About Adventure Rabbi

Adventure Judaism offers a new style of congregational community

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.

In 2001, Rabbi Jamie Korngold, launched the Adventure Rabbi program with the goal of putting meaning back into Judaism. Her vision grew into what today is called Adventure Judaism, reaching people all over the world. Why? Because 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 seek.

Our Programs

Membership

Although we offer membership, even that is unconventional. Why should a family of 5 pay the same dues as a family of 1? in our congregation, you build a membership that reflects your family. And as a popular alternative, 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 Adventure Judaism, you become part of our community just by showing up.

Services

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.

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. Less frequent offerings increase and concentrate attendance.

We offer one Friday night a month in the summer months, which has become a beloved Boulder classic event. Our services are brief and joyful. (We have no interest in long, boring, sad services.)

Participant Involvement & Power to Create

Many 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.

Prayer

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 Judaism was envisioned by Rabbi Jamie 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.

When we were founded in 2001 the program  was called “Adventure Rabbi.” But 16 years later,  our staff had grown to include 3 rabbis and 3 educators as well as a vibrant congregation. In 2017  we adopted the more inclusive name of Adventure Judaism.

Come join us; let the wilderness awaken your Judaism.

Location

The Adventure Judaism Headquarters are  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. Our religious school meets in the local elementary school.

Senior Rabbi

Rabbi Jamie Korngold serves as the spiritual leader of Adventure Judaism. Rabbi Korngold received her ordination from Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, the academic, spiritual and professional development center for Reform Judaism. Her undergraduate degree (B.S. Forestry) is from Cornell University, Ithaca NY.

Creed

The Adventure Judaism is philosophically and theologically aligned with Progressive Judaism in general and the Reform Movement more specifically. We are dedicated to creating opportunities to enhance our participants’ relationship with self, community, and Judaism. 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, the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations, and outreach to interfaith families and couples.

Life-Cycle Events

Adventure Judaism offers life-cycle events for all stages of Jewish life. We have a small chapel, but these events are usually 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 Adventure Judaism 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 Adventure Judaism officiate at weddings in all sorts of venues including synagogues, back-yards, hotels, homes, parks, and mountaintops.

Funerals: Rabbis from Adventure Judaism officiate at funerals

Teaching

Adventure Judaism specializes in the 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 everyday living.

Children and Teen’s Programs

Adventure Rabbi Kids, our alternative religious school for kids in grades 1-6, is very camp like. Filled with activities, crafts, songs and games we make learning fun. We also run an engaging, fun-filled teen program in Boulder Colorado, as well as opportunities for teens to intern in our religious school.

Clergy and Educators

Rabbi Jamie Korngold, Founder and Senior Rabbi:

Rabbi Korngold is an ordained Reform Rabbi and the founder of the Adventure Rabbi Program. She is nationally recognized for her innovative work combining religion and nature..

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

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.

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 two daughters Sadie and Ori.

Rabbi Stacy Bergman, Distance Learning:

Rabbi Stacy Bergman is a dynamic and creative teacher and ceremony officiant based in Westchester, New York.

Say goodbye to boring Hebrew school classes! Rabbi Stacy believes in the power of Jewish tradition and connection to inspire and create meaning. (Imagine that – creativity, inspiration, meaning and Judaism all in the same sentence.) Whether teaching or officiating, Rabbi Stacy specializes in making Judaism creative, personal and accessible.

Rabbi Stacy brings warmth, a rich knowledge of tradition, and inclusivity to families, and students. She meets them  “where they are at”  (literally and figuratively) to create a meaningful experience.

Background:
Rabbi Stacy is originally from Baltimore, MD. She grew up in an Orthodox synagogue and she still recalls what her own rabbi said to her on the day she became a Bat Mitzvah. Through college at Tufts University Stacy was involved in Hillel and found her way into the Reform Movement. Both her hometown rabbi and her college rabbi serves as role models who inspire Stacy to pursue the rabbinate.

She received her Rabbinic Ordination and a Masters Degree in Hebrew Letters at Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR) in 1998. Rabbi Stacy serves as the part-time Assistant Rabbi at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford Corners, NY. She teaches yoga and mahjongg in her local community and can often be found hiking with her 2 dogs or singing Broadway show tunes with her husband and 3 children.

Philosophy:
Rabbi Stacy enjoys connecting with others and helping them find their own personal path to engage with Judaism. She seeks to make Judaism’s ancient tradition relevant in our modern world. Rabbi Stacy seeks to create a meaningful learning experience for her students through thoughtful preparation and personal attention.

Elaine Barenblat, Director of Educator:

Elaine is our full-time Adventure Educator, and the Director Education.

Elaine is adored by our students because she makes learning fun and genuinely cares about their experience. Her enthusiasm for Jewish learning has brought an extra spark to ARK.

In addition to ARK, Elaine tutors many of our students in Hebrew and additional Jewish studies, runs our teen program, mentors our interns and runs our 20s/30s program.

Elaine is a native of San Antonio, Texas, but has always had her heart in Colorado’s mountains. She received her Interdisciplinary Studies degree from the University of North Texas with a focus in early childhood and special education.

Rabbi Evon Yakar, Events in Lake Tahoe CA:

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 teaches in 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. Currently, rabbi Evon only accepts students who will come to Lake Tahoe for their ceremony.

Rabbi Evon lives in Lake Tahoe, California with his wife Rachel and sons Caleb and Jonah

Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith, Wedding Specialist, Boulder CO:

Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith moved to Colorado from Alabama. She is thrilled to be in Colorado. Recently retired from ten years service as a pulpit rabbi, there were some aspects of the rabbinate she wanted to continue. One of those is working with couples as they prepare their wedding. “What a joy,” she explains, “To partner with couples beginning a lifetime together to create a meaningful wedding celebration.”

Rabbi Goldsmith served Temple Emanu-el in Dothan, AL as solo rabbi from her ordination at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati in June of 2007 until her retirement in June of 2017. Lynne believes passionately in Jewish education for all ages. She was also active in the community, especially in inter-faith relations. She served on the boards of the local women’s shelter, the board of Catholic social services, and on the Ecumenical Council, a multi-faith organization dedicated to erasing poverty in the Dothan area.

Rabbi Goldsmith is married to Rob Goldsmith, and they live in Broomfield, CO. She is looking forward to getting involved in the Boulder Jewish community and spending time with her granddaughter and son and daughter in law who also live in Colorado.

Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith Wedding Colorado

David Spiegler, Educator, Arvada, CO:

David is a Psychologist with a doctorate in child and adolescent psychology, and a love of Judaism nourished over many years. Raised in an Orthodox home as a child, a Conservative synagogue through adolescence, and Reform congregations as an adult, he has always been a leader in his community, serving as President, chair of numerous committees, lay cantor for services and holidays, and as a long time teacher in various religious school settings, covering 3rd grade through Confirmation. Currently, he teaches 6th grade Hebrew, and prepares students for B’nei Mitzvah at his home congregation in the Denver, Colorado area.

Janiece Gratch, Educator, Oklahoma City, OK:

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

Janiece has worked in the field of Jewish education for the last twenty-five years. Janiece received her Masters of Science in Jewish Education from Spertus College of Jewish Studies in Chicago. She has worked with students of all ages, from toddlers to college students, but loves middle schoolers most of all.

She began her career as the Judaic Studies teacher, and later became the director of Solomon Schechter Academy in Oklahoma City. Janiece became the Hebrew School Director of Temple B’nai Israel in 2002 and retired in May of 2017. While at Temple B’nai Israel, Janiece worked as the B’nai Mitzvah Tutor.

She received her Bachelors of Science in Zoology from Oklahoma State University. She has a great love of the outdoors and is an avid birdwatcher.

 Administrative Staff

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

O’Kelly & Associates, Inc. handles the accounting for  Adventure Judaism.

Insight Deisgns WebSolutions, LLC, designed and built our website

Web Photography  is primarily by Jeff Finelstein