Bar / Bat Mitzvah Individual Program

Individual Bar and Bat Mitzvah Program: 10 Months

The Adventure Rabbi Individual Study Bar and Bat Mitzvah Program is a Great Alternative for:

  • Students for whom the class schedule does not work
  • Students who thrive having one-on-one adult attention and enjoy having lots of time to ask questions
  • Students who prefer individual activities rather than social situations
  • Destination Ceremonies – You pick the venue, we will meet you there
  • Bar and Bat Mitzvah students who live anywhere
  • Distance learning via Skype and GoToMeeting is available
  • Bar and Bat Mitzvah students with any level (even none or years and years) of Jewish background
  • Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies in Israel
  • Students who would rather be indoors than out on group hikes

How the program works:

You will have individual monthly meetings, either online or in person with one of these instructors: Rabbi Stacy Bergman (Armonk, NY), Rabbi Evon Yakar (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Educator Janiece Gratch (Oklahoma City, OK), Educator Elaine Barenblat Boulder, CO) or Educator David Spiegler (W. Arvada, CO.)

You will also need weekly meetings with a Hebrew tutor. Rabbi Stacy, Janiece, David and Elaine all offer Hebrew lessons, so, except for students working with Rabbi Evon, you can have all your lessons with the same person.

During these lessons you will learn about Jewish Values such as Taking Care of the Earth, Creating Peace at Home, Respecting Mother and Father, Remembering Shabbat and Taking Care of Animals. You will learn how ancient Jewish wisdom can make your teenage years less turbulent, as you develop the skills of compassion, courage and confidence.

You will complete a 10-hour social action project, a Shabbat project, and finally, you will synthesize what you learned into speeches to share with your community at your service.

Meanwhile, with your weekly Hebrew tutor, you will learn Hebrew prayers, and how to chant from the Torah.

Then you will have a ceremony in front of your family and friends on the date and at the venue of your choosing, in the destination of your dreams.

What Families are Saying About this Program

Jake has said several times throughout the past year that his Bar Mitzvah experience was the best time of his life (his life is pretty good on a day to day basis and he knows it). He so appreciated the whole process, working with you, and the surrounding beauty of nature during the service. It was incredibly special and affected everyone involved. Our older son would have liked to do the same had we known about the program 3 years earlier.- Lauri Streeck

Our Staff

Rabbi Stacy Bergman

Students look forward to their weekly session with Rabbi Stacy. More than one  student has said, “I didn’t know a rabbi could be so fun!” Meanwhile, parents appreciate her organizational skills and the careful attention she gives each student and their family.

Rabbi Stacy is an ordained Reform Rabbi. She loves to work with Bar and Bat Mitzvah and Bar and Bat Yisrael students to help them find their own pathway into Judaism. Her favorite moments are when she can help a student “get” how this ancient tradition still applies to them today.

She loves yoga, running, hiking with her 2 dogs and singing Broadway show tunes with her husband and 3 children. She joins us online from Armonk New York. Read more about Rabbi Stacy Bergman>>

Janiece Gratch

Janiece has tutored over seventy students. Kids, and their parents love her. Even years after their ceremonies students speak excitedly about how fun and achievable Janiece made the process.

Janiece Gratch lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and works with students all over the world via Skype. She knows how to connect! Read more about Janiece »

Elaine Barenblat

Elaine Barenblat is our Director of Education. She is a beloved teacher who makes learning fun and meaningful. In the last few years students have become so attached to her, they have asked for her to officiate at their ceremonies. Elaine is the co-author of the curriculum with Rabbi Jamie Korngold. Read more about Elaine »

David Spiegler

Kids love David! David has tutored Hebrew for us for many years and we are thrilled that he now offers lessons in our Individual Bar and Bat Mitzvah curriculum. David works well with all types of learners. His backgrounds as a child psychologist serves him well in his role as a teacher of 12-year olds! His students always get there work done, quickly and completely and enjoy the process. Read more about David »

Rabbi Evon Yakar

Rabbi Evon, Adventure Rabbi, comes to us via Skype from South Lake Tahoe, California. He specializes in youth education and is an expert at making Judaism relevant and meaningful to 12 and 13-year-olds.

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 will only work with students willing to have their ceremony in Lake Tahoe. Read more about Rabbi Evon »

Rabbi Jamie Korngold

Rabbi Jamie Korngold, the Adventure Rabbi, is the founder of the Adventure Rabbi Program and Adventure Judaism.

Rabbi Jamie relishes the work she does with 12 and 13-year-olds. “This is a time in their lives when we can have a lasting impact on the people they become,” she explains.

Rabbi Jamie also excels at making quick connections with your family and friends, and will quickly build a community out of your Mitzvah guests.

When Rabbi Jamie officiates, one of the other Educators will handle the lessons and keep the Rabbi up to date with your student’s progress. At the end of the process, she will come in to plan and officiate at the ceremony.

Rabbi Jamie has led ceremonies in Hawaii, Switzerland, Canada, Israel, New York City, Laguna Beach and everywhere in between!  She has arrived at ceremonies on skis, horseback, a hiking trail and in a snowcat. Where will your adventure take us?

Frequently Asked Questions

Parent Involvement

We recommend that you listen in whenever possible so that you will feel part of the process. But if it does not work well for the for parent or the student, do try to check in now and then. For online learning, we do ask that an adult be present in the house and checking in occasionally. We hope that after the meetings ends, your family will continue to explore the topics that have been raised, thus making this a family experience.

Hebrew

What Hebrew prayers will the Bar or Bat Mitzvah student learn?

We recommend that you listen in whenever possible so that you will feel part of the process. But if it does not work well for the for the parent or the student, do try to check in now and then. For online learning, we do ask that an adult be present in the house and checking in occasionally. We hope that after the meeting ends, your family will continue to explore the topics that have been raised, thus making this a family experience.

Our emphasis is on prayers we think every Jew should know for general Jewish living. Among other prayers such as Barchu, Shema and V’ahavtah, you will learn the full Friday night Kiddush, Kaddish (seldom taught to Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids but probably the most widely needed Jewish prayer). Students should be prepared for a serious year of Hebrew study and able to commit time to this aspect of the program. Most students meet with their tutor once a week for 12-18 months. View videos of the prayers here »

Required Prayers for all Students:

  • Shehechiyanu
  • Tallit Blessing
  • Candle Blessing
  • Full Friday Night Kiddush
  • Hamotzi
  • Barchu
  • Shema
  • V’ahavtah
  • Preface to Amidah
  • Avot
  • G’vurot
  • Kedusha
  • Shema with Echad Eloheinu
  • Blessings before and after Torah Reading
  • Mourner’s Kaddish
  • Ma-Nishtanah

How about Torah?

Most of our students chant or read 6 verses of Torah.  You will be reading from our Backpacking Torah.

What are the Hebrew requirements to get into the program?

Many of our students have no Hebrew background while others have been attending Jewish Day School for years. Either way, because this is an individual program, we can make it work and we will create a program that is appropriately challenging.

How will the Bar or Bat Mitzvah student learn their Hebrew?

Each student works with a private Hebrew tutor. Fees for this are not including in the basic program fee. Most students meet with their tutor once a week for 18 months. Occasionally students require 2 times a week, and others only occasional meetings. We recommend working with our in-house educator either in person or over the internet because she will be able to ensure your student’s progress. More>>

What does Community Service have to do with Bar or Bat Mitzvah?

Becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah means becoming a more responsible member of the Jewish community. One of the values of our Jewish community is that as Jews, we have a mandate to help make the world a better place. Therefore, as you take on your new role in our community you will demonstrate your concern and connection through a community service (tikkun olam) project.

Community Service Project

How many hours of work should I plan on?

You will complete 10 hours of work and then write a speech explaining what you did, why you chose it and what you got out of it.

What kinds of project do we do?

We prefer projects that allow Bar and Bat Mitzvah students to interact with other people, animals or nature and enable students to build relationships. We prefer that you stay always from fundraisers.

Examples of Past Projects:

  • Trail work (Durango, CO)
  • Graffiti Removal (New York City)
  • Building Homes (New Orleans)
  • Organizing a Neighborhood Park Clean-up (Denver, CO)
  • Helping Prepare Meals for Koko the Signing Gorilla (California)

Shabbat Projects

A note from Rabbi Korngold, the Adventure Rabbi:

My not so secret agenda is to introduce the Bar and Bat Mitzvah students and their families to Shabbat as a meaningful part of life. Our lives are so frenetic! One of the greatest gifts Judaism has given us is the mandate to take a day off every week. I hope that when the kids are in college and are overwhelmed with life, they will look back at this year and think, “Oh Shabbat. Maybe that can help.” To that end, my goal is to introduce them to a Shabbat practice that fits into their lifestyle and can enhance their lives.

How does it work?

Twice a month for ten months you will pick some type of Shabbat observance to try out. You can try traditional activities like lighting candles, baking challah or going to synagogue. But you can also explore be non-traditional activities like going skiing with your family but not complaining, eating ice cream for breakfast, or making dinner for your family. You will journal what you did and how it worked for you.

The Ceremony

Where is the ceremony?

You are able to pick the venue that works for your family and friends. For some locations we know work well, see>>

The Rabbi will arrive at your ceremony with the Torah and prayerbooks.

To help you plan for the service we have great resources posted such as:

  • The Bar or Bat Mitzvah student’s large print version of the service. Click Here>>
  • The guests’ booklet format version of the service (same content, different format) Click Here>>
  • A diagram of how to set up the service venue Click Here>>
  • The honors you will be able to give out to guests Click Here>>
  • A list of items you will need to bring to the service Find This All Here>>

Who officiates at the ceremony?

Rabbi Jamie Korngold or Rabbi Stacy Bergman generally officiate at the ceremonies. Rabbi Evon Yakar will officiate at ceremonies in Lake Tahoe.

How will we plan it?

A month or two before the ceremony you will have two meetings with the officiating rabbi to plan and rehearse the ceremony.

Do we get to personalize the ceremony?

Yes! We can include as many of your guests as you would like. You can even write your own prayerbook, although most families opt to use our Adventure Rabbi nature-based prayerbook.

What is the fee for an Individual Bar or Bat Mitzvah?

Fees are based on which rabbi officiates at the ceremony, and the location of the ceremony. For example, a ceremony in Israel is more expensive than one in Lake Tahoe, California. For a list of our fee schedule, please click here >>

How Do I Sign Up For An Individual Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
Does it have to be outside?

As the Adventure Rabbi Program, we love outdoor Bar or Bat Mitzvahs but we realize not every family can do that. You can pick a venue that works well for you and your guests. We have done it all –  a beach in Hawaii,  a hotel ballroom in Boulder, on horseback in Colorado a barn in Switzerland. The choice is yours.
View Outdoor Bar Mitzvah One Minute Video >>
View photos from a recent Skiing Bat Mitzvah at Copper Mountain >>

Can the Torah go outside?

Our backpacking Torah can be used outdoors, in any location, as accessible or adventurous as your family chooses. For Boulder Bar and Bat Mitzvah, we also have a parchment Torah that can be used outside as long as the weather is clear.

We have family members who can't hike, but we know a Bar or Bat Mitzvah that includes hiking with the Adventure Rabbi is an amazing and unique experience. Is there any way we can incorporate a little hiking?

We suggest adding a little hike before the service so that those who can participate get a bit of a taste of Adventure Judaism.