Why don't synagogues of movements other than Reform conduct a Confirmation ritual during the Holiday of Shavuot? Although it is an innovation, it doesn't per se seem so halakhically problematic, especially because it is about confirming one's belief in the Jewish faith. Sounds like a bit like Kabbalat ha-Torah, if you ask me...

(This section was written by Monica Cellio.)

Description of Reform Confirmation (can't speak for Conservative): While there is some variation, the confirmation ceremony typically includes the following elements (based on personal observation and discussions on Reform mailing lists):

  • Confirmation is in a group, not individual like bar mitzvah. The confirmands are usually finishing 10th grade, though a minority hold by high-school graduation instead. So roughly age 16. Confirmands are required to have continued their religious education after bar/bat mitzvah.

  • Confirmation is usually done as part of an evening service, either erev Shavuot or the erev Shabbat preceeding.

  • Confirmands usually lead part (sometimes all) of the service.

  • The rabbi or other community leader usually addresses the confirmands as a group. There may or may not be brief individual blessings/misheberachs.

  • If confirmands speak, it is about their Jewish values and aspirations.

Confirmation does not involve or acknowledge a status change. It is more about public declaration of one's continuing commitment to Judaism (not specifically Reform Judaism, though obviously they're Reform Jews).

Wikipedia article on Confirmation: (mainly discusses the Christian Confirmation, yet there is still some substance related to the Jewish Confirmation)

Below, I have posted a series of essays disputing this contentious issue that has been facing those of us who are part of the Reform community:

Historically, the Reform Movement has viewed Confirmation as a significant educational milestone on the path of lifelong Jewish learning. In some communities, B'nei Mitzvah has taken on a greater role in the life cycle of a Reform Jew, superceding Confirmation. Should Confirmation continue as the vital rite of passage that it has historically held or should Confirmation be discarded as a relic in favor of B'nei Mitzvah?

  1. http://urj.org/learning/torah/ten/eilu/archives/v4w1/
  2. http://urj.org/learning/torah/ten/eilu/archives/v4w2/
  3. http://urj.org/learning/torah/ten/eilu/archives/v4w3/
  4. http://urj.org/learning/torah/ten/eilu/archives/v4w4/
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    Your question would be much more valuable if you'd include a motivation: why should synagogues conduct this ritual? Also if you'd include an explanation (or at least a link to an explanation) of what the ritual is.
    – msh210
    Jun 13, 2012 at 22:26
  • 4
    I mean, I've taught in two Conservative synagogues' Hebrew schools. My wife has taught in a third. Do you need textual evidence that it's officially part of the USCJ's program? Or are you satisfied to know that it is done?
    – Seth J
    Jun 13, 2012 at 22:42
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    I'm not sure why a question asking for a reason why Orthodoxy doesn't do something ritualistically that other streams do (kinda the reverse of Orthodoxy's pet peeve with other streams) has been downvoted so many times. If you all think it's off topic or not a real question, close it. I see no votes to close. Just downvotes and sarcastic comments. Not what I expect here.
    – Seth J
    Jun 14, 2012 at 1:42
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    @SethJ, One could consider a question to be of low value without considering it close-worthy. That's why the downvote and the vote to close exist as two separate mechanisms.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jun 14, 2012 at 2:54
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    @Shemmy, "Vram" is the previous name of the poster with the weird characters that are hard to type. To complicate things, there is a newer user named "vram". Many of us wish "Vram" would switch back to some name we can reasonably type; in the meantime this is a way to address comments. Jun 18, 2012 at 12:46

5 Answers 5


A large percentage of the families who are affiliated with groups with liberal Judaic practices, such as the Conservative and Reform movement, tend to become less affiliated after their children become bar/bat mitzvah age. From my understanding, confirmation, although not a Jewish concept, seemed to be a great way of keeping the children and families affiliated for a few more years.

The vast majority of orthodox families send their children to Jewish academies through high school and retain lifelong affiliations with synagogues. An educational "gimmick" of confirmation would be unnecessary.

  • 2
    If it helps keeps Jews involved with Yahadut, then there is probably something Jewish about it. Jun 14, 2012 at 5:04

As the reform movement "loosely" based this ceremony on a practice of Christianity, it would in fact be explicitly prohibited as chukos hagoyim to engage in it.

  • 3
    My understanding (I wasn't there :-) ) is that the original idea was to model on what that other religion does. However, "model on" is not the same as "replicate"; so far as I know nobody ever asserted that (Reform) confirmation was anything but re-affirming commitment, while in the church it's a lifecycle event. Their confirmation is like our bar mitzvah -- confirmation of adult status and responsibilities. Today's Reform confirmation doesn't look much like today's church confirmation. Jun 14, 2012 at 14:13
  • Re the argument that they do it so it's forbidden to us: they preach every week so we shouldn't (and didn't, historically), yet we do; they have food and drink after morning services so we shouldn't have kiddush, but we do. Jun 14, 2012 at 14:14
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    @MonicaCellio with respect, that argument is spurious, as we did those things long before the advent of the reform movement (or do you mean the reform movement's ideological origin? even so, we don't base ourselves on that practice - it's coincidence). Even so, there is precedent for what you describe. That's why we don't say Aseres HaDibros in the course of regular davening anymore. Finally, I would argue that a practice modeled on that of another religion is still explicitly prohibited. It seems obvious that it would be so, in fact.
    – yoel
    Jun 14, 2012 at 14:50
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    @yoel, I wasn't suggesting that preaching and kiddush came via Reform; I'm just saying that these are innovations that we haven't rejected. I don't know how much the early Reform movement actually copied anything from church confirmation other than the name, but I'm not assuming it was at all deep. Jun 14, 2012 at 15:16

Without knowing what this ceremony is I would say that orthodox Judaism is averse to instituting any type of ceremony unless there is a valid, orthodox source that can be seen as a precedent (usually the older the better). If for no other reason than to adopt one ceremony would open the floodgates and dilute any meaning (this is a pet peeve I have with brachos parties).

  • 2
    but wouldn't such a ceremony increase meaning? It sounds like a pretty meaningful ceremony to me! Jun 14, 2012 at 0:55
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    since i still have no sense of what this ceremony entails, i can't be sure, but couldn't it be said that simple observance of the mitzvot, going to shul, being part of a kahal are all consistent and constant confirmations of belief, so no separate ceremony to commemorate what should be the baseline of existence is necessary.
    – rosends
    Jun 14, 2012 at 1:04
  • @هه it might for some and not others, the problem is opening the floodgates to any/all ceremonies (how would we chose what can be included and what cannot?) would dilute meaning overall. Jun 14, 2012 at 1:07
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    @AdamMosheh There is a world of a difference between something non-obligatory and something that isn't a thing.
    – Double AA
    Jun 14, 2012 at 3:20
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    If the sole issue is innovation, there are many minhagim that we practice that were "innovated" because they were good ideas, though there is no precedent for them.
    – YDK
    Jun 14, 2012 at 3:54

Well, I grew up with a Reform Temple, and we in our grade had a confirmation. It was widely regarded as a way to keep us from leaving completely after Bar and Bat Mitzvah and was also widely acknowledged to be the last time we were going to come to Temple. It was nice but kind of desperate.

  • I imagine if they could have done a "post-doc" Super-Confirmation, they would have done that too.
    – MichoelR
    Apr 21 at 10:47

Because no one else is trying to imitate German Protestantism from the 1800?

  • Witty, but probably just comment-worthy rather than an answer...
    – AKA
    Apr 21 at 12:23

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