Family retreat aims to invigorate bnai mitzvah preparation

Hundreds of “tweens” and young teens will be re-imagining an ancient rite of passage in August at a weeklong Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Retreat in Falls Village, Conn.

The program is run by an enthusiastic group of rabbis and educators who use creative art projects, wilderness adventure and interactive text study to make bar- and bat mitzvah preparation exciting for adolescent Jews and their families.

The program, which is designed as more of a family-oriented spiritual journey than a practical bar/bat mitzvah preparatory course, will take place Aug. 20-26 at the Elat Chayyim Center for Jewish Spirituality at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. It provides an opportunity for teens to explore their changing roles in the Jewish community as they enter adolescence, while their parents receive practical support in how to make their child’s bar- or bat mitzvah meaningful for everyone involved.

Staff includes:

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, a longtime congregational rabbi, performance artist, klezmer musician, dancer and peace educator;

Rabbi David Ingber, who has training in the Orthodox world and Renewal Judaism;

Andrew Stempel, who facilitates adventure programming for Jewish youth (including at Camp Tawonga), specializing in ropes course and wilderness camping experiences;

Amelie Davidson, who works with children and teenagers around issues of bar- and bat mitzvah preparation, urban farming and nutrition.

The retreat is open to any family whose child plans to have a bar- or bat mitzvah between September 2007 and June 2009. It is open to interfaith and mixed-heritage families who are not presently affiliated with a synagogue, as well as families with longstanding affiliation as synagogue members.

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