Community Schools / Kids South Orange

TSTI of South Orange Celebrates Student Service and Reflection

The following is from Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI), the Reform synagogue in South Orange, celebrated this year’s confirmation class on Friday, June 2 with a student-led service that featured students’ reflections on the year’s study as well as their place among the Jewish people.

The curriculum covered theology and the students’ personal concept of God, a study of the 10 Commandments from a modern perspective, and questions of Reform Jewish identity. The class enjoyed field trips to New York City to learn about the Jewish immigrant experience and the area’s Jewish roots, with visits to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Eldridge Street Synagogue, and to see the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof.” In tandem with TSTI’s involvement in the refugee resettlement initiative among South Orange’s three synagogues, the class also talked about their families’ immigrant roots and how it frames responses to immigrant issues today.

During the evening service and confirmation ceremony, students shared creative writings on how they understood and connected to prayer; they also read from the Torah and gave a class confirmation statement about their experience in TSTI’s Hebrew High. The confirmands acknowledged the power of the lessons they learned about Judaism and the deeper meanings of Jewish holidays, affirmed their place within the Jewish community and expressed a commitment to social justice. They also shared appreciation for the open forum they had to express opinions and their differing views on current events.

All of TSTI’s clergy members celebrated the milestone with the students, their families and the congregation. The 2017 confirmation class members and clergy featured above are (front row left to right) Cantor Rebecca Moses, Miranda Lipetz of Maplewood, Shayna Cohen, Daniel Oxman, Jon Eigen and Ari Brown, all of South Orange and Rabbi Alexandra Klein; (2nd row, left to right) Cantor Joan Finn with Jack Abramson (South Orange), Izzy Singer and Lyle Berkely (Maplewood), Lewis Busch-Vogel (South Orange), Jenna Essner (Maplewood) and Wesley Gelman (Short Hills); (top row, left to right) David Goetz, Ben Harris and Oliver Stoller of Maplewood and Rabbi Daniel Cohen.

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, located at 432 Scotland Road in South Orange, offers an innovative preschool program, religious school for grades K through 7, and Hebrew High for grades 8-12. Students come from South Orange, Maplewood, West Orange, Livingston, Millburn/Short Hills and surrounding areas. For more information about TSTI’s Hebrew High program, go to; for information about the Reform synagogue, its services and programs, visit

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