USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘reformed jews’
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Jewish Confirmation

Maddy Heyman

Los Angeles, California

April 24, 2012

Folklore Type: Ritual

Informant Bio: Maddy Heyman is one of my apartment mates and good friends. She is a twenty year old Sophomore and double major in Theatre and Narrative Studies at The University of Southern California. She is from St. Paul, Minnesota and has lived there her whole life. Maddy is a very active member of her theatre community back in St. Paul. She also has acted and directed shows at USC. Although she is thriving in college despite tearing her meniscus and finding out she has mild Crohn’s disease, she is very attached to her home, family, friends, and Theatre community in St. Paul. Maddy is Jewish.

Context: Maddy and I were in our dimly lit apartment late in the night around midnight when I asked her to share some theatre folklore knowing she is a Theatre major. After she told me the theatre ritual, she said there was another ritual they do with her form of Judaism that is also really important to her.

Item: A Jewish ritual more specific to my form of Judaism, er Reformed Jew, is confirmation at fifteen or sixteen. It’s not like Bar or Baht Mitzvahs. Then you become a Jewish adult in the community. Reformed Jews get that at thirteen you’re not old enough to decide you’re gonna be a Jew adult. With Confirmation, you take a year and really study what it means to be a Jew. We looked controversial issues like birth control, homosexuals, and stem cell research. At the end we wrote confessional statements. They allowed us to confirm our faith but like on our own terms which was super cool. You can be like I accept it but I believe this or I wanna think about it this way (hand gestures on each side). Also we learned a lot about other religions, and why we would want to be Jews. I really got to decide and realize, yes, I want to be Jewish and hopefully raise my kids Jewish. It culminates a year of learning. At the end it culminates into a service where we read our statements and then they get published in a program.

Informant Analysis: I don’t know when it started. Just know it started cause they knew thirteen was too young, and we needed the chance to experience more before we make the big decision.

Analysis: Maddy identifies with this ritual because as she said it really helped her learn about the important decision she was going to have to make and helped her make it. This ritual is a reaction to a ritual of the past. Instead of changing the ritual the Reformed Jews added a new one. It is an example of Religious ideas changing over time.

  Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

[geolocation]