B’naiture is a two-year, experiential program that uses nature as a vehicle to explore the transition from childhood to adolescence. Separated into boys’ and girls’ tracks, participants meet in homes and local parks, and participate in three camping trips each year. The program focuses on developing outdoor skills, connecting to Judaism in an embodied way, and establishing trusting mentor and peer relationships. Groups are led by mentors who are grounded in the values of earth-based Judaism and who spend one-on-one time with participants. The program culminates with a solo wilderness fire-tending experience for each child, a welcome-home ceremony with family and friends, and a commitment to a new, measurable, achievable mitzvah that relates to taking on increased responsibilities. A two-year parallel parent track teaches earth-based Jewish concepts, values, and approaches to supporting children during this developmental transition and through the rite of passage.
In shaping this program, serious thought had to be given to considering what it means to support teens as they enter adolescence, how that links to Judaism, and how young people can meaningfully demonstrate that through a rite of passage.
Grade levels: 6, 7
Learners: Children (pre-B’nai Mitzvah), Parents
Families have the option of enrolling in this program in addition to or instead of a congregation-based program.
Year Implemented: 2009
Wilderness Torah: Center for Earth-Based Judaism
B’nai Mitzvah each year: 30