Why Does the Confirmation Trip Matter?

By Hazan Tahl Ben-Yehuda, Director of Congregational Learning

Over the years I have been asked, what is the point of the confirmation trip to NYC? When I applied for my first position as the director of a very small religious school, I was asked how I would know our school had been successful. I replied that we would know we had been successful if the kids in our school had Jewish grandchildren.

We often measure success by student attendance and family engagement, but we will know we truly succeeded at helping to shape our students’ Jewish identity in a positive and meaningful way if, throughout their lives, they make their important decisions with a Jewish lens – raising a Jewish family, supporting causes that are aligned with Jewish values, living a life that is Jewishly meaningful. Not only knowing about Judaism, but living their Judaism.

The confirmation NYC trip is full of Jewish content, including visiting the Lower East Side and the Tenement Museum, eating at kosher restaurants, seeing art with Jewish themes, visiting the Jewish Museum, celebrating Hanukkah in public places. Waking up is “Boker Tov” and going to bed is “Lila Tov” – and all this is done with their Hazzan and their Jewish friends. The students make positive memories within the structure of a synagogue trip. They see a Broadway show, go bowling in Times Square, and view NYC at night from the top of Rockefeller Center, all of which could be done by anyone, but when done by a group of Jewish kids together with their clergy, it becomes a Jewish experience.

We make this trip to NYC so that our kids can be closer to each other, and closer to their clergy. We make this trip so that our kids can get a taste of what NYC is like through a Jewish lens. We go to NYC together to add one more powerfully positive Jewish memory to our kids’ childhood before they head to college and start making all their own decisions. We make this trip as insurance that their Judaism won’t be confined to what they know, but will include what they do and how they act in the world.

Learn more here about our Confirmation Program for Teens.

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