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 2023-2024 Cohort

Register now for our fall 2023 cohort of rising 6th graders! Programming begins September 10, and the deadline to apply is August 31.

Questions? Please contact David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, at griz@tawonga.org.

Online Info Sessions on

Tawonga’s B’nai Mitzvah Program

Wednesday, June 14 | Virtual on Zoom (register here) | 7-8 pm

Our two-year program brings the magic of Tawonga to the Bay Area and gives students a unique way to approach this milestone moment through community, nature, and experiential learning. We are currently enrolling rising 6th grade students for this coming fall, and we’d love to share more about the program with you!

This is a great opportunity to meet Meg Adler, Associate Director of Bay Area Programs, and David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs.

At these info sessions, Griz and Meg will share a programmatic overview, our pedagogical approach, and the exciting ways we are innovating the B’nai Mitzvah journey. Hear how students in this program are encouraged to explore their unique connections to Jewish culture and how to take our ancestors’ customs and translate them in meaningful expressions for today.

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 2023 on Thursdays at either 4pm or 5:15pm, Oct 5 – Dec 14, 2023
*no class Nov 23 or Dec 7
Who: Current 6th and 7th graders
Where: Zoom
Cost: $300 plus materials (approximately $15)

Hebrew 2
When: Winter 2024 on Thursdays at either 4pm or 5:15pm, Jan 4 – Mar 14, 2024
*no class Feb 22
Who: Current 6th and 7th graders
Where: Zoom
Cost: $300 plus materials (approximately $15)

Questions? Please contact David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, at griz@tawonga.org.

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.

Check out this program snapshot document to learn more.

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
  • Develop and connect to their Jewish identity
  • Feel a part of the Tawonga family
  • Explore nature and build self-esteem
  • Experience thought-provoking discussions about topics relating to teens
  • Feel motivated to give back to their communities
  • 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. Please email David “Griz” Griswold, Assistant Director of Bay Area Programs, at griz@tawonga.org 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 6th cohort and serve 144 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

Questions

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

Program Funders

Camp Tawonga is grateful to the supporters of our Bar, Bat & B’nai Mitzvah Program:


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