS FOR DOING THINGS THAT WE WILL NEVER
     UNDERSTAND.

__   I CANNOT ARGUE WITH GOD.



                                EIN SOF

__   THE ONLY REASON I EXIST

__   THE OCEAN; I AM A WAVE

__   EVERYTHING

__   CAUSE OF CAUSES

__   CONSTANT BREATH OF THE UNIVERSE
                               GOD-SHOPPING TEXT SHEET

GOD AS OUR PARTNER IN CREATION
       When God created the world, God made everything a little bit incomplete. Instead of
making bread grow out of the earth, God made wheat so that humans might harvest it, thresh it,
and bake it into bread. The same is true for much of our world. Why? Because God wants us
to become partners with God in completing the work of Creation.
       This is why we read in the siddur ...
       Your might, O God, is everlasting; help us to use our strength for good and not for evil.
You are the Source of life and blessing; help us to choose life for ourselves and our children.
You are the Author of freedom; help us to set free the captive.


GOD AS GOODNESS, LOVE, DREAMS AND IDEALS (adapted from Erich Fromm’s The Art
of Loving)
         The truly religious person does not pray for anything, does not expect anything from God.
God is a symbol of all that people are striving for: love, truth and justice. Such a person has
faith in the principles which “God” represents. So he thinks truth, lives love and justice, and
considers life an opportunity to arrive at an ever-fuller understanding of human potential. To
“love God” means to work toward the full human capacity to love. To “believe in God” is to
believe that a measure of all these qualities we describe as God-like can be attained by each one
of us.

GOD AS AUTHOR OF LIFE AND DEATH (adapted from the Book of Job)
        Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Do you know who fixed its
dimensions or set its cornerstone? Who closed the sea behind doors when it gushed forth out of
the womb, and said, “You may come so far and no farther. Here your surging waves will stop”?
Have you ever commanded the day to break, assigned the dawn its place? Have you penetrated
the sources of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been
disclosed to you? If you know of these, tell Me. Who cut a channel for the torrents, and a path
for the thunderstorms? Do you know the laws of heaven, or impose its authority on earth? Can
you dispatch the lightning on a mission and have it answer, “I am ready”?
God-Shopping Poster Attachments ...


                               WATCHMAKER

GOD CREATED THE WORLD.


GOD IS NOT INVOLVED IN OUR LIVES TODAY.


GOD ALLOWS BAD THINGS TO HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.


GOD IS THERE, BUT GOD IS SILENT.


                          RULER OF THE UNIVERSE


GOD PLAYS AN ACTIVE ROLE IN OUR LIVES.


GOD PROTECTS AND CARES.


GOD REWARDS GOOD PEOPLE AND PUNISHES BAD PEOPLE.


GOD HEARS MY PRAYERS.


GOD WORKS MIRACLES.


GOD GIVES ORDER.


GOD IS JUST.


GOD HOLDS US UP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.
                             JIMINY CRICKET

GOD IS MY CONSCIENCE.


GOD IS INSIDE OF EVERYONE.


GOD TALKS TO ME.

GOD LETS ME KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG.


GOD HELPS ME TO BE JUST.


                               THE FORCE


GOD IS EVERYWHERE.


THE BEAUTY OF NATURE REPRESENTS GOD.


THE PATTERNS IN THE WORLD ARE EVIDENCE OF GOD.


GOD DOES NOT DEAL WITH ME PERSONALLY.


GOD IS IN ALL SCIENTIFIC TRUTHS.


GOD IS ORDER.


                     GOODNESS, LOVE, DREAMS, IDEALS


GOD REPRESENTS POTENTIAL.


GOD IS A ROLE MODEL FOR PERFECTION.
GOD ACTS THROUGH ME.


GOD IS THE BEST I CAN POSSIBLY BE.


GOD IS OUR DREAM FOR A UNITED HUMANITY.


                          PARTNER IN CREATION


GOD GAVE HUMAN BEINGS FREE WILL.


WE ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.


GOD RE-CREATES THE WORLD CONTINUALLY.


I AM GOD’S PARTNER; WE ARE BOTH FULFILLING AN AGREEMENT.


I CAN ARGUE WITH GOD.


GOD HELPS US TO HOLD OURSELVES UP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.


                        AUTHOR OF LIFE AND DEATH


GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THAT HAPPENS IN THE WORLD.


REWARD AND PUNISHMENT ARE GIVEN OUT IN THE AFTERLIFE.


GOD HAS REASONS FOR DOING THINGS THAT WE WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.


I CANNOT ARGUE WITH GOD.
                             EIN SOF

THE ONLY REASON I EXIST

THE OCEAN; I AM A WAVE

EVERYTHING

CAUSE OF CAUSES

CONSTANT BREATH OF THE UNIVERSE
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


GOD 4 – CONFRONTING EVIL

Objectives:
☎ To test students’ God-ideas by evaluating the causes of evil in our world.
☎ To begin to differentiate between the role God plays in issues of good/evil (setting the
boundaries, making the challenges) and the role we play (seeking to understand the boundaries,
and responding to the challenges by nurturing the good in ourselves and in others).

Materials needed:
☎ 2 weeks prior ... send letter home notifying parents of evening’s topic and video.
☎ VCR.
☎ Video: Night and Fog.
☎ Chalkboard, chalk and eraser.
☎ Writing pads.
☎ Pens.
☎ “God-shopping” collages.

Implementation:
0:00 Continuing our unit on God, we now put the results of our “God-Shopping” to the test ...
      by challenging them with some of the issues that confront those who try to believe in God
      in a sometimes difficult world.

       Evil is perhaps the greatest challenge to our belief in God. It is a crucial piece of the
       puzzle that we must consider. And the most dramatic example of evil is the Shoah.

       Explain: Shoah documentary footage can be difficult to view. If at any time you
       become uncomfortable, try closing your eyes for a minute or so. If the discomfort is too
       great, come speak to me.

0:05   View video: Night and Fog (31 minutes).

0:40   Ask: Does anyone want to say something? (If possible, no more than 5 minutes for
       this.)

       We can’t consider the challenge of evil in our world without considering the Shoah.
       And we can’t consider the existence of God, either.

0:50   Distribute “God-Shopping” collages and pens. Divide into two groups.
       Explain:
       As we have the following discussion, I’d like you to refer to your “God-Shopping”
       collages to assist you in thinking things through, and to evaluate whether you think your
       God-ideas continue to be reasonable and meaningful to you. The pen in your hand is to
       allow you to make changes to your project should any changes in thinking come to you.

       Discuss:
       ☎ Where do you think God was during the Shoah?
       ☎ Read (or summarize) Elie Wiesel’s “The Hanging of a Child.”
       ☎ What is evil?
       ☎ Create chart on chalkboard(s).
              ☎ Ask students to give examples of evil (don’t give students the following
              terms; they should give you an idea of what we’re looking for – physical, natural,
              moral, human).
              ☎ Write their responses in the first column.
              ☎ When list is complete, ask: How do we reconcile our idea of God with each
              of these “evils”? What’s the difference between the Shoah and a tornado, and
              good guys finishing last? Where is God during each of these?
              ☎ Write their responses in the second column.

       ☎ If the human race voted that murder is okay, would that make it so?
       ☎ Do humans decide what is good and evil? Or is there something bigger that
       decides?

1:20   Writing time (play music-writing tape).

       Using your “God-Shopping” collages, answer the following questions which do not ask
       about evil but instead:

       ☎ What does God have to do with good in our world?
       ☎ And what role do we play (as God’s partners) in nurturing good in our world?

       As needed, you may adust your “God-Shopping” collages.

1:30   End.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


GOD 5 – WHEN LIVING HURTS (CONFRONTING EVIL, CONT’D)

Objectives:
☎ To continue testing students’ God-ideas by evaluating the causes of evil in our world.
☎ To learn about suicide, its causes and remedies.
☎ To consider Judaism’s point of view on the purpose of life, what to do when life seems
purposeless, and where is God in all this.

Materials needed:
☎ Video: “Inside I Ache” (URJ)
☎ VCR.
☎ Pads of paper.
☎ Pens.
☎ “God-Shopping” collages.
☎ Handout: “God and I, Together ... When Living Hurts”

Implementation:
0:00 Distribute pads and pens.

       Last week, we tested our God-ideas by juxtaposing them to the pain we have seen or
       heard about in other people’s lives (tornadoes, bad things happening to good people, the
       Shoah). This week, we continue testing our God-ideas, but this time by juxtaposing
       them to the pain we sometimes feel in our own lives.

       Each of us is allotted seventy years or so to live our lives. In addition to making a living
       so that we can earn money to feed, shelter and clothe ourselves and those we love, we
       must also try to figure out why we’re here, what we think we’re supposed to accomplish.
       While we struggle to find the answer to this most difficult of all questions, we each make
       choices (even as very young children) about how to live, how to play, how to work, how
       to feel, and so forth.

       Making these choices can be very difficult. No one here has to worry much about food
       or shelter or clothing – but that doesn’t mean our lives are easy. In fact, emotionally, life
       can be really tough ... on any of us.

       Writing:
       ☎ Write names on top of page.
       ☎ Complete the following three statements.
       ☎ The thing that worries me most is ...
       ☎ When I really feel down, I ...
       ☎ Suicide is ... (note: we’re not looking for a definition here)

       Responses not to be processed. Go straight to video.

0:15   Suicide is a difficult topic. But a critically important one. Your knowledge of it could
       literally save the life of someone you care about. Maybe your own.

       This video is not technically exciting. And it’s somewhat dated. But it’s still very much
       worth listening to. Let’s view it, and then we’ll talk.

       Video: “Inside I Ache” (17 minutes)

0:35   Distribute “God-Shopping” collages (pens still in hand).

       As we speak, you should refer to the God-ideas you’ve collected in these collages. As
       before, you want to be examining them to see if your ideas are reasonable and
       meaningful. If needed, you may make changes to them.

       Note: You may want to bring in a psychologist to conduct or participate in this
       discussion.

       Discuss:
       ☎ What could a relatively affluent Westchester 15-year old possibly have going on in
       his/her life that might make it tough?
       ☎ From your writing: What are the things that worry you most?
       ☎ From your writing: How do you handle extreme disappointment, sadness and
       depression? (“When I really feel down, I ...)
       ☎ Why would someone think about suicide?
       ☎ Why would someone actually commit suicide? What has to fall into place (or not
       fall into place) for such a thing to happen?
       ☎ Have you ever thought about suicide?
       ☎ Is suicide ever a valid choice? Is life ever worthless? Why should we cope, why go
       on?

       Let’s shift gears a bit:
       ☎ What role do you think God plays in any of this?
       ☎ One of the greatest conflicts in all religion is: Where is God during our moments of
       greatest pain? What do you think?
       ☎ At our most difficult moments, we sometimes say, “Please, God, don’t let it
       happen?” Then when it does, how does this affect our relationship with God? (We
       sometimes accuse, “How could You, God?”)
       Judaism grapples with issues of pain and evil, too. It tries to help us cope with these
       issues. It’s like an automatic sprinkler system; when life sends us reeling, Judaism tries
       to remind us of some effective ways to respond, and to care.

       Put another way (and in terms we’ve been using since the beginning of this program): If
       religion exists to help us find our place in the world, then perhaps it can help us when
       we’ve lost our way.

1:05   Distribute handout, “God and I, Together ... When Living Hurts,” and move into
       chevruta.

       Take turns reading the selections on this sheet. After each selection, each one of you
       should respond to:
       ☎ What do you think Judaism is teaching us about coping with pain?

1:25   For the past three weeks, we’ve taken you “God-Shopping.” In that time, you’ve
       probably made a few changes to your collages. In living our lives, especially when pain
       afflicts us, we also sometimes make changes to our God-ideas.

       Judaism emphasizes that God created a world filled with goodness. This doesn’t mean
       that our lives are all-good, because we know they’re not. What it does mean is that each
       of us has been challenged ... to respond to the real difficulties in life by insisting upon
       finding the good. It may seem hidden, but our philosophy of life is that the good is
       always somewhere near.

       And what about God? When life gets tought, rather than accusing God of being
       uncompassionate, Judaism encourages us to to find a way to have God support us, care
       for us, and help us to find our way again.

       No matter how bad life may seem, Judaism insists, “Life is never worthless.” Things can
       always be worked through.

       But in the end ... the reality of life is that it can be hard. And from time to time, we may
       find ourselves hurting deeply. What do we do? First, we look for friends and/or family
       to lean on. And then remember, you can always come to us.

       Take home three things from tonight:
       ☎ First, from Harry Chapin’s song ... Don’t you know that you don’t need to grow up
       alone.
       ☎ Second, Sol Gordon books (When Living Hurts).
       ☎ And third, one of these Yellow Ribbon cards. If you find yourself in pain, and don’t
       know how to say it, just hand this card to someone. That will open the door.

1:30   End.
Addendum: Session 8

☎ Order “Yellow Ribbon” cards from: Light for Life Foundation of America, PO Box 644,
Westminster, CO, 80030-0644, 303-429-3530, www.yellowribbon.org

☎ Label to be placed inside Sol Gordon book:

Adam Rosenthal
Confirmation Class 1998/5758

Judaism’s passionate love for life can be summed up in one verse from the book of Deuteronomy
(30:19): And God said, “I have placed before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose
life ... that you may live.”

Life can be hard for us. And yet, as difficult as it may be, we must insist upon remembering that
we were meant to find contentment and joy. May you be among those who always remember.

In friendship and shalom,

Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Jonathan Gordon
Fred Greene, Rabbinic Intern
                   GOD AND I, TOGETHER ... WHEN LIVING HURTS
                         Jewish Writings about Pain and Loss

☎ In Noah’s time, before God decided the world was filled with so much evil it had to be
destroyed, God struggled within for many days. Knowing that human beings were behaving
horribly, but not wanting to give up on them, God prayed they would become better and live.
Finally, however, God resolved to flood the earth. But having done this, God cried for seven
days, and sat in mourning for the earth. God sat shiva.

☎ Many centuries later, the Israelite kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians.
Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Babylonians began exiling the Israelites to Babylon. God
became so upset as to want to leave Heaven and go down to the Israelites as they struggled to
carry their belongings northward. God began walking with our ancestors, carrying some of their
bags for them.

☎ Once, while Rabbi Meir was teaching at the Bet Midrash, his two young children died.
Rabbi Meir’s wife carried the children into her bedroom, laid them upon the marriage-bed, and
spread a white covering over their bodies. In the evening, when Rabbi Meir returned home, he
asked, “Where are my beloved children?” She did not reply, saying instead, “Rabbi, with your
permission, I would ask you one question.” “Ask,” he replied. “A few days ago, a person
entrusted some jewels to my custody and now demands them again. Should I give them back?”
Rabbi Meir responded, “Such is an unnecessary question. Would you hesitate to restore to
anyone that which is theirs?” “No,” she replied, “but I thought it best not to restore them
without first informing you.” She then led him to their bedroom and, stepping to the bed, took
the white covering off the bodies of their children. “Here are the jewels,” she said, “the Owner
has asked for their return.”

☎ God has given us a world which fundamentally makes sense. Within this world, anybody
can hurt. Inanimate stones can hurt. But you need great depth of soul to be able to reach out
and help. When a person cries out to God in great pain and fear, I believe God answers by
sending us people – by motivating us to become doctors and nurses, or good friends and
neighbors – people reaching out to help one another. God helps us by giving us qualities of
strength, courage, humor and patience. [Rabbi Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to
Good People]

☎ “I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life ... that you may live.”
[Deuteronomy 30:19]
Label to be placed inside Sol Gordon book:

                                       Adam Rosenthal
                                 Confirmation Class 2001/5761

Judaism’s passionate love for life can be summed up in one verse from the book of Deuteronomy
 (30:19): And God said, “I have placed before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose
                                     life ... that you may live.”

Life can be hard for us. And yet, as difficult as it may be, we must insist upon remembering that
 we were meant to find contentment and joy. May you be among those who always remember.

                                   In friendship and shalom,



         Rabbi William Dreskin                                    Darren Levine
      Woodlands Community Temple                                  Rabbinic Intern
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


PRAYER 1 – WHAT IS PRAYER?

Objectives:
☎ To explore the function and value of services and of prayer.
☎ To understand that there is an important variety of purposes for Jewish prayer.
☎ To continue considering what God-ideas work best for each of us during prayer.

Materials needed:
☎ Video: 2-3 minutes of clips of different services (televangelist, Catholic Mass, WCT
Shabbat).
☎ Chalkboard, chalk and eraser.
☎ Prayer collections (1 booklet per student).
☎ Pens.
☎ God-Shopping collages.

Implementation:
0:00 Video clips: Televangelist, Catholic Mass, WCT Shabbat (2-3 minutes).

       Discuss:
       ☎ Why do you think religious groups all have some form of prayer?
       ☎ What are some of the services you remember? Good points? Bad points?
       ☎ Do we need services? Why, why not?
       ☎ What is prayer?
       ☎ What makes prayer good?
       ☎ What does prayer do?

       Point:
       ☎ Services, like many of the games and exercises we’ve used this year, can be
       meaningful or meaningless.
       ☎ If we believe the power is all in God’s hand, then perhaps we believe that mere
       recitation takes care of our prayers’ effectiveness.
       ☎ But if we believe differently, the responsibility rests with us to uncover what’s
       meaningful about any particular prayer, and to activate what’s meaningful about that
       prayer.

       Go to chalkboard:
       ☎ What different kinds of prayers are there?
       Write students’ responses on board.

       Then say:
       I’m going to write a set of categories on the board. You tell me which, in your opinion,
       have anything (or nothing) to do with prayer.

       List (some of which may already be on board):
       ☎ Affirmation of Jewish heritage.
       ☎ A culture to really value.
       ☎ Solitude.
       ☎ Introspection, self-evaluation.
       ☎ Sharing of common dreams and visions.
       ☎ Petition (asking for things).
       ☎ Praise and thanks.
       ☎ Pondering the imponderable.
       ☎ Affirmation of Jewish community.
       ☎ Affirmation of Jewish continuity.

       Discuss the categories:
       ☎ Which have anything (or nothing) to do with prayer?
       ☎ Can you think of any examples, any prayer which fits into one of these (or your)
       categories?

0:45   Distribute prayer booklets (1-2 prayers per category).

       Move into chevruta.

       Instructions:
       ☎ For each category, one partner should read the selection aloud.
       ☎ Both should then discuss: Does this prayer fit the category into which it has been
       placed? How, or how not?
       ☎ After about a minute of discussion, move to next category, the second partner
       reading, and so forth.

1:10   Return to one group, and distribute pens and God-Shopping collages.

       Group discussion:
       ☎ Do the categories seem accurate?
       ☎ Have we left any out?
       ☎ So then, how and when do you think prayers work?
       ☎ What should we expect from prayer?
       ☎ Scenario: Uncle Joe is very ill. We recite Mi Sheberach for Uncle Joe to get better.
       But Uncle Joe dies. Did our prayer work? [Not in category of Petition as we’d hoped,
       but perhaps in another.]
       ☎ Scenario: There is tremendous strife, unrest, and war in our world. We recite Oseh
       Shalom for world peace. Yet another war breaks out somewhere on earth. Did our
       prayer work?
       ☎ Scenario: During B/Mitzvah portion of Shabbat service, parents recite
       Shechecheyanu. Did our prayer work?
       ☎ Scenario: During Shabbat service, congregation recites Kiddush and Motzi. Did
       our prayer work? [As difficult as life may be, we can still look at it and say it’s a
       miracle.]
       ☎ And (looking at your God-Shopping collages) where is God in all of this?

       Conclusion:
       ☎ Prayer can be meaningful, but if we limit our expectations for what it can do (i.e.,
       petition only) we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and disillusionment.
       ☎ For prayer to remain meaningful throughout the best and worst or our lives, we have
       to open ourselves to its many possibilities and purposes.
       ☎ Each one of us is responsible for making any prayer, in any category, meaningful.
       It’s as if the words themselves seem to lack meaning until we arrive to unlock what’s
       hidden there.
       ☎ Story: Rabbi asked by disciples what he does to prepare for prayer. His reply, “I
       pray that I might be able to pray.”
       ☎ We’ll work on this some more next week.
1:30   End.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


POST-SOUP KITCHEN TZEDAKAH DISCUSSION

       NOTE: This session takes place the week after the Thanksgiving Day Soup Kitchen
       experience.

Objectives:
☎ To consider the role that giving plays both in the life of the receiver and of the giver.
☎ To explore the power a single individual has in affecting other people’s lives for the better.
☎ To understand that while human kindness is certainly not limited to the Jewish community,
it is a requirement for belonging to the Jewish community.

Materials needed:
☎ Two weeks prior, distribute five dollars to each student with the instructions: Do some
meaningful tzedakah work with this money, and be prepared to talk about it in two weeks. Also,
you may not just give the money away; you must first change it into something.
☎ Handout: “Jewish Texts on Tzedakah.”
☎ Handout: “Tzedakah Activities YOU Can Do.”

Implementation:
Notes:
☎ This session should be preceded, two weeks earlier, by providing each student with a five
dollar bill and the challenges to: a) do some meaningful tzedakah work with it (not just giving
the money away, but first changing it into something else); and, b) be prepared to share with the
class what you did with the money.

0:00   Post-Soup Kitchen discussion:
       ☎ Describe one person or incident that made an impression on you (if you weren’t
       there, describe an experience you’ve had with a homeless or needy person).
       ☎ How did it feel, in general, to be there?
       ☎ How did it feel to be a giver?
       ☎ How do you suppose the receivers felt?
       ☎ Where do you think any of these people went after the meal?
       ☎ Knowing what you do, if you were to run into one of these people on the street,
       would you give them a dollar? If you didn’t know them?
       ☎ Do you think you made a difference?

0:30   Discussion about the five dollars:
       ☎ What did you do with it?
       ☎ Do you think you made a difference?
       ☎ Was what you did important?

       Shifting focus:
       ☎ Is it Jewish to be doing these things?

0:45   Distribute handout, “Jewish Texts on Tzedakah,” and move into chevruta.

       Take turns reading the selections on this sheet. After each selection, each one of you
       should respond to:
       ☎ What do you think Judaism is teaching us about reaching out to others?

1:05   Return to group.

       Discuss:
       ☎ Why did the WCT Confirmation Class have you go to the Soup Kitchen and
       distribute the five dollars?
       ☎ Why is it Jewish to be doing these things? You don’t have to be Jewish to be a
       mentsch, but you have to be a mentsch to be Jewish.
       ☎ Brainstorm other tzedakah activities at WCT: Hunger Fund, Midnight Run,
       Vietnamese family, Project Ezra, Gift of Chanukah, B/Mitzvah tzedakah, Confirmation
       tzedakah, Pinch-Hitters, the Tzedakah Habit Shopping Cart, Greenburgh Interfaith Caring
       Community.
       ☎ Brainstorm other tzedakah activities the students can do outside of temple, on their
       own.
       ☎ Distribute and briefly look at “Tzedakah Activities YOU Can Do.”

       Closing:
       ☎ Judaism believes that every human being has something to contribute to the
       betterment of life for us all.
       ☎ Judaism’s emphasis on doing good stems from its absolute faith that each one of us
       deserves to live a good life, and that each one of us can most definitely make a difference
       in the helping another’s life to be good.

       Story: “The Seastar.”

1:30   End.
                              JEWISH TEXTS ON TZEDAKAH


1. From Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, Laws of Megillah 2:16-17: It is better for people to
spend more on gifts to the poor for Purim than for their own Purim meal, for there is no greater
joy than to bring happiness to the hearts of the needy. One who does these things resembles
God, for it is written, “Thus says God: I live on high, yet I am with the oppressed and the
downtrodden.”


2. From Tosefta Brachot 4:1: A person should use his face, hands, and feet only to honor his
Creator.


3. Do Jews give to beggars? From Midrash Ruth: Rabbi Avoon said: The poor person
stands at your door, and the Holy One stands there too. If you give to that person, the Holy One
will bless you. For it is written, “God stands at the right hand of the needy” (Psalms 109:31).


4. What if they are fakes or frauds? From Darkhay Chayyim: Rabbi Chayyim of Tzantz
would teach: The merit of tzedakah is so great that I am happy to give to a hundred beggars
even if only one might actually be needy. Some people, however, act as if they are exempt from
giving tzedakah to a hundred beggars in the event that one might be a fraud.


5. What if someone cannot afford to give to the needy? From the Talmud, Gittin 7b: Even a
poor person, a subject of tzedakah, should give tzedakah.


6. How should I treat those to whom I give tzedakah? From Talmud, Brachot 58b: Rabbi
Chanina bar Chanina would leave his hand in his pocket so that a poor person who came to ask
would not feel humiliated (since he would not have to first reach into his pocket before offering
assistance). And from Talmud, Sukkah 49b: Rabbi Elazar would teach, “The reward of
tzedakah depends entirely upon the degree of kindness in it.”
                              TZEDAKAH ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO


☎ Bring a can or box of food to temple.

☎ Clean out your drawers and drop some clothing into a local drop-off bin.

☎ Next time, you have a lot of leftovers (from a party or the like, even a small one), give a call
to Volunteers of America out at the Westchester Airport. Their men’s shelter will send a van to
come and pick up your food donation.

☎ Call the JNF and plant a tree in Israel in honor or in memory of someone you love or
something you’ve done.

☎ Make a pushka (a tzedakah box) for your home (or even just your own room). Put money in
whenever something good (or even something sad) happens. When it’s full, you know what to
do.

☎ On one night of Chanukah, instead of receiving gifs, be a giver. Buy food, books or toys
and drop them off at a shelter.

☎ Put together a small performance group (music, comedy, clowning, anything!) and volunteer
at local hospitals, nursing homes, children’s hospitals/institutions.

☎ When you turn eighteen (sixteen, with parental permission): Donate blood. Save lives.

☎ Pick an issue that’s important to you. Write (or go and lobby) your elected
representative(s).



Need help figuring out how to do one of these? Call us. WCT wants to help you be a mentsch!
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


“CONFIRMATION ISRAEL SHABBAT SERVICE” PREPARATION

       NOTE: This session takes place during the week of the congregational Shabbat service
       the class will be leading.

Objectives:
☎ To prepare for class’s leading upcoming congregational Shabbat service (during which 11th
graders will speak about experiences on Trip to Israel).
☎ To experience leading congregational worship.
☎ To lay groundwork for leading of Confirmation Service on Shavuot.

Materials needed:
☎ 3 weeks prior: Delegate Hebrew prayers, so Cantor can monitor.
☎ Gray WCT siddur.
☎ WCT Religious School siddur/songbooks.
☎ Cantor.

Implementation:
0:00 Distribute siddurim and songbooks.

       Class selects music (words or transliteration can be added to service handout):
       ☎ Opening song, 1.
       ☎ Barechu, 4.
       ☎ Mi Chamocha, 7.
       ☎ V’shamru or Yismechu, 7-8.
       ☎ Pre-Silent Prayer, 12.
       ☎ Post-Silent Prayer, 13.
       ☎ Closing song, 21.

       Available parts, by page number (names should be added to handout):
       ☎ 2-3, one reader, Eng (b/m fam does candle-blessing).
       ☎ 4, one reader, Eng.
       ☎ 5, two readers, Eng.
       ☎ 8-9, one reader, Eng.
       ☎ 9 (back cover), one/two readers, Hebrew Avot v’Imahot.
       ☎ 9, one/two readers, Hebrew Gevurot.
       ☎ 11-12, two readers, Eng.
       ☎   13, one reader, Eng.
       ☎   14, two people, open Ark.
       ☎   14, three people, carry Torah scrolls.
       ☎   14, one/two readers, Heb Torah blessing.
       ☎   14, one/two readers, Heb Torah reading.
       ☎   14, one reader, Eng Torah reading.
       ☎   15, one/two readers, Heb Torah blessing.
       ☎   15, one person, Hagbah.
       ☎   15, one person, dress Torah.
       ☎   15, one person, sit with Torah (during Israel presentations).
       ☎   16, two people, open Ark (stay through Alenu).
       ☎   18 (bottom), two readers, Eng.
       ☎   22, entire class, Motzi.

0:30   Music rehearsal.

0:45   Choreography of service.

1:20   Once more through music.

1:30   End.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro



“TRIP TO ISRAEL” INFORMATION AND CHANUKAH FUN

       NOTE: This session takes place during the last scheduled class in December.

Objectives:
☎ To have an opportunity to speak with peers about upcoming NFTY Trip to Israel.
☎ To celebrate Chanukah!

Materials needed:
☎ Arrange for 3 11th/12th graders to spend evening with class, speaking with them about
NFTY Trip to Israel. Note: Must brief to speak positively about the program.
☎ Video: “Exodus” (cued up to boat scene).
☎ VCR.
☎ Chanukah fun program (Shar that Shir!).

Implementation:
0:00 Conversation with Confirmation Israel Trip “veterans” (Post-Confirmands).

       Some questions to throw at the veterans:
       ☎ What were the best and the worst food you ate in Israel?
       ☎ What was the strangest experience you had in Israel?
       ☎ Describe the most memorable Israeli you met there.
       ☎ Describe the most embarassing experience of someone on your trip.
       ☎ Describe the funniest experience of someone on your trip.
       ☎ Who did something on the trip that the rabbi should never hear about?
       ☎ What was the worst day of the trip?
       ☎ What was the best day of the trip?

0:30   Information:
       ☎ The trip includes ...
              ☎ 3 days in Prague (1000 year old Jewish community, site of Theresienstadt).
              ☎ 3-day Exodus cruise across Mediterranean to “Palestine,” to meet the real
              people, while simulating newspapers, ship PA announcements and more.
              ☎ 5 weeks in Israel: Jerusalem, archaeological digs, hiking, Negev, Tel Aviv,
              meet Israeli teens. Plus, Chavayah options: 5 days on kibbutz, hiking, mitzvah
              corps, sports, social action, arts, military service, study, or Hebrew ulpan.
       ☎ Scholarships available:
           ☎ NFTY. Program application has check-off to receive scholarship info.
           ☎ WCT. Ellen Block Conf Israel Study Fund. Grants and loans up to 25% of
           cost of trip. Application required, by March 1st. Notification ~April 15th.
           Where extraordinary need, additional $$ can be found.
           ☎ JCC-on-Hudson and UJA/Federation. Singer Family Award, by application.
           Chaverim Award, by nomination. Both in exchange for community service.

0:45   Some upbeat, fun Chanukah program.

       Shar that Shir!
       ☎
       ☎ Disney Movies (title and year within 10) (Movies, round 3)
       ☎
       ☎ Movies, TV Shows and Musicals

1:30   End.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


TORAH 1 – HOW IS THE TORAH TRUE?

Objectives:
☎ To explore, in the face of historical doubt, where “truth” exists in the Torah.
☎ To consider both the problems and the value of different categories of Torah (narrative, civil
laws, ritual laws).
☎ To begin considering the role Torah can play in our own lives.

Materials needed:
☎ Arrange for 3 guests to attend first half-hour. To role-play: scientist, historian and
poet/philosopher.
☎ 5 slides.
☎ Slide projector and screen.
☎ Scientist/historian/poet hats/costumes (as needed).
☎ “Torah Excerpts” (narrative, civil, ritual) – cut into individual passages.
☎ Chalkboard, chalk and eraser.

Implementation:
0:00 Discussion:
      ☎ Name some stuff you remember is in the Torah. LIST ON BOARD.
      ☎ Name the three most important events in the Torah. LIST ON BOARD.
      ☎ Circle (or add, as needed): Creation, Redemption and Revelation. These are the
      biggies ... also (for some) the most difficult to believe actually happened.
      ☎ What’s your response to Creation, Redemption and Revelation?
      ☎ Is the Torah true?

       ☎ For someone who’s trying to figure out just how important Judaism is going to be to
       them – especially someone receiving a terrific, secular education – some (or much) of
       what’s in the Torah can create a real stumbling block to Jewish affirmation.
       ☎ But I’m going to suggest to you that (just as with the necessity of understanding the
       effectiveness of prayer in a variety of categories) the demonstration of the value of Torah
       is to be found in more than the answer to, “Is it true?”
       ☎ I suggest that the real question ought to be: “HOW is the Torah true?”

0:15   Three Points of View on Torah.
       ☎ Introduce panel: scientist, historian, and poet/philosopher.
       ☎ Each brings a particular point of view to everything they see and experience.
       ☎ To demonstrate, I will place five slides on the screen. As each is shown, I will
       invite each guest to share his/her perception of what is on the screen. [Note: If you
       can’t bring in guests, can just ask students to volunteer what such a guest would say if
       they were with us.]

       Slide 1: Waterfall.
       ☎ Scientist: Forces of centrifugality (caused by spinning of earth) and gravity causing
       otherwise motionless body of water to be pushed over ledge.
       ☎ Historian: 10,000 years ago, no human had ever seen this waterfall. 500 years ago,
       ancient Incas led their primitive water-rituals here. Today, Carnival Cruises hold
       afternoon picnics here for its “Love Boat” excursions.
       ☎ Poet/Philosopher: Where did this water originate? To where is it going? What
       events in history has it seen?

       Slide 2: City Skyline.
       ☎ Scientist: Technology defying force of gravity, permitting human beings to reside in
       upper stratosphere.
       ☎ Historian: 100 years ago, two-story office buildings overseeing a then-busy city-life.
       100 years before that, frontier, Native Americans. 100 years before that, inhabited only
       by bears, wolves and other four-footed creatures. And before that, back to the dawn of
       creation.
       ☎ Poet/Philosopher: Impact of humanity on natural world. Manipulating air, water,
       earth, fire ... to reach its own selfish ends. Where is the rest of Creation?

       Slide 3: Feces.
       ☎ Scientist: Human body takes in foreign matter, converts into fuel, and ejects waste.
       ☎ Historian: Upon examination, learn not only what the person who excreted was
       eating, but whether he was urban or rural, civilized or not. A window into an entire
       civilization.
       ☎ Poet/Philosopher: Life lived well. We come into the world. We live our days.
       And leave behind traces of ourselves. Not quite a gift, but a message (perhaps) to those
       who follow.

       Slide 4: A Child’s Face.
       ☎ Scientist: 70% water, plus skin, bone, cartilege. We understand muscular
       contraction and which muscles create a smile, but can’t give definitive answer why we’ve
       been graced with such an ability.
       ☎ Historian: Who are this child’s parents? Grandparents? From where did they
       come? And what will this child’s destiny become? A singer, teacher ... perhaps
       President of the United States?
       ☎ Poet/Philosopher: The wonder of a smile. Entire worlds can be changed by the
       love of a single person. Destroyed by the darkness in a severed soul.

0:30   Discussion:
       ☎ Which of our guests is telling the truth?
       ☎ Answer: All of them; there are many truths.

0:35   Final slide: Torah.
       ☎ How do you think our guests will respond?
       ☎ The 3 guests respond.

       Slide 5: An Open Torah Scroll.
       ☎ Scientist: Pieces of animal parchment, upon which inked letters have been placed,
       sewn together, and attached to rollers of wood. Will later be protected from elements by
       being placed under a mantle and inside an Ark.
       ☎ Historian: How many histories in a single scroll? First, the history of the
       congregation that keeps it. Second, the history of the person who wrote it. Third, the
       history of the people who have studied it across the generations. And finally, the story in
       the Torah itself. Many histories, all wrapped up into one.
       ☎ Poet/Philosopher: How many generations have tried to understand these ancient,
       sacred words? How many have sought to reveal God’s will to all humankind? For
       3000 years, these parchments have been studied by a multitude, yet truly understood by
       few if any. Ah, how God in Heaven torments our stay on earth.

       Points:
       ☎ This question, “How is the Torah true?” has many different answers. Our guests’
       answers are certainly not the only ones.
       ☎ Over the next few weeks, we’ll be encouraging you to form your own response to
       this question.

0:45   Form a circle.

       Explain:
       ☎ We’re now going to spend some time looking at what’s literally in the Torah.
       ☎ Each student is given one brief section of Torah.
       ☎ Go around circle, having each student read section aloud.
       ☎ Instruct: Stand up. Try and figure out which Torah passages are of a similar type,
       and bring those passages (and their owners) together into one of three groups. Prepare to
       present your group’s conclusion about what your category of Torah is (including 3
       examples as proof).

       After excercise is completed:
       ☎ Return to circle.
       ☎ Groups present.
       ☎ Final categories should be: narratives, civil laws, ritual laws.

       Discuss:
       ☎ What is important to you about:
           - the narrative sections?
           - the civil laws?
           - the ritual laws?
       ☎ What is problematic to you about:
           - the narrative sections? (questions of historicity)
           - the civil laws? (slavery, yibum/chalitzah)
           - the ritual laws? (outdated)
       ☎ Why do religions have sacred texts?
       ☎ Why is this text sacred to us?

       Conclusion:
       ☎ Some aspects of Torah, we immediately recognize as valuable. Others, problematic.
       ☎ These next few weeks will give us information about how the Torah has been
       meaningful in different generations of Jewish history.
       ☎ The end goal, of course, is that you should come to some reasonable, meaningful
       conclusions about Torah for yourselves ... what you can confirm (at this point in your life)
       about Torah.

1:30   End.
                                    TORAH EXCERPTS
                            Narratives, Civil Laws, and Ritual Laws


NARRATIVES:


Genesis, chapter 12: God said to Abraham, “Go forth from your native land, to the land that I
will show you. I will bless you in the land of Canaan.


Genesis, chapter 18: When Abraham heard that the evil cities of Sodom and Gemorrah were to
be destroyed, he began to argue with God about it. Abraham said it was unfair for even a few
innocent people in those cities to be condemned to death because of the others.


Genesis, chapter 25: When Jacob and Esau grew up, Esau became a hunter while Jacob became
a milder man. Once, when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau cam in from the fields. He was so
tired, he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew.


Genesis, chapter 37: Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit. They thought about killing him,
but decided to sell him to some traders on their way to Egypt.


Exodus, chapter 3: Moses saw a bush that was on fire, but wasn’t being consumed. God called
to Moses from the bush, telling him, “I have heard the cries of My people in Egypt. I am going
to rescue them from slavery.”


Exodus, chapter 5: Moses went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says Adonai, the God of
Israel: Let My people go!”


Exodus, chapter 14: Then Moses held out his arm over the Sea. The waters split, and the
Israelites went into the Sea on dry ground. The Egyptians came in pursuit after them, but God
closed the waters over the Egyptians.


Exodus, chapter 19: Three months after the Israelites had left Egypt, they arrived to Mount
Sinai. Moses told them to prepare themselves for something special. On the third day, God
said, “I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.”


CIVIL LAWS:
Exodus, chapter 22: If you lend money to someone who is poor, do not charge him interest.
You cannot take his coat or anything important to his health and family to force him to pay you
back.


Exodus, chapter 22: If a fire breaks out on your property and spreads to another person’s
property, you are responsible for the damage which happens.

Exodus, chapter 23: Do not take bribes. Do not act as a false witness.


Leviticus, chapter 19: You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor. You shall not
treat the stranger who lives among you unfairly. You shall love him as yourself, for you were
once strangers in the land of Egypt.


Deuteronomy, chapter 19: When you enter the land of Canaan, you must set us cities of refuge.
These cities shall be places where someone who accidentally kills another person can go for
safety until a proper trial is held.


Deuteronomy, chapter 22: When you build a new house, you shall make a guardrail on your
roof so that people cannot fall and be hurt.


Deuteronomy, chapter 24: When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the
field, do not turn back to get it. It belongs to the stranger and the poor.


RITUAL LAWS:


Exodus, chapter 12: This holiday shall be one of remembrance. Seven days you shall eat
unleavened bread.


Exodus, chapter 20: Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and
do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Adonai your God.


Leviticus, chapter 11: These are the creatures that are kosher. Any animal that has a cleft-hoof
and that chews its cud. So the cow is permitted because it has a cloven hoof and chews its cud.
But the pig is not permitted because although its hoof is cloven, it does not chew its cud.
Leviticus, chapter 16: On the Day of Atonement, the priests shall seek forgiveness for the
people and themselves with a series of sacrifices.


Leviticus, chapter 23: When Rosh Hashanah arrives, you shall take the shofar and blow on it for
all to hear.


Leviticus, chapter 23: On the fifteenth day of the month, there shall be a Feast of Sukkot. You
shall dwell in booths for seven days.


Deuteronomy, chapter 8: When you have eaten and are satisfied, give thanks to God with a
blessing and a prayer.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


TORAH 2 – WHAT WAS THE TORAH?

Objectives:
☎ To understand what the Torah meant to different generations of Jews: biblical times, and
post-biblical through the 18th century.
☎ To understand the Torah’s original function as a Constitution for an agricultural society.
☎ To understand how Torah remained flexible through the 17th century, being reinterpreted
and successfully re-applied to succeeding generations.

Materials needed:
☎ “Torah Concentration” cards.
☎ Packet, including:
       ☎ “Torah Concentration Game” (for future reference)
       ☎ “The Goring Ox – A Simulation of Biblical Judicial Law”
       ☎ “The Need for Change ... in Torah and the U.S. Constitution”
       ☎ “A Day (okay, 2200 years) in the Life of a Verse”
☎ Pens or pencils.

Implementation:
0:00 Let’s examine what the Torah meant to Jewish communities through history – its function
      in Ancient Israel, and up through the 18th century.

       Discuss:
       ☎ When the founders of the United States of America were creating this nation, what
       kinds of organizational structures did they put into place?
       ☎ Constitution, legislature (laws), holidays (rituals) and, over time, narratives (George
       Washington and cherry tree, Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin, Paul Bunyan, etcetera).
       ☎ That’s Torah! That’s what it was.
       ☎ The founding fathers of Ancient Israel and of the USA put together the components
       needed to forge their community.
       ☎ In Ancient Israel, they put it all in one place – the Torah!
       ☎ Let’s demonstrate the parallels.

       “Torah Concentration” game.
       ☎ Mix up “Concentration” cards and lay out, face down.
       ☎ Divide into two teams.
       ☎ Teams try to “match” Israelite component with American component.
       ☎ Once matched, move the matched cards side-by-side (for reference during
       discussion).
       ☎ In the interest of maintaining everyone’s involvement in the game, there should be no
       repeated turns for correct matches.

       After game, discuss:
       ☎ So how is that our most sacred religious document has so much in common with
       American culture?
       ☎ Because, for the ancient Israelites, the Torah functioned as their Constitution!
       ☎ Yes, it had many religious components to it, but even the religious pieces served to
       govern and regulate day-to-day national life.
       ☎ The following should help illustrate.

0:30   Biblical Law Simulation:
       ☎ Distribute packet: “The Goring Ox – A Simulation of Biblical Judicial Law.”
       ☎ Read through affidavit describing case.
       ☎ Ask: Any ideas how to solve such a case?
       ☎ Read through witness testimonies.
       ☎ Ask: If you were the judge, how might you rule?
       ☎ Read through Torah material.
       ☎ Ask class to discuss and render a decision based upon these laws.

       Point:
       ☎ The goring ox case should provide ample illustration of how the Torah functioned as
       a Constitution for the ancient Israelites.

1:00   Discussion of U.S. Constitution and how it has changed.

       Ratified in 1789.
       ☎ Amended for first time in 1791, after Congress had ratified but before the States
       would do so.
       ☎ Currently, 26 amendments.

       Why was it amended?
       ☎ Didn’t quite fit needs of country.
       ☎ Either omitted law that needed to be added later.
       ☎ Or changed law that no longer served needs of the people.

       Who can tell me about ...?
       What was it?
       Why was there a need for it?

       Amendment 12 (1804): Provides for the Electoral College.
       ☎ Before this, each voter cast two votes for President and Vice-President, not
       specifying which vote was for which office.
       ☎ First place became President, runner-up would be Vice-President.
       ☎ In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied, throwing the election into the House
       of Representatives.
       ☎ It took so long, people feared they wouldn’t have a President on Inauguration Day.

       Amendment 13 (1865): Abolished slavery.
       ☎ The framers of the Constitution had not envisioned had not envisioned problem of
       involuntary servitude.
       ☎ Declaration of Independence reads: All men are created equal ... and that all
       possess the right to liberty.
       ☎ Did we need a 13th amendment? Is Declaration of Independence a code of law?
       Only until ratification of Constitution (see modern Israel).

       Amendment 18 (1919): Prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of liquor.
       ☎ Repealed in 1933 by the 21st amendment!
       ☎ What does this tell us about our most important document?
       ☎ It’s not perfect, since it permits change according to which direction the political
       winds are blowing.
       ☎ And it is perfect, because it allows us to correct ourselves.

       Amendment 14 (1920): Provided women with the right to vote.
       ☎ After 40 years of previously rejected amendments.

       Amendment 24 (1964): Prohibited poll taxes.
       ☎ Had been used to prevent impoverished African-Americans from voting.

       Amendment 26 (1971): Gave 18 year olds the right to vote.
       ☎ Passed during Vietnam War era; slogan was, “Old enough to die, old enough to
       vote.”

1:05   Discussion of the Torah as a Constitution that has changed:

       ☎ Same was true of Torah; began as constitution for agricultural society but needed
       amending as time went forward.
       ☎ In addition, some quite vague; in need of clarification.
       ☎ Look at examples: Pesach, Yom Kippur, War.

       A problem with the mitzvot concerning Pesach?
       ☎ From Exodus 12:14-15. This season shall be one of remembrance for you. Seven
       days you shall eat unleavened bread, so that you may remember how I brought you out of
       the land of Egypt.
       ☎ Is this our modern Pesach?
       ☎ What’s missing? The seder.
       ☎ What got added? How? Why? The Haggadah. Need to accurately retell the
       story each year. Need to clarify meaning of Pesach symbols in a time when Christianity
       was attempting to co-opt them (e.g., wine as blood, matzo as body of Christ).
       ☎ Note use of key-words: remembrance, remember. The mitzvah is to remember.

       A problem with the mitzvot concerning Yom Kippur?
       ☎ From Leviticus 16. On the Day of Atonement, the priests shall seek forgiveness for
       the people and themselves with a series of sacrifices. The shall be burnt offerings and
       sin offerings of rams and bulls to seek forgiveness.
       ☎ What has changed? Why?
       ☎ Destruction of Temple ended priestly sacrifices. Need for new rituals to effect
       atonement.

       A problem with the mitzvot concerning war?
       ☎ When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to capture it,
       you shall not destroy (lo tash’khit) the trees by wielding an axe against them, for you may
       eat of them. You should not cut them down. Are the trees in the field people that they
       should be besieged by you?
       ☎ WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TEACH?
       ☎ May not cut down trees when you attack a city.
       ☎ Any tree? Fruit-bearing trees (“for you may eat of them”).
       ☎ WHAT QUESTIONS ARISE FROM THE TEXT?
       ☎ Is there a problem here?
       ☎ Is all the wording clear?
       ☎ What about the application (i.e., destroying in time of war) – any other questions
       arise?
       ☎ What about destroying in a time of peace?
       ☎ What about destroying something other than trees?
       ☎ And what exactly constitutes a tree “you may eat of”? How much fruit must a tree
       produce to be considered “fruit-bearing”?

1:15   A Day in the Life of a Verse (based on Torah Aura lesson):
       ☎ Figuring out what Torah means, and answering the questions not answered, is what
       Jews have been doing for 2500 years.
       ☎ Look at the sheet, “A Day (okay, 2200 years) in the Life of a Verse.”
       ☎ The Torah, you’re familiar with (except maybe when it was written down, circa 500
       BCE).
       ☎ The other four books (Mishna, Talmud, Mishneh Torah, and Shulkhan Arukh)
       consist of major collections of Jewish laws from across 2200 years since the Torah was
       written down.
       ☎ In many cases, we can follow a progression as a law is modified and adapted to new
       circumstances in new generations.
       ☎ Read through the four passages at the bottom of the page, and try to put them in
       chronological order, placing the number of the passage in the space beneath the book in
       which you think the passage first appeared.

       Mishna – Shevi’it 4:10 (ca 200 CE)
       How much fruit should an olive tree produce so that it may be considered a fruit-bearing
       tree and should not be cut down (lo tash’khit)? Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel taught, “A
       rova.” (A rova is 33.6 cubic inches)
       ☎ WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TEACH?
       ☎ A rova is the amount that determines if fruit-bearing.
       ☎ Not just wartime (Israel no longer a nation; not likely to “besiege”), but anytime
       (implied by no longer mentioning war).
       ☎ QUESTIONS:
       ☎ Is this the only wasteful act, or are there others that would be outlawed under this
       legislation?

       Talmud – Kiddushin 32a (ca 500 CE)
       Whoever breaks vessels, or tears garments, or destroys a building, or clogs up a well, or
       does away with food in a destructive manner violates the negative mitzvah of bal
       tash’khit (don’t be wasteful).
       ☎ WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TEACH?
       ☎ Additional prohibited actions classified as wasteful; these are things that someone
       might be able to use constructively.
       ☎ QUESTIONS:
       ☎ What about materials with which people are buried?

       Mishneh Torah – Mourning 14:24 (Moses Maimonides, 12th century)
       One should be trained not to be destructive. When you bury a person, do not waste
       garments by burying them in the grave. It is better to give them to the poor than to cast
       them to worms and moths. Anyone who buries the dead in an expensive garment
       violates the negative mitzvah of bal tash’khit.
       ☎ WHAT DOES THIS PASSAGE TEACH?
       ☎ Shroud burial (also, plain pine boxes).
       ☎ QUESTIONS:
       ☎ Is there a general principle (klal) that can be derived from the specific law (p’rat) in
       the Torah?

       Shulkhan Arukh – Laws of Body and Soul, Section 14 (Yosef Karo, 16th century)
       It is forbidden to destroy anything that can be useful to people.

1:25   Conclusion:
       ☎ This is pretty much what the process was through the 17th century.
       ☎ Torah was a very fluid process. They never stopped believing it came from God,
       “knew” they were to govern their lives by it, but also believed that God wanted them to
       interpret Torah and apply it to new times and new circumstances.
       ☎ At the end of the 18th century, an event took place that would forever change how
       Jews related to Torah, and to the world around them.
       ☎ It was the French Revolution. It turned a light on Jewish life that made it incredibly
       difficult, and sometimes impossible, to live the way they’d done for so many centuries.
       ☎ That’s what we’ll look at next week.

1:30   End.
                           “TORAH CONCENTRATION” GAME

Ancient Israel                                    United States of America
========================                          ========================
01. Torah.                                        19. Constitution.
03. In the beginning ...                          28. We the people ...
05. If a man dies and has no son, his brother     11. Every marriage must be registered with
must marry his widow.                             the state.
07. Abraham.                                      04. George Washington.
08. Shofar on Rosh Hashanah.                      14. Fireworks on the Fourth of July.
10. If a man steals an ox, he must pay for five   24. The minimum sentence for breaking and
oxen in return.                                   entering shall be two and a half years.
13. Moses.                                        36. Abraham Lincoln.
16. The roof of every house must have a           31. Building code #4368-B.
guardrail.
17. Do not place a stumbling block before the     15. There shall be no discrimination based on
blind.                                            physical disabilities.
20. Shema.                                        06. Pledge of Allegiance.
21. If a man is unhappy with his wife, he may     23. If a divorce is uncontested, the couple
write her a bill of divorce.                      must be legally separated for a year.
22. Jerusalem.                                    12. Washington, D.C.
26. King.                                         25. President.
29. Matzo on Pesach.                              18. Turkey on Thanksgiving.
32. Cities of refuge for someone accused of a     02. A person is innocent until proven guilty.
crime.
33. A mezuzah on every Jewish building.           09. Every federal building shall display the
                                                  American flag.
34. Sukkot.                                       30. Thanksgiving.
35. Let my people go.                             27. Emancipation Proclamation.




Note: This list is indeed complete (even though it may not look it) – it contains numbers 01-36.
           THE NEED FOR CHANGE ... in Torah and the U.S. Constitution

In the Constitution
• Ratified in 1789.
• Amended for first time in 1791, after Congress had ratified but before the States would do so.

•   Amendment 12 (1804):    Provides for the Electoral College.
•   Amendment 13 (1865):    Abolished slavery.
•   Amendment 18 (1919):    Prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of liquor.
•   Amendment 14 (1920):    Provided women with the right to vote.
•   Amendment 24 (1964):    Prohibited poll taxes.
•   Amendment 26 (1971):    Gave 18 year olds the right to vote.

In the Torah

A problem with the mitzvot concerning Pesach?
• From Exodus 12:14-15. This season shall be one of remembrance for you. Seven days you
shall eat unleavened bread, so that you may remember how I brought you out of the land of
Egypt.

A problem with the mitzvot concerning Yom Kippur?
• From Leviticus 16. On the Day of Atonement, the priests shall seek forgiveness for the
people and themselves with a series of sacrifices. The shall be burnt offerings and sin offerings
of rams and bulls to seek forgiveness.

A problem with the mitzvot concerning war?
• When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to capture it, you shall
not destroy (lo tash’khit) the trees by wielding an axe against them, for you may eat of them.
You should not cut them down. Are the trees in the field people that they should be besieged by
you?
                  A DAY (okay, 2200 years) IN THE LIFE OF A VERSE


Torah – Deuteronomy 20:19-20 (ca 500 BCE)
When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to capture it, you shall
not destroy (lo tash’khit) the trees by wielding an axe against them, for you may eat of them.
You should not cut them down. Are the trees in the field people that they should be besieged by
you?

Mishnah – Shevi’it 4:10 (ca 200 CE)
Number: ___

Talmud – Kiddushin 32a (ca 500 CE)
Number: ___

Mishneh Torah – Mourning 14:24 (Moses Maimonides, 12th century)
Number: ___

Shulkhan Arukh – Laws of Body and Soul, Section 14 (Yosef Karo, 16th century)
Number: ___




#1: Whoever breaks vessels, or tears garments, or destroys a building, or clogs up a well, or
does away with food in a destructive manner violates the negative mitzvah of bal tash’khit (don’t
be wasteful).

#2: How much fruit should an olive tree produce so that it may be considered a fruit-bearing
tree and should not be cut down (lo tash’khit)? Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel taught, “A rova.”
(A rova is 33.6 cubic inches)

#3: It is forbidden to destroy anything that can be useful to people.

#4: One should be trained not to be destructive. When you bury a person, do not waste
garments by burying them in the grave. It is better to give them to the poor than to cast them to
worms and moths. Anyone who buries the dead in an expensive garment violates the negative
mitzvah of bal tash’khit.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


TORAH 3 – THE ROLE OF TORAH IN A FREE SOCIETY

Objectives:
☎ To understand how the equality and civil rights of 19th century emancipated Europe affected
the Jewish community’s perception of Torah and religious law.
☎ To consider how it must have felt, for the first time since life in ancient Israel, to suddenly
be able to make Jewish choices.

Materials needed:
☎ Paper cups (55 per group).
☎ Prepare “Cup Exercise” space. Must make sure that all sources of light (including “Exit”
signs) are completely blacked out (otherwise, even the smallest amount of light will become an
unwelcome help to the cup pyramid builders).
☎ Pencils.
☎ Handout: “Components of the Traditional, pre-Emancipation Jewish Lifestyle.”

Implementation:
0:00 Without telling them why, place students in “cup building” teams, ready to go.

       Review from last week:
       ☎ Through the 17th century, Torah was a very fluid process.
       ☎ Jews never stopped believing it came from God, “knew” they were to govern their
       lives by it, but also believed that God wanted them to interpret Torah and apply it to new
       times and new circumstances.
       ☎ At the end of the 18th century, an event took place that would forever change how
       Jews related to Torah, and to the world around them.
       ☎ It was the French Revolution. It turned a light on Jewish life that made it incredibly
       difficult, and sometimes impossible, to live the way they’d done for so many centuries.
       ☎ Let’s demonstrate.

0:05   “Cups” exercise:
       ☎ Distribute 55 cups to each team.
       ☎ Explain:
             ☎ Your team’s task is simply this: Build a cup pyramid (10 across the bottom,
             total of 55 cups).
             ☎ Really very easy. Except ...
             ☎ You won’t have any light, so I suggest you learn to speak quietly and listen
            really well to each other.
       ☎ Lights OFF.

0:20   Discussion (in dark):
       ☎ What rules are needed to build a pyramid in the dark?
       ☎ Forget the cups; what if you had to live down here in dark a week?
       ☎ What if we lived in a world which, for centuries, had been in dark; how would we
       be living?
       ☎ What would happen if lights were suddenly turned on?
       ☎ How would things change? How might some things stay the same, unchanged?
       (Lights ON)

0:35   Explain:
       ☎ This happened to European Jewry; Emancipation, 1789.
       ☎ Until Emancipation (1789), Torah remained our “Constitution.”
       ☎ After Emancipation, for some (orthodox Jews, with a small “o”) Torah would remain
       Constitution.
       ☎ But for many, many more (our recent ancestors among them), Torah law risked
       driving Jews away from Judaism.

0:40    “Components” exercise.

       Explain:
       ☎ The following exercise is not an easy one.
       ☎ You’ll have responses to all the questions, but the challenge is to respond from a
       certain mindset.
       ☎ What mindset?
               ☎ Well, imagine (and I mean, really imagine) that you and your family had been
               living all you life, and for the last ten generations, behind ghetto walls – allowed
               to venture out during the day to conduct business, but locked in each night to
               protect the non-Jewish public from you.
               ☎ Imagine that you’d only known, lived with, played with, learned with other
               Jewish people.
               ☎ And that the Jewish practices listed on the sheet I’m about to hand you ...
               were practices you had been doing pretty much every day of your life since the
               day you were born.
               ☎ That your parents and your grand-parents had done them since the day they
               were born.
               ☎ But now, since the Emancipation of 1789, you’ve been invited to come out of
               the ghetto, and to live and work and play and learn with the non-Jewish
               community too.
       ☎ This is the mindset.
       ☎ And it is with this mindset that you need to try and complete this form.
       Distribute pencils, and sheet: “Components of the Traditional, pre-Emancipation Jewish
       Lifestyle”

       Explain:
       ☎ Remember, you’re filling this out for the Jewish people I just described to you.
       ☎ Simply place a check in the column that you feel is the most appropriate response to
       the Emancipation of 1789.

       After forms are completed:
       ☎ What must it have felt like to suddenly be able to change anything?
       ☎ What criteria do you suppose they used? What kinds of questions do you suppose
       they asked?
       ☎ What criteria do we use today? What kinds of questions do we ask?
       ☎ How similar are the responses/criteria/questions of that generation and ours? Are
       they the same? Ought they be?
       ☎ What kinds of responsibilities did they have (do we have today) when making such
       decisions?

       Conclusion:
       ☎ As dramatic a shift in Jewish life and observance this all represented, it was also the
       foundation for the Judaism that has come down through recent generations to each of
       you: Reform Judaism.
       ☎ Next week, you’ll be challenged to make your own choices about the role of Torah
       and Jewish observance in your life today.
       ☎ You’ll have the opportunity – as Reform Jews who carry a 3000-year old legacy of
       Jewish life and tradition – to try and become a “Jewish Survival Expert.”

1:30   End.
      COMPONENTS OF THE TRADITIONAL, PRE-EMANCIPATION JEWISH LIFESTYLE
                       Don’t Forget: Answer as a Jew in 1789!

                                Shouldn’t   Change     Change   Eliminate
                                change      a little   a lot

Daily prayer each morning



Daily prayer each evening



Eating only kosher food



Day of rest on Saturday



Close all businesses on
Saturday



Schooling for children
basically Torah & Talmud



Only boys sent to school



Men always wear tzitzit



Men always wear kipot



Jews marry only Jews



All baby boys are circumcised



Only boys become Bar Mitzvah
Marriage & divorce overseen by
rabbis & laws of Torah & Talmud



All lawsuits settled by rabbis
according to Torah & Talmud



All Jews pay additional
tzedakah “income tax”
to Jewish community
      COMPONENTS OF THE TRADITIONAL, PRE-EMANCIPATION JEWISH LIFESTYLE
                  For Many, It Was As If the Choices Looked Like This!

                                    Shouldn’t   Change     Change   Eliminate
                                    change      a little   a lot

Daily washing each morning



Daily exercise each evening



Don’t eat stolen food



Don’t tapdance on the needle-
points your grandmother made



Don’t sell your father’s clothes



Schooling for children basically
reading, writing & arithmetic



Only live children receive
medical treatment



No shoes, no shirt, no service



Our kids should not marry gerbils



Babies should beheld and cuddled



Only girls should wear dresses



The government should not be
allowed to read our mail or
observe us on the Internet
Everyone, with children or not,
must pay additional taxes to fund
our public schools
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


TORAH 4 – TORAH IN OUR LIVES TODAY

Objectives:
☎ To consider what it means to live contemporary Reform Jewish lives that are filled with integrity.
☎ To explore what is “true” about the Torah passages regarding Creation, Redemption and Revelation.
☎ To “try on” an answer to the question, “How is the Torah true?”

Materials needed:
☎ Completed “Jewish Survival Expert” forms (a set of 3 for every 3 students).
☎ One blank “Jewish Survival Expert” form per student.
☎ Another two blank copies of “Jewish Survival Expert” for each student to take home (for parents to
complete and return).
☎ Pens.

Implementation:
0:00 Review last week:
      ☎ Emancipation Europe prompted a dramatic shift in Jewish life and observance (remember the
      cups).
      ☎ It was also the foundation for the Judaism that has come down through recent generations to
      each of you: Reform Judaism.
      ☎ This week, you’ll be challenged to make your own choices about the role of Torah and Jewish
      observance in your life today.
      ☎ You’ll have the opportunity – as Reform Jews who carry a 3000-year old legacy of Jewish life
      and tradition – to try and become a “Jewish Survival Expert.”

       Discuss:
       ☎ Being free to choose whatever we want is a double-edged sword. How so? [Can choose to
       do nothing of integrity, and therefore plant seeds of own cultural destruction.]
       ☎ So with this warning in mind, how do we make our decisions? What kinds of questions
       should we be asking? What kinds of responsibilities do we have when making decisions about
       our Jewish lives?

       Point:
       ☎ It all comes down to this ...
       ☎ It’s easy to be a Reform Jew. But it’s far more difficult to be a Reform Jew with integrity.
       ☎ How do we do it?
       ☎ Perhaps, by looking at the records of those who claim to be experts in Jewish survival.

0:10   Distribute the completed “Jewish Survival Expert” forms (a set of 3 for every 3 students).
       Explain:
       ☎ These three individuals – Ritual Rich, Cultural Carl and Ethical Ethel – are applying to you,
       the Board of Overseers for a new Reform Jewish communal organization called “A Jewish Life of
       Integrity,” for a most-coveted award that is presented annually to Jewish individuals who are living
       Reform Jewish lives of exceptional integrity ... that person is indeed ... a Jewish Survival Expert!
       ☎ Won’t you look over these forms for a few minutes and put together some preliminary
       thoughts about these candidates?
       ☎ We’ll reconvene in about five minutes.

       After five minutes, discuss:
       ☎ How do you rate the integrity of our candidates’ Jewish lives?
       ☎ What are their strengths and/or weaknesses?
       ☎ Who, if any, do you recommend to be honored as a Jewish Survival Expert.

       Point:
       ☎ While one of the greatnesses of Reform Judaism is that each one of us is free to choose how
       we want to observe Judaism ...
       ☎ It is also Reform Judaism’s greatest challenge ... for one thing is absolutely clear: If Reform
       Judaism is to survive with any integrity at all, we must understand that we are not free to do
       nothing!
       ☎ Each of us has the responsibility of learning about Judaism, and selecting a significantly
       meaningful number of practices, so that ours becomes a Reform Jewish life with integrity.

       Distribute blank “Jewish Survival Expert” forms (one per student) and pens.
       ☎ To assist you in making progress in this direction, we’d like each of you to apply now for the
       title, “Jewish Survival Expert.”
       ☎ As you complete the form, don’t just write what you like or presently find meaningful.
       Rather, push yourself to think about both what’s good for you, and what’s good for your
       community.
       ☎ So complete the application not necessarily based upon what you do today, but on what you
       think a person such as yourself ought to do.

       When applications are complete:
       ☎ Turn in.
       ☎ Take two copies home for parents to complete. Bring back next week.

0:45   Distribute copies of Torah commentary.
       ☎ As we put the finishing touches on our Torah unit for the Confirmation program this year, it’s
       appropriate to spend just a few moments looking at one or two of the passages that got us going on
       all this to begin with: Creation, Redemption, and Revelation.
       ☎ We need to ask just one question about these passages:
       ☎ How is each one of them true?

       Discussion of Story of Creation (Genesis 1).
       ☎ Creation versus Darwin.
       ☎ What’s one element that science doesn’t include: tov m’od. Purpose not to establish how,
       but why.

       Discussion of Splitting of Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-29).
       ☎ Divine intervention.
       ☎ Why’s this here? Message of hope, of possibilities, of power for change.

       Discussion of Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:16 - 20:18).
       ☎ Did Torah come from Sinai or by human hand?

       Point:
       ☎ Across 3000 years and more, when our faith was clear and when our doubts were great, Torah
       has been a central component of Jewish living.
       ☎ Even as Reform Jews, the Torah remains at the center, a beacon of truth in difficult times.
       ☎ As children, Torah needed to be either true or false. As adults, understand there are many
       truths.
       ☎ Each of us must reconcile Torah’s position in our lives.
       ☎ Each of us must decide the role it will play, and the influence it will have, for us.
       ☎ It may not be easy to figure out (unless we take the easy way out by simply dismissing it), but
       3000 years of Jewish life tells us it’s an idea worth struggling with.

1:15   Distribute pens and pads of paper.
       ☎ To conclude our unit on Torah, one more bit of writing.
       ☎ Please write you name at the top, and this question:
       ☎ How is the Torah true?

1:30   End.
Confirmation Class
Rabbi Billy Dreskin
White Plains, NY


TORAH 5 – CONCLUDING SESSION – TORAH IN MY LIFE TODAY


Materials needed:
• “Jewish Survival Expert” forms.
• Pens.

Implementation:
• (7:00-7:20)
      • Dinner and Tzedakah.

• (7:20-7:40)
      • Prelim Discussion:
      • Ended last week with:
              • We’re free to make any Jwsh choices we like.
              • How do we make our decisions? What kinds of questions should we be asking?
              • What kinds of responsibilities do we have when making such decisions?
      • So the questions we turn to is:
              • WHAT MUST A PERSON DO TO LIVE A LIFE OF JEWISH INTEGRITY?

• (7:40-8:00)
      • Distrib “Jewish Survival Expert” forms.
      • Explain:
      • TO BROADEN YOUR SCOPE ... WE’RE HAVING YOU APPLY FOR POSITION OF
      “JEWISH SURVIVAL EXPERT.” COMPLETE APPLICATION BASED, NOT ON WHAT
      YOU DO TODAY, BUT ON WHAT YOU THINK SUCH A PERSON OUGHT TO DO.

• (8:00-8:20)
      • Process and discuss.

• (8:20-8:45)
      • Chart upcoming Confirmation Service:
      • Liturgy (readings, songs, Heb & Eng), creative writings in body of service (“What I’m
      Confirming”), Torah/Haft, D’var Torah, the Confirmation ceremony, plus any special creative
      twist incorporated by class.
      • As time permits, brainstorm.

• Calendar: Erev Shav – Thur, May 23, 7;30p – Shav Morn – Fri, May 24, 10:00a.
• Creative opportunities: write, read, music, art, Torah. What else?
• Theme: “From Mount Sinai to Me – the Confirmation Journey.”
                                        Application for Position of
                                    JEWISH SURVIVAL EXPERT

Name: __________________________________________


JEWISH SURVIVAL SKILLS (i.e., Mitzvot)
(N=Necessary; D=Desirable; U=Unnecessary)

N     D     U     VALUES:__I_believe_that_...
___   ___   ___   As God saw that Creation was good, so do I.
___   ___   ___   As the sea parted for our ancestors, miracles can also happen today.
___   ___   ___   As God taught our ancestors at Mount Sinai, there is a "right" way to live beyond what we think or
                  feel.
___   ___   ___   As Joseph forgave his brothers, we should also be forgiving.
___   ___   ___   As Abraham welcomed strangers, we should reach out to others.
___   ___   ___   As Moses fought to free our people, we should stand up for what is right.

                  ETHICS:__Jews_should_...
___   ___   ___   Give a portion of what they earn to the needy ("When you har-vest your crops, you shall leave
                  what falls to the ground and the edges of your field for the poor and the stranger.")
___   ___   ___   Respect the elderly ("You shall rise before the aged and show special concern for the old.")
___   ___   ___   Help Soviet and Ethiopian Jews ("Let my people go.")
___   ___   ___   Visit people who are sick (Once, when Abraham was convalesc-ing, three angels came to visit
                  him.)
___   ___   ___   Never hold grudges ("You shall not bear a grudge against an-other.")
___   ___   ___   Give all people the benefit of the doubt ("You shall not place a stumbling block before those who
                  will not see it.")
___   ___   ___   "Love your neighbor as yourself."
___   ___   ___   "Honor your mother and your father."
___   ___   ___   Take care of the earth ("If you must besiege a city, do not destroy its trees.")

                  RITUALS:__According_to_the_Torah,_a_Jew_should_...
___   ___   ___   Have a mezuzah at the entrance to the house.
___   ___   ___   Never have pork or shellfish in the house.
___   ___   ___   Never mix milk and meat.
___   ___   ___   Get married.
___   ___   ___   Marry a Jew.
___   ___   ___   Raise a family.
___   ___   ___   Eat matzo during Pesach.
___   ___   ___   Hear the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.
___   ___   ___   Observe a fast on Yom Kippur.
___   ___   ___   Teach Judaism to his/her children.
___   ___   ___   Wear a tallit.
___   ___   ___   Have a seder on Pesach.
___   ___   ___   Build a sukkah for Sukkot.
___   ___   ___   Celebrate Sukkot with lulav and etrog.
___   ___   ___   Refrain from working on Shabbat and holidays.

                  RITUALS:__According_to_later_developments,_a_Jew_should_...
___   ___   ___   Study Torah.
___   ___   ___   Study Hebrew.
___   ___   ___   Read Jewish books.
___   ___   ___   Recite the Motzi before meals.
___   ___   ___   Recite Birkat Hamazon after meals.
___   ___   ___   Visit Israel.
___   ___   ___   Become a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
___   ___   ___   Participate in Confirmation.
___   ___   ___   Give tzedakah during life's good moments (Bar Mitzvah, Confir-mation, birthdays, etcetera).
___   ___   ___   Wear a kipah.
___   ___   ___   Belong to a synagogue.
___   ___   ___   Attend services on Shabbat.
___   ___   ___   Attend services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
___   ___   ___   Attend services on Chanukah.
___   ___   ___   Attend services on Pesach.
___   ___   ___   Attend services on Shavuot.
___   ___   ___   Attend services on Sukkot.
___   ___   ___   Attend services on Yahrzeit (anniversary of relative's death).
___   ___   ___   Bring his/her baby before the Ark for a naming ceremony.
___   ___   ___   Recite Kaddish for one year following the death of a parent.
___   ___   ___   Light Shabbat candles.
___   ___   ___   Light Chanukah candles.
___   ___   ___   Recite the Kiddush and Motzi on Friday evenings.
___   ___   ___   Have a Havdalah (end of Shabbat) ceremony.
___   ___   ___   Spend time with family on Shabbat and holidays.
___   ___   ___   Remember the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
___   ___   ___   Do something special to celebrate Israel Independence Day.
___   ___   ___   Plant a tree in Israel on Tu B'Shevat.
___   ___   ___   Maintain Kashrut (keep kosher) at home.
___   ___   ___   Maintain Kashrut outside the home.
___   ___   ___   Sit Shiva for seven days when a family member dies.
___   ___   ___   Sit Shiva for three days when a family member dies.
___   ___   ___   Have an Aufruf (aliyah to the Torah in celebration of getting married).
___   ___   ___   Donate to Jewish causes.
___   ___   ___   Donate to non-Jewish causes.
___   ___   ___   Wear Tefillin during morning prayer.
___   ___   ___   Recite the Shema before going to sleep.


PERSONAL REFLECTION ON SURVIVAL STRATEGIES
(Please answer the following questions completely and thoughtfully.)


1. WHAT DOES TORAH MEAN TO YOU?




2. HOW IMPORTANT IS TORAH TO JEWISH SURVIVAL?
3. WHAT ROLE COULD THE OBSERVANCE OF TORAH (i.e., MITZVOT) PLAY IN YOUR (AND YOUR
FAMILY'S) LIFE? TRY TO GIVE CONCRETE EXAMPLES.
Confirmation Class
Rabbi Billy Dreskin
White Plains, NY


TORAH 6 – RELEVANCE OF CREATION/REDEMPTION/REVELATION


Materials needed:
• The Torah: A Modern Commentary.
• Pads.
• Pen.

Implementation:
• (6:00-6:30)
     • Dinner and Tzedakah.

• (6:30-7:40)
     • Debate.
     • Examine: Genesis 1.
     • Creation versus Darwin.

     • Discussion of Splitting of Red Sea.
     • Examine: Exodus 14:10-29.

     • Debate: Did Torah come from Sinai or by human hand?
     • Examine: Exodus 19:16 - 20:18 (Sinai and 10 Commandments)

• (7:40-8:00)
      • Write: How is the Torah true? (10 min)
      • Share (10 min).
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


ISRAEL 1 – WHAT ABOUT INTERMARRIAGE?

Objectives:
☎ To understand that love doesn’t necessarily “conquer all,” and that sometimes hard, even painful
work and decisions may be required in our relationships.
☎ To become aware of some of the important issues and challenges surrounding intermarriage.
☎ To know that they synagogue will always be an available resource for them as they explore and make
decisions about love and marriage.

Materials needed:
☎ TV/VCR.
☎ Video: Fiddler on the Roof (cued to “Do You Love Me?” – 2nd tape, 2nd scene)
☎ Video: When Love Meets Tradition (12-minute trigger version)

Implementation:
0:00 Move to TV/VCR.

     Explain (tongue-in-cheek):
     ☎ Judaism has much to say about how we relate to one another.
     ☎ Here is documentary footage of one of history’s most successful relationships.

     View “Do You Love Me?”

     Discuss:
     ☎ What is love?
     ☎ Contrast the love between ourselves and friends, family, and significant other.
     ☎ What is infatuation?
     ☎ Can you tell the difference?
     ☎ What ought it feel like being in love?
     ☎ What makes people fall in love?
     ☎ What makes people stay in love?
     ☎ Pick a couple you think to be eternally in love. Describe and comment.
     ☎ [MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION TO GET TO] Does love conquer all?

0:30 Introduce next video:
     ☎ When you imagine your future, fifteen years or so from now, do you see your children having a
     B’rit Milah/Chayim, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, Graduation, chuppah, Jewish children of their
     own?
     ☎ If you marry someone who isn’t Jewish, will all of this happen?
     ☎ Intermarriage is a confusing and volatile issue.
     ☎ No one’s sure how good or how bad it is.
     ☎ What we do know is that it’s extremely important for us to be very careful how we make
     decisions regarding religion and our relationships.
     ☎ Some couples do fine despite religious differences; others fall apart because of them.
     ☎ We’ve seen this video once already (during Family Session 2), but it’s important for us to talk
     about it without our parents around.
     ☎ While you’re watching, ask yourself: Could that be me on the screen?

     Show video: When Love Meets Tradition (12 minutes).

     Discuss:
     ☎ Is intermarriage a possibility in your future?
     ☎ What’s okay about intermarriage?
     ☎ What problems might there be in an intermarriage?
           - What kind of wedding ceremony.
           - Pressure from parents.
           - Baptism versus B’rit Milah.
           - Raising children as Jews, non-Jews, nothing, both, something entirely different.
           - Join church or synagogue ... or both ... or neither.
           - Re-emergence of either spouse’s religious identity.
           - Burial in Jewish, Gentile, or secular cemetery.
     ☎ Some say intermarriage is “finishing Hitler’s job.” What do you think? Is intermarriage a
     threat to Jewish survival?
     ☎ Do you feel any responsibility for the transmission of Judaism to a next generation? Does
     intermarriage pose any conflict?
     ☎ What about inter-dating? Do you agree with those who say you’re setting behavior patterns
     that may very well lead to intermarriage?
     ☎ Do you know how your parents feel? Do you remember the kinds of things they said at our
     Family Session?

1:20 Conclusion:
     ☎ Among contemporary Judaism’s most immediate and most difficult issues.
     ☎ One nearly everyone of you will have to face (at least, whether or not to interdate/marry).
     ☎ As we move toward the end of this Confirmation year, think about this:
          - A Jewish wedding is another ceremony of Confirmation.
          - It’s not merely the linking of two lives (a JOP can do that).
          - A Jewish wedding links a couple’s destiny with the Jewish people.
     ☎ If Confirmation is a time when each of you begins to articulate what’s truly meaningful and
     important to you about being Jewish ...
          - Your wedding day (i.e., who you marry ... Jew/non-Jew, observant/unobservant) will
          determine how much you act on that “confirmation.”
     ☎ Finally ... if/when you find yourself in such a relationship ...
          - Make sure it’s someone with whom you can discuss these issues ... openly, frankly, honestly
          ... and with whom you can explore options for the two of you and your future family.
          - And find caring clergy with whom you can sit and talk about it ... and who will give you a
          variety of courses of action.
          - Please remember, there will always be someone here at Woodlands for you to talk to.
1:30 End.
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


ISRAEL 2 – ENVISIONING THE CHALLENGES OF REFORM JEWISH ADULTHOOD

Objectives:
☎ To consider what kind of Jewish life they will choose in the years ahead, as childhood moves to
adulthood.
☎ To have an opportunity to hear, and speak with, adults who are currently experiencing a strong,
positive Jewish adulthood.

Materials needed:
☎ 2 months prior, arrange for three guests.
☎ 3 weeks prior, send reminder to three guests.

Implementation:
0:00 Explain:
     ☎ It’s time to talk about what’s going to happen when you leave this class.

     Discuss:
     ☎ Describe what you think your Jewish life is going to be after the conclusion of Confirmation.

     EXERCISE: “The Spectrum of Jewish Living.”
     ☎ Place (on wall) a continuum poster: at one end, BUILDER; at the other, PLACEHOLDER.
     ☎ Instruct students to place themselves on the continuum by writing their name somewhere
     between BUILDER (someone who really incorporates a significant amount of Judaism in their lives)
     and PLACEHOLDER (someone whose minimal observance simply holds a place for Judaism in
     their family until a new generation comes along).
     ☎ Discuss choices.

     Points:
     ☎ The beauty of Reform Judaism is that each of us has the opportunity to build Jewish lives that fit
     our own outlooks and styles.
     ☎ The great risk of Reform Judaism is that we’ll choose to do so little, the Jewish aspects of our
     lives will be not much more than a “placeholder” in Jewish history, performing the most minimal of
     maintenance to keep Judaism alive in our family until the next generation has a chance to give it a
     try.
     ☎ As you make your choices, you may want to keep this question in mind, asking: Do I wish to
     be a Jewish builder, or a Jewish placeholder, or somewhere in between.

0:45 Introduce guests.
     ☎ Members of our synagogue.
     ☎ Value the Jewish piece of their lives.
     ☎ Asked to come and share that piece tonight.
    Each speaker should address students for about 3 minutes:
    ☎ Why I choose to be a Reform Jew.
    ☎ What I think is reasonable and meaningful about it.
    ☎ What are some of my specific practices.

    Dialogue with students:
    ☎ Were you ever where we’re at?
    ☎ Why is religious education important for your kids?
    ☎ Through Confirmation? Graduation?
    ☎ How do/will you respond to your child being bored, etc.?
    ☎ Students share some of their ambivalences about Reform Judaism ... speakers respond.
    Closing:
    ☎ Each speaker offer a piece of advice as to how to live a meaningful Jewish life.
    ☎ Last word: Being a member of the community of Israel not the easiest path a person can take.
    But we’ve been doing it for 4000 years ... because we feel it contributes to the betterment of our
    world, and it makes our lives infinitely richer and more worthwhile.

1:30 End.
Memo to: 3 Guest Speakers ...
From:         Rabbi Billy Dreskin
RE:

First of all, thank you again for agreeing to be part of our Confirmation Class on Wednesday,
___________. Please plan on arriving at 7:05, and being with us in our program from 7:15 until 8:00 pm.

Our class that evening will spend the first 45 minutes having the students imagine what kinds of Jewish
lives they will live as adults. Specifically, we will ask them to place themselves on a “Spectrum of
Jewish Living” between BUILDER (someone who really incorporates a significant amount of Judaism in
their lives) and PLACEHOLDER (someone whose minimal observance simply holds a place for Judaism
in their family until a new generation comes along).

When the discussion concludes, I (or the faculty person who is teaching that evening) will introduce the
three of you. You should then each speak for 3 minutes, with the following questions as suggested
guidelines:

     ☎ Why do you choose to be a Reform Jew?
     ☎ What do you think is reasonable and meaningful about being a Reform Jew?
     ☎ What are some of your specific practices?

You may certainly modify your presentation to make it your own.

I anticipate that, following your presentations, the students will then engage in a dialogue with you, asking
whatever questions are on their minds about Reform Judaism as adults.

At the conclusion of the discussion, I’ll then ask you to provide a closing thought, perhaps based on what
you will have heard from the students that evening.

Thank you so very, very much for volunteering to help our tenth graders better understand what Judaism
means to them. I truly appreciate your assistance.

In friendship and shalom,
Confirmation Curriculum: “God, Torah and Israel: What’s In It For Me?”
Rabbi William Dreskin
Cantor Ellen Dreskin
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro


ISRAEL 3 — PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER (FINAL CLASS)

Objectives:
☎ To discuss with classmates components that are important for Jewish lives of integrity.
☎ To enter into the Jewish decision-making process for ourselves.
☎ To assess what is meaningful and valuable about being Jewish at this moment in their lives.
☎ To receive an invitation to continue the process of Confirmation throughout their lives.

Materials needed:
☎ “Jewish Survival Game” sheets (one per person).
☎ “Jewish Survival Game” cards (one set per group).
☎ Pencils.
☎ Pens.
☎ Pads of paper.
☎ Writing Sheet: “Why I Value Being a Member of the Community of Israel.”
☎ Cassette tape player.
☎ Writing music tape.

Implementation:
0:00 Jewish Survival Game.

     Divide into groups of 4-6 people, and provide each group with a set of “Jewish Survival Game”
     cards.

     Explain:
     ☎ This is our last learning session together.
     ☎ Tonight’s activities will attempt to pull pieces together for us.
     ☎ This first activity, the “Jewish Survival Game,” gives you an opportunity to interact with
     classmates about what is important in Jewish living.

     Directions:
     ☎ Place your set of 15 cards, face up, on the floor in front of you.
     ☎ As a team, order these cards according to your level of Jewish pride, and your desire to have
     them as components of your Jewish life.

     When groups are finished, discuss:
     ☎ What is some of the reasoning that went into your group’s decisions?
     ☎ Compare and contrast the different groups’ responses.

     Next set of directions:
     ☎ Remove (and place in an adjacent area) 5 cards, without which you still feel that your Judaism
     can continue with integrity.
     ☎ Note: These need not necessarily be your bottom-most cards.

     Discuss:
     ☎ Was there a difference between the first step of the game (in which you ranked these items) and
     the second step (in which you threw 5 out)?
     ☎ Was there difficulty finding agreement among group members?
     ☎ Any reluctance throwing them out?

     Final set of directions:
     ☎ As Reform Jews, community discussion is important in helping us make our choices — but
     ultimately, we have to make choices for ourselves.
     ☎ Distribute “Jewish Survival Game” sheets.
     ☎ Name on top of page.
     ☎ Complete your own ranking of the 15 items.
     ☎ The basic instruction is still: Order these cards according to your level of Jewish pride, and
     your desire to have them as components of your Jewish life.
     ☎ To the right of of your 3 highest-ranked items and your 3 lowest-ranked items, add an
     explanation of why you ranked them where you did.

0:30 Distribute pens, pads of paper, and the writing sheet (“Why I value being a member of the
     community of Israel”).

     Explain:
     ☎ Over the course of the last 5 sessions, we’ve explored concepts of Jewishness, chosenness,
     holiness, Jewish responsibilities of social justice (for both Jews and non-Jews), why one might draw
     a line for reaching out to non-Jews at marriage, how adulthood might affect our sense of what’s
     Jewishly important, and (tonight) what are the most and least important components of Jewish
     living.
     ☎ It is now time, in the spirit of our Confirmation year of exploration and evaluation, to try and
     synthesize what all this means to you.
     ☎ I’ve provided a list of the topics we’ve explored during our Israel unit.
     ☎ Use this list as a resource to write about: “Why I value being a member of the community of
     Israel.”

     Writing time (and music, if available).

1:00 Final activity:
     ☎ Sit in circle.
     ☎ Explain:
           • This is last learning session.
           • The rest of our time together, the “business” of our service, etc.
           • Let’s take a few moments to tie it all together.
           • Purpose of this Confirmation year: to explore the meaning and value of your being Jewish,
           and to acquire the needed information to be able to articulately describe that meaning.
    ☎ Please share with the class:
       • A memory from, and/or thought about, this year’s experiences.
       • What you value about the time spent with us.

    Conclusion:
    ☎ The process doesn’t end here.
    ☎ If Judaism is to grow more meaningful and valuable, you must continue probing and evaluating
    it.
    ☎ Confirmation works for only one specific moment in time.
    ☎ The real challenge will be to make moments of Confirmation throughout all the times and places
    and experiences of your lives.

1:30 End.
                                JEWISH SURVIVAL GAME

                                    Your Commentary Here:

Jewish Friends


Hebrew


Jewish Ethics & Values


Rabbi


Tzedakah


Family Involvement in Jewish Activities


Holidays


Synagogue


Shabbat


Prayer


Bar/Bat Mitzvah


Jewish Education


State of Israel


Torah


God
                                                        ________________________________________
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            “WHY I VALUE BEING A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY OF ISRAEL”


I value being a member of the community of Israel because ...

				
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