Judaism Your Way’s innovative Open Tent B’nai Mitzvah program consists of: 1.) A year-long class offered in Denver and Boulder and 2.) A choice of 3 mentoring tracks and 5 ceremonial paths to prepare for and celebrate the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
What is a B’nai Mitzvah?
A B’nai Mitzvah is a Jewish celebration of a student’s coming of age. Historically, students have celebrated their Bar or Bat Mitzvah at 12 or 13, when they’re in middle school. This is a time of intense transitions for students and their parents. For students, they’re navigating the physical changes of puberty, and complex emotional/social growth. They’re also developing new intellectual capacities. Spiritually, early adolescence is a time of deep and intense questioning of received traditions, inherited stories, and the meaning of life. Early adolescence is all about trying on new identities and experimenting with new responsibilities.
For parents, watching their children rapidly change can generate anxiety and questions about roles, responsibility and power. These are not easy times for parents and students. However, Judaism can serve as a supportive resource for families moving through these changes. At Judaism Your Way, we believe there’s an exquisite beauty and power in drawing on Jewish spiritual tools, concepts, and rituals to honor and celebrate this time of life. Our goals for working with B’nai Mitzvah students and families are:
- To offer students an opportunity to explore Judaism through many lenses;
- To help students develop their own Jewish spiritual tool kit;
- To mentor students in figuring out their own answers to their core Jewish questions;
- To support parents and students in developing an authentic coming of age ceremony that honors their connection to Judaism, whatever that may look like.
“The Open Tent class and one-on-one Bar Mitzvah preparation was genuinely responsive to our son’s interests, enabling him to have an experience that was fun and engaging, while also deep and meaningful.”
About the Open Tent B’nai Mitzvah class
Open Tent uses a creative approach to learn about Judaism, Jewish history, culture, and customs. Aimed at 12 and 13 year olds, Open Tent engages students’ physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves. Our students learn how Judaism and Jewish people have evolved and changed in fascinating ways over the past 3000 years. We emphasize the rich diversity within Judaism, and we help the students begin to discover Judaism their way. They are given opportunities to make their own Jewish choices and to explore the implications of their choices with each other.
We accomplish this through having FUN! Our classes incorporate experiential learning (indoors and outdoors), cooking, text study, theater, animated shorts about the Torah, art, music, meditation, and deep discussions about students’ lives. For students with little formal Jewish educational background, Open Tent serves as a comprehensive introduction. For students with more substantial Jewish background, it touches what they might have previously learned with creative twists, and on a more sophisticated level.
Our curriculum is organized around 4 frames:
- Torah as literature: who wrote the Torah? What are some interesting metaphors and ways to think about the stories, themes, characters, and ideas in this foundational Jewish wisdom text? What is a s/hero’s journey in the Torah, and how does it relate to becoming a Bnai Mitzvah? How can we creatively engage with stories in Torah to make them relevant to our lives today, in the 21st century?
- Developing your Jewish spiritual toolkit: exploring the deep reservoir of Jewish ideas, concepts, props, tools, and practices that can enhance our well-being and sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves.
- Jewish community, people, and belonging: It’s hard to ‘do Jewish’ alone, being Jewish is all about being connected to others in community, especially when moving towards adolescence. The material, activities, and conversations in the community/people/belonging frame dovetail closely with the developmental concerns and challenges of middle school.
- Jewish time, holidays, and customs: what does it mean to ‘live in Jewish time’? We start by looking at the moon, moving through the Jewish holiday calendar, and cooking delicious dishes from around the world that are associated with the celebration of important Jewish holidays.
Our classes meet weekly over two semesters under the gentle and spirited guidance of Rabbi Brian Field, Dr. Caryn Aviv, and Rabbi Jessica Marshall. Open Tent draws on the excitement found more often in summer camp settings and engages students as active participants in their own learning and discovery.
Click here to learn more about the five different ceremonial options.
The timeline for the Open Tent program is flexible. Some students enroll in the class and complete their ceremony preparation concurrently. Others complete the class and then prepare for their ceremony. Please note that students may choose to take the class even if they are not planning to have a ceremony, but class participation is required for students who wish to work with JYW for ceremony preparation. Click here to learn about your responsibilities while your student is in our class.
B’nai Mitzvah fees:
The tuition for the two-semester Open Tent B’nai Mitzvah class is $1,800* (click here to register).
The fee for Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation and officiation for local students is between $2,000 and $3,500*. For those students who take the class and also work with us for their ceremony, the total amount is somewhere between $3,800 and 5,300*. For families with multiple children enrolled in the class or preparing for a ceremony, we are happy to offer a $500 discount.
Rabbi Field and Dr. Aviv are also available to assist with ceremony preparation and officiation for out-of-town students. Please visit our ceremony options page or contact us for more information and rates.
*No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Payment plans or reduced rates can be arranged. Please contact Sierra Shaffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-320-6185 for more information.