By Sharon Bleviss, President
On August 6th 2011 (6 Adar), B’nai Emunah’s latest Confirmation class, taught by Sharon Bleviss, was confirmed. The class had been together for two to four years and had, among their activities together, taken field trips, had sleepovers, baked challah and produced a documentary. The class was student driven, and so the curriculum changed yearly. For the last two years, the students chose to complete long-term projects.
As proud family, friends and community members kvelled, Aaron Lapidus, Renee Torchio MacDonald, Bryan Dahl, Alex Whitlatch, Andrew Whitlatch and Lara Prosterman, led the Shabbat service with a twist. As the Torah was removed from the Ark at the beginning of the Torah service, the scrolls were passed from student to student to signify their involvement in learning and Torah. Later, each student gave a brief drash which traced his or her own personal Jewish journey. All of the students had literally grown up at B’nai Emunah and each reflected on its impact in their lives. The speeches were at once insightful and humorous.
Near the end of the service at Aleinu, the students opened the Ark and then symbolically ‘sacrificed’ their boutonnieres and corsages of white roses into the Ark. Just before the Mourner’s Kaddish, a moment chosen for its gravity, they shared their final project with the congregation. This year the teens had been working on researching the history of the Czech Scroll which is encased on the bimah. This Scroll is on loan from the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust and was saved from the Holocaust. The students learned that it had come from a shul in Uhersky Brod and were able to obtain the names of those deported from that town. Further research determined that few returned after the war. One student contacted the current very small Jewish community in nearby Brno to share with them that we are safekeeping their Torah. He received an appreciative response. The list of the deportees was also placed in the ark out of respect.
The students, as their gift to B’nai Emunah, will collect all of their research into a book which congregants can peruse at their leisure. In addition, the story of the Scroll will be read on a January Shabbat each year to keep those who perished forever in our hearts.