Adventure Rabbi: Synagogue without Walls
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About the Adventure Rabbi Program:

"Awe rather than faith is the cardinal attitude of the religious Jew."
- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Adventure Rabbi Program:

Boulder, Colorado
Lake Tahoe, California

A New Kind of Synagogue:
The Adventure Rabbi Program is a cutting edge model of synagogue life appropriate for 21st century Judaism. Gone are the days when Jews felt obligated to belong to a synagogue.
Today, 70% of American Jews do not belong to a congregation.

In fact, many Jews today don't feel obliged by Judaism at all. Judaism has become a choice and if the religion does not enhance and enrich our lives, if Judaism is not relevant, meaningful and accessible, many of us opt out completely.

The Adventure Rabbi Program puts meaning back into Judaism. We met people where they are (often literally hiking or skiing) and show them how Judaism can enhance their lives, without having to give up their weekends or making big pledges. Through our activities and community, adults and kids come to love Judaism.

We teach age old Jewish concepts like taking some time off each week and stop trying to be perfect, but we teach them in a modern context. We climb mountains, go skiing, play the guitar and sing around a campfire. We have thoughtful discussions and debates based on a scientific and rational view of the world. (We have lots of physicists and rocket scientists in our congregation.)

We don't simply teach Bar and Bat Mitzvah students Hebrew; we teach them the relationship skills, based on Jewish teachings, that they need to become responsible and happy teenagers. We present Judaism in a way that fits into modern American life.

Our Programs Are in Sync With What Jews In America Are Looking For:

We do not require yearly membership dues (although we offer them for those who prefer a traditional model). Rather, we offer pay as you go fee for services. Gone are the days when Jews would willingly pay 3% of their income for synagogue dues even when they only attended High Holiday services. Today's Jews ask, "What am I getting for my money?" and only wish to pay for what they use.

At the Adventure Rabbi Program, you become part of our community just by showing up.

We do not offer weekly Shabbat Services.
Our constituency doesn't want to go to weekly services. (Do you? Lots of synagogues offer them so we can recommend one to you.)

Adventure Rabbi people are busy with full lives and on weekends we ski, hike, party, hang out, go dancing and relax. When the weekend arrives, we don't want to get dressed up to come to synagogue to count pages and have the rabbi preach at us and tell us how we should be more Jewish.

Also, we have found that when an event is offered weekly, potential participants tend to say, "Oh I'll just go next week," and never actually go. Monthly events increase and concentrate attendance.

Rather we offer one Friday night and one Saturday a month. On Fridays we enjoy brief joyful services. (We have no interest in long, boring, sad services.) On Saturdays we offer hikes or services on skis. Our Shabbat hikes and ski days are great examples of how we meet out participants where they are. "OK so you are going skiing on Shabbat? Let me come with you and I will show you how to make it Jewish."

Participant Involvement & Power to Create:
Many of of our most popular programs were created at the suggestion of our participants. For example, Passover in Moab was dreamed up by Kara and Steve Mertz.

Unlike large synagogues, with institutional traditions, chains of commands and committee charts, we are a nimble and flexible program. We have few committees and fewer meetings. New program ideas, or at least ones that can support themselves financially, can easily and quickly be brought to fruition.

We do not believe that prayer changes the will of a divine being. Therefore, we feel liberated to expand and contract our liturgical choices to create a service that is meaningful. We do believe that communal prayers offers an opportunity to connect with others in our community, our families and the Jewish people all over the world as well as to look within ourselves.

Origins of the Program:
If you really want the inside scoop on how this program was started, read the forward of Rabbi Korngold's book God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi. (Doubleday, 2008)

But the official pitch goes like this. Adventure Rabbi Program was envisioned by Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold, who has experienced her most vibrant Jewish experiences in the outdoors. From scaling mountains to running ultra-marathons, she has found that the spirituality of the wilderness awakens Judaism.

Surrounded by the raw wonder of creation, Rabbi Korngold helps people experience an inner peace and an abiding connection to That Which is Greater Than Ourselves. In the wilderness, she believes, it is possible to distance ourselves from politics and protocol and allow the awareness of the connectedness of all things to permeate our souls.

Come join us; let the wilderness awaken your Judaism.

The Adventure Rabbi Headquarters is located in Boulder Colorado and is managed by Rabbi Jamie Korngold. We have a large office building in which we teach classes, lead smaller services, and hold meetings and conferences. For larger services we rent space.

In 2011, we opened our first AR branch in South Lake Tahoe, California in partnership with Temple Bat Yam and managed by Rabbi Evon Yakar. Our South Lake Tahoe location provides easy access to extraordinary winter and summer outdoor sports.

Executive Director:
Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold serves as the spiritual leader of the Adventure Rabbi Program. Rabbi Korngold received her ordination from Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, the academic, spiritual and professional development center for Reform Judaism.
More on Rabbi Korngold>>

The Adventure Rabbi Program is philosophically and theologically aligned with Progressive Judaism in general and the Reform Movement more specifically are dedicated to creating opportunities to enhance our participants relationship with self, community and God. We provide a Jewish backdrop and context for their lives and through positive, communal Jewish experiences improve our participants sense of Jewish identity

Our rabbis are ordained by the Reform Movement’s seminaries, and are expected to teach and preach in ways that are consistent with the mores of Progressive Judaism.

As liberal Jews, we look to our tradition to provide wisdom, insight and guidance. We then couple our ancient teachings with modern interpretations, in order to find appropriate forms of contemporary religious expression.

We are committed to equality of women in all forms of practice and worship, inclusion of people of all sexual orientations, and outreach to interfaith families and couples.

Life-Cycle Events
The Adventure Rabbi Program offers life-cycle events for all stages of Jewish life. Since we do not have a chapel, these events are held in private homes, rented facilities, or wilderness venues.

Brit Milah and Brit Bat are the beginning of life ceremonies in which the Jewish infant is entered into the covenant with God. The parents commit themselves to raise their child with 1) the study of Torah, 2) the practice of mitzvot (Jewish ritual/ethics) and 3) to prepare their child to have a Jewish home of his or her own someday.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah: Rabbis from The Adventure Rabbi Program officiate at Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies for candidates who have completed the requirements of our B’nai Mitzvah program. We`have also created a Bar and Bat Yisrael program for students who wish to focus less on Hebrew and more on "mensch" training.

Weddings: Rabbis from The Adventure Rabbi Program officiate at weddings in all sorts of venues including synagogues, back-yards, hotels, homes, parks, and mountain tops.

Funerals: Rabbis from The Adventure Rabbi Program officiate at funerals

The Adventure Rabbi Program specializes in experiential teaching of eco Judaism as well as Jewish ritual, practice and theology. Our outdoor programs are infused with teaching moments. From the Rabbi’s sermons on the Torah portion of the week, to discussions of contemporary theologians such as Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel, every event is filled with learning opportunities.

Rabbi Korngold is an expert in the field of Rabbinic texts dealing with Jewish attitudes about nature, and teaches from Talmud, Midrash and other sacred texts. Rabbi Korngold also has a strong background in Jewish ethics and frequently teaches on the subject of Jewish ethics for every day living.

Children and Teen’s Programs

Our retreats often include special family programs and family camping areas.

We offer a unique summer wilderness experience for teens in Colorado and extensive teen programs in Lake Tahoe, California.

We also run educational retreats for youth, often sponsored by other synagogues or youth groups.

Pastoral Counseling and Chaplaincy
The rabbis of the Adventure Rabbi Program are trained to provide pastoral counseling.

Pastoral counseling is provided at the request of individuals who need spiritual assistance with life cycle events such as when contemplating conversion, preparing for marriage, coping with divorce, dealing with death etc. Pastoral counseling is also provided for individuals who want to clarify or better understand specific aspects of their Jewish religious faith.

Rabbis make visits to hospitals, retirement communities and residences to counsel the ill and the dying and to comfort the bereaved.


Rabbi Jamie Korngold: Founder, Senior Rabbi and Lead Guide.

Rabbi Korngold is an ordained Reform rabbi and the founder and Senior Rabbi of the Adventure Rabbi Program, with bases in Boulder, Colorado and Lake Tahoe, Colorado.

A favorite of the media, she has been featured by Good Morning America, USA Today, CBS, CNN, NPR, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Ski as well as many other outlets.

She is nationally recognized for her innovative work combining religion and nature, as well as for her much loved Sadie and Ori series, published by Kar-Ben Publishing.

Rabbi Jamie Korngold is the author of 11 books including God in the Wilderness (Doubleday, 2008), now in its fourth printing and The God Upgrade: Finding Your 21st-Century Spirituality in Judaism’s 5,000-Year-Old Tradition (Jewish Lights, 2011), which was named one of the ten best religions books of the year by Publisher's Weekly.

She has also written eight children's books for Kar-Ben Publishing including , Sadie's Sukkah Breakfast (Kar-Ben, 2011) a Sydney Taylor Notable book, Sadie and the Big Mountain (Kar-Ben 2012) Sadie and the Almost Marvelous Menorah (Kar-Ben 2013), Sadie's Lag B'Omer Mystery (Kar-Ben 2014) Sadie Ori and Nuggles go to Camp (Kar-Ben 2014) Sadie and Ori and the Blue Blanket (Kar-Ben 2015) a Sydney Taylor Notable book, Seder in the Desert (Kar-Ben 2014) Mazel Tov It's a Boy/ Mazel Tov It's a Girl, a flip-book (Kar-Ben 2015).

Rabbi Korngold is an athlete and a scholar. She completed the Leadville Trail
100, a hundred-mile running race, in less than thirty hours and was ranked fourth in the nation for telemark mogul skiing. She is a graduate of Cornell University’s natural resources program and received her masters and ordination from Hebrew Union College.

Her eclectic path includes such adventures as working as a street musician in Japan, a taxi driver in Alaska and a cook on board a boat in Alaska helping with the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup.

Rabbi Korngold is best known for her ability to make Judaism relevant, meaningful, and accessible and therefore opening the doors back to Judaism for thousands of disenfranchised Jews. Through her nature-based approach to religion, she is able to bridge the gap between scientific thought and religion, healing a fissure that often disrupts spiritual paths.

She lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and two daughters.

Rabbi Evon Yakar: Head of Distance Learning and Rabbi Guide for Bar and Bat Mitzvah/ Bar and Bar Yisrael Program

Rabbi Yakar runs our branch location in partnership with Temple Bat Yam, in Lake Tahoe, CA.

If you have read Rabbi Korngold's first book, God in the Wilderness, you "met" Rabbi Evon in print. He was on a Adventure Rabbi guide training course and one of his witty comments made it into the manuscript.

Rabbi Evon J. Yakar grew up throughout the northern Midwest attending high school in the suburbs of Detroit and he lived in Minneapolis and Chicago before high school. Many of his summers were spent at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, a Union for Reform Judaism summer camp. OSRUI is a special place for many reasons, but high on the list is that it is the place where he met his wife Rachel. Evon earned a BS from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2001 where he studied Hebrew and Biological Aspects of Conservation.

He was ordained as a Rabbi in June 2007 from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he also earned his Master of Hebrew Letters degree. Rabbi Evon received awards for the highest academic standing in his class. During his time in Cincinnati, Evon studied in a joint program between HUC-JIR and Xavier University to earn a Masters in Educational Administration.

He is passionate about sharing Judaism with his students and loves the opportunity to personalize the program according to the interests of each of his students.

Rabbi Evon is in charge of the AR Distance Learning program and teaches students via Skype all over the world. His works with Bar Mitzvah students, Bat Mitzvah students, Adult Bar Mitzvah students, Adult Bat Mitzvah students, Conversion students and private advanced studies students.

Rabbi Evon is also available to come to your camp to train your staff in our special work combing nature and Judaism.

Rabbi Evon lives in Lake Tahoe, California with his wife Rachel and son Caleb.

Rabbi Lewis "Buz" Bogage: Weddings

We are proud to have Rabbi Bogage as part of our rabbinic team. Rabbi Bogage brings years of experience to the Adventure Rabbi Program. His rabbinate has taken him all over the world where he has continually explored different ways of reaching Jews.Rabbi Buz Bogage

Rabbi Bogage was born and raised in New England and was graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He studied at Columbia University while serving as Rabbi the Central Synagogue of New York City. He continued graduate studies at the university of Denver while serving as Rabbi of Temple Micah.

Rabbi Bogage has received his graduate degrees from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was ordained a Rabbi and received his Doctorate from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rabbi Bogage has visited communities all over the world including Africa, Iran, India and Europe. He served the Jewish Community in India and also helped to organize Jewish communities in the Far East.

Rabbi Bogage served as Rabbi and Professor of Modern Jewish Philosophy and Religious Thought at University of South Florida and DePauw University in central Indiana.

He is retired and lives in Denver where he loves being in the outdoors, hiking, biking canoeing and fishing.


Guides and Administrative Staff:

Jeff Finkelstein Jeff Finkelstein brings to the trail years of experience working in the Jewish camping world. He is proud to be product of the Reform Movement's youth group system. Jeff adds to his Jewish knowledge his skills as a back country guide, ski patroller and mountaineer.

Jeff has been with the Adventure Rabbi Program since our inception in Nov 2001 and launched our first website in Feb 2002. Jeff's talent and skills in web development allow Adventure Rabbi members to have an unprecedented level of accessibility to our group and an extremely interactive relationship with our staff. Our easy to use site serves as a model for other religious institutions.

Terri VonLoh is in charge of the financial transactions and bookkeeping for the Adventure Rabbi Program.