Bar, Bat & B’nai Mitzvah Program

The Tawonga Bar, Bat & B’nai Mitzvah program applies a modern approach to an ancient tradition: immersive monthly camp-style classes, hands-on family learning, weekend shabbatons, creative simchas and critical thinking about the history and future of Jewish ritual.

Join our Bay Area 2024-2025 Cohorts

Registration for our fall 2024 cohorts in the East Bay and San Francisco of rising 6th graders is now open!

Programming begins in September of 2024, and registrations will continue on a rolling basis until all spots are filled.

Questions? Please contact David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, at

B’nai Mitzvah Program Overview

Tawonga’s Bar, Bat & B’nai Mitzvah Program launched in the Bay Area in 2016 as a two-year 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. In this video celebrating Tawonga educator Meg Adler for receiving a Diller Educator Award, see one family’s experience being guided and supported through their daughter’s unique bat mitzvah journey.

See the following links for more information:

Girl and staff reading the Torah at a bat mitzvah

Boy and staff reading the Torah at a bar mitzvah

Children Matriculating Through the Program Will:

  • Engage in individualized and meaningful B’nai Mitzvah study
  • Be prepared for a traditional Bar, Bat or B’nai Mitzvah, or a rite of passage of their and their family’s choosing
  • Develop and connect to their Jewish identity
  • Feel a part of the Tawonga family, and part of a Jewish community
  • Explore nature and build self-esteem
  • Experience thought-provoking discussions about topics relating to teens
  • Give back to their communities and feel motivated to explore opportunities for service
  • Be inspired to continue exploring Jewish values in their daily lives

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

Who Does This Program Serve?

This two-year program begins for students entering 6th grade* and culminates in a unique and personalized B’nai Mitzvah service. Anyone is welcome to register for the program, and you don’t have to have prior Tawonga experience to join. Families will also have the chance to participate in community events and learning opportunities either in-person or virtually as safety allows.

*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. This said, we do occasionally admit students who are in 5th or 7th grade. Please email David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, at if you have any questions about the grade guidelines.

We feel very grateful for Tawonga’s non-traditional approach to the b’nai mitzvah experience for our son, which is giving him an opportunity to develop a Jewish identity and to connect with other Jewish kids.Laura Clarkson, parent

Program Evolution

The Tawonga Bar, Bat & B’nai Mitzvah Program enrolled 50 participants in its first year. This year, we launched our 8th cohort and serve more than 130 students annually. 70% of our B’nai Mitzvah families are not affiliated with a synagogue, and 40% identify as interfaith. We are excited to see our reach extending beyond an affiliation with summer camp and our programming paving multiple paths to Tawonga’s brand of joyous Judaism.

To be doing such a large piece of my life with Tawonga is like a dream come true.Solly Lezin-Schmidt, Former student

Tawonga Hebrew Classes

Tawonga Hebrew classes are a great supplement to Tawonga’s Bar, Bat, and B’nai Mitzvah Program! Classes are designed for 6th and 7th graders who want to learn the Aleph Bet (Hebrew alphabet) and how to read Hebrew words while creating friendships and building community through Tawonga.

Tawonga offers Hebrew 1 in the Fall and Hebrew 2 in the Spring. For children who are signing up for our B’nai Mitzvah Program in the Fall, you can also sign up for Hebrew 1 if you want your child to learn Hebrew. This is optional and not required for the Tawonga B’nai Mitzvah program.

Upcoming Hebrew Class Offerings:

Hebrew 1
When: Fall 2024 on Wednesdays at either 4pm or 5:15pm, October through December
Who: Current 6th and 7th graders
Where: Zoom
Cost: $330 plus materials (approximately $15)

Hebrew 2
When: Winter 2025 on Wednesdays at either 4pm or 5:15pm, January through March
Who: Current 6th and 7th graders
Where: Zoom
Cost: $330 plus materials (approximately $15)

Questions? Please contact David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, at


For additional questions about the program, please contact David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, at, or 415.852.4224.

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