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While browsing some local Temples (Reform Congregations) here in my city, I noticed a site that listed "Confirmation" under the heading of "Life Cycle" on their site. I was puzzled. I know what Bar Mitzvah is, and I know some places do Bat Mitzvah, but Confirmation? Having a long history in Catholicism, I am used to the idea of the "Sacrament of Confirmation".

Is this "Jewish Confirmation" an actual rite belonging to the Jewish tradition or is it something modern just intending to offer something extra for teens?

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Confirmation is not an actual rite belonging to the Jewish tradition, as you suspected. It is not observed in traditional Orthodox synagogues.

It is a Christian rite that was adopted by early Jewish Reformers

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation.


This article about Reform Judaism writes:

The first Reformers [] were seeking a middle course between halakhic Judaism, which they wanted to break away from, and conversion to Christianity, which they wanted to avoid.

I believe that adopting confirmation into the rites was similar to their adoption of other Christian behaviors such as prayer in the vernacular, introducing an organ into the service and moving the bimah to the front of the synagogue analogous to the Christian altar.

  • You know, "adapt" and "adopt" are different words. – Double AA May 1 '14 at 5:53
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    Prayer in the vernacular is a traditional Jewish concept too, even if it wasn't common 200 years ago. – Double AA May 1 '14 at 5:53
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    -1 Your source does not at all support your claim that Christianity had anything to do with it, let alone an attempt to emulate Christian rites. In fact, it says "at the time, Reform Jews believed that it was inappropriate for Bar/bat mitzvah age children to be considered mature enough to understand what it means to be religious. It was held that children of this age were not responsible enough to understand what it means to observe religious practices. As such, the reform rite of confirmation was originally a replacement for the Bar/Bat mitzvah ceremomy, held at age 16." – Double AA May 1 '14 at 5:57
  • @DoubleAA I meant that the Reformers adapted the Christian ceremony to fit their needs - similar to adopting other Christian behaviors. – Yoni May 1 '14 at 6:06
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    @DoubleAA You are correct that praying in the vernacular is found in the Jewish tradition. But, the Reformers were not looking to reinstate old Jewish traditions; they were looking to reform them to what they considered modern and therefore borrowed from the Christian Church much of their behavior. As a matter of fact, in 1845 The Berlin Reform Congregation switched the Jewish Sabbath to Sunday! americanjewisharchives.org/publications/journal/PDF/… (p 76) – Yoni May 1 '14 at 6:08
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Yes, there is a Jewish Confirmation.

The ceremony of Confirmation was introduced by Reform Judaism in the early part of 19th century in Europe and was brought the United States about mid-century.

In this ceremony, the now-maturing student "confirms" a commitment to Judaism and to Jewish life. While boys and girls are considered to be spiritual adults by age 13 (the age of Bar\Bat Mitzvah), they are better prepared at age 16 or 17 to make the kind of emotional and intellectual commitment to Judaism that Confirmation implies.

Source: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot/In_the_Community/Confirmation.shtml

H\T @Danno

  • it comes from Christianity, not from Judaism – Dude Mar 11 '16 at 18:16

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