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Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program

Registration for our 2018 Cohort is now open to returning Tawonga families and will open to new families on December 13! In 2018 we will serve two cohorts, one in San Francisco and one in the East Bay.

Tawonga’s Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program feels like the perfect match for our daughter, Sadie and for our family. This is really filling the void for what seems like a lot of families.” – Kim Hoffman, parent

Program Overview

Tawonga’s Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program is an innovative approach to the B’nai Mitzvah experience, providing youth the opportunity to come of age in a Tawonga-style program. By incorporating nature, community building, social justice, and experiential Jewish learning into our program, we ensure this important milestone is individualized and accessible for each and every child. Camp Tawonga has served as a leader in Jewish camping for a near century with a proven track record in facilitating character development and positive self-growth in children and teens, and we are thrilled to apply this holistic approach to B’nai Mitzvah study for our community.

Children matriculating through the program will:

  • Engage in individualized and meaningful B’nai Mitzvah study
  • Develop and connect to their Jewish identity
  • Feel a part of the Tawonga family
  • Explore nature
  • Build self-esteem
  • Feel motivated to give back to their communities
  • Be inspired to continue exploring Jewish values in their daily lives

This two-year program will begin for students entering 6th grade* and will culminate in a unique and personalized B’nai Mitzvah service. The experience will consist of thought-provoking discussions about topics relating to teens, engaging activities and outdoor adventures led by trained and experienced Tawonga staff and song leaders. Families will also have the chance to participate in community events and learning opportunities.

*This program is geared towards 6th graders, so that by the time participants have completed this two-year program, the majority of them have turned 13. Please call our Program Coordinator at (415) 543-2267 if you have any questions about the grade guidelines.

*Year One:

  • Experiential learning through outdoor education, social justice and leadership
  • Overnight weekend retreats and hikes
  • Community building for youth and families
  • Exploration of spirituality, Jewish values, prayers and torah
  • Family programming and learning
*Year Two:

  • Mitzvah Project: community engagement or volunteering in an area of choice
  • D’rash (sermon) preparation and mentorship
  • Continued prayer and Torah study and coaching
  • Creation of ideal B’nai Mitzvah service 
  • More learning, community building, and outdoor excursions

*Specifics subject to change

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about Tawonga’s Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program.

Click to download our Tawonga Bar and Bat Mitzvah Program Parent Guidebook.

Cost of $2,895 per Year Includes:

Seven 3-hour kitot (classes)
All experiential-learning curriculum
Retreats (two per year)
Education and song leading from premier staff
Family learning opportunities (one Shabbat, one Havdalah & one family hike)
Prayer & Torah coaching in transliteration
D’rash (sermon) preparation (during year two only)
Mentorship from trained Tawonga staff
Support from Tawonga program manager
Planning and preparation for the B’nai Mitzvah Service
Optional use of our Torah, Siddurim, and Kipot


2016 Inaugural Cohort

Tawonga’s Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program launched its inaugural cohort in Fall 2016 with 60 families from across the Bay Area. These families joined together in September 2016 for a kick-off orientation and recently explored the beauty of the Bay through a Saturday family hike.


We are two moms and an 11-year-old kid who all love Tawonga immensely. We did not think twice about signing up for the B’nai Mitzvah program at Tawonga – the mission, values and format are so resonant for us.

– Laurie and Alexis Lezin-Schmidt, parents

Now with our oldest soon to be 13, we were really happy to find the Tawonga program. It’s a way to introduce him to some of the spiritual elements of Judaism and to create a framework for thinking about his own spirituality and passage to adulthood.
– Sarah and Noam Livnat, parents

I’m learning that being Jewish is a lot about family and friends and being together. We don’t have to be super religious; we can just be Jewish, and I like that.

Eli E., student

My kid was reluctant about going on the weekend retreat. But, when I picked her up two days later, she barely glanced up at me, as she was having so much fun with her new friends.
Michelle M., parent

Student Spotlight: Eli

“Tawonga is helping me connect to Judaism.” Read Eli’s story sharing his experience in the program here.




Join a Parent Information Session

Dates for upcoming Parent Information Sessions coming soon!

Press and Stories

readhere“Who Said Camp Has to Be in the Summer? Camp Tawonga Down the Mountain”
By Jon Moskin, posted by The Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties

Read Associate Executive Director Jamie Simon’s blog post for more about the approach Tawonga’s Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program and why Tawonga is launching this program.


readhereAlso check out this article in JNS, which features this program’s unique individualized program model.



Program Funders

Camp Tawonga is grateful to the supporters of our Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program:

The Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust
The Leslie Family Foundation

One-Page Overview

Here’s a one page overview outlining Tawonga’s Bar & Bat Mitzvah Program. Feel free to forward to a friend who might be interested in the program!


For additional questions about the program, please contact Anna Akullian, Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or 415.543.2267.