B’naiture is a two-year wilderness based rite-of-passage beginning in 6th grade with independent tracks for girls and boys
A parent group explores how to best support your children at this critical time
The two-year B’naiture journey both supplements traditional B’nai Mitzvah education and serves families who do not choose to undertake traditional B’nai Mitzvah training. We welcome Jews, non-Jews, interfaith families, LGBTQ families, and people of color.
Tzvi’im: The Deer
In the first year, we focus on group building, fundamental skills, and establishing trusting mentor and peer relationships.
Nesharim: The Eagles
In the second year, the journey goes deeper, engaging in more advanced skills and mentorship that prepare your child for a year-end B’naiture wilderness solo.
B’naiture has independent and interweaving tracks for girls and boys. Traditionally, adolescent rites of passage separate boys and girls to attend to their unique needs. Read more.
The parent track teaches basic earth-based Jewish concepts, values and approaches to support your child during this rite-of-passage time.
Each School Year B’naiture Includes
(Please see our schedule for specific times and dates)
Three Camping Trips: In fall, winter, and spring we gather for several days in beautiful wilderness locations to celebrate Shabbat, camp out under the stars, connect to nature, learn wilderness and crafting skills, and build stronger relationships.
Sunday Wilderness Days: Six times throughout the season we meet in Roberts Regional Park for a full day of Jewish, nature immersion. Each meeting includes deep nature connection, crafting, and learning that draw from the theme of the Hebrew month and develop skills needed for the final solo rite of passage.
Wednesday Evening Fire Circles: Five times throughout the season, B’naiture participants gather around fires in back yards in the East Bay to practice fire skills, share in council on topics relevant to growing into their teen years, and explor seasonal Jewish themes based on theHebrew month, holidays, and Torah stories.
Parent’s Program: The parents track begins on the fall camping trip, to which parents are highly encouraged to attend, and continues throughout the season with three Wednesday evening meetings concurrent with the youth fire circle time. The parent track teaches basic concepts in earth-based Judaism, Jewish values, and exploring how to best support adolescents during this critical rite-of-passage time.
Meet the Mentors
Daniel SchoenB’naiture Lead Mentor
A five-hour Bar Mitzvah co-led by his Hebrew school teacher and a Zen monk began Daniel’s journey with rites of passage work. Travels around the globe, exposure to earth based spirituality and extended time in the wilderness have fueled Daniel’s passion for community based human development. Now, as an adult with years of working as an experiential educator, Daniel supports young people through their own unique path into adolescence.
Daniel holds a BA in Nature and Culture from UC Davis and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. Daniel is in his second year of studying deep nature connection and cultural mentoring at Weaving Earth, an immersion program in Sonoma County. Daniel loves tracking and bird language, playing piano and turning off his cell phone for Shabbat.
Rebecca SchislerB'naiture Mentor
Rebecca discovered the magic of earth-based Jewish community at Eden Village Camp in 2012, where she worked for three years and developed a rites of passage program for teens. Her passions include regenerative culture, depth psychology and holistic health, and she is particularly interested in integrating spiritual practice, embodiment, and creative process. She found home in the world of rites-of-passage during a summer of threshold-crossing and vision questing with Golden Bridge and School of Lost Borders in Colorado upon her college graduation. In addition to working with B’naiture, Rebecca leads teen programs at Wilderness Torah festivals and co-facilitated a teen backpacking trip at Kallah in Colorado in 2016.
Rebecca holds a BA in Studio Art from Wesleyan University. She currently resides deep in the redwoods of Sonoma County, where she also teaches yoga and makes art.
Jenya SchneiderB'naiture Mentor
Jenya comes to B’naiture with decades of experience being human. As an avid practitioner of natural and traditional skills, you may find her in forests foraging for food, medicine and dyes, milking goats and preparing labne for a Middle Eastern meal, or scraping hides in her backyard. She is an incessant tracer of the origins of things, especially of words and traditions.
Jenya graduated from Brown University with a BA in Religious Studies and an unofficial minor in Decolonial Studies. She garnered her earth skills at Headwaters Outdoor School in Mount Shasta, CA, where she also worked alongside midwives as an assistant and doula. She currently lives in Oakland with 15 roommates if you count the three goats, six chickens and two cats, and works as a lead mentor with Gaia Girls Passages.
John WolfstoneB'naiture Mentor
John Wolfstone hails from Colorado where he spent his youth gallivanting up rocky peaks and chasing many a critter deep into the woods, until he’d become so lost, he later claims, he was actually found.
For the past ten years, John has mentored youth into deep connection with their inner and outer wilds, using both the wonders of nature and the arts. He was a B’hootz mentor last year and led a Wilderness Torah teen backpacking trip at Kallah this past summer. He is currently a student of the Weaving Earth Relational Education program. When not in the wilderness, John is using his love of storytelling, often through video, writing, circus and song, to share narratives of a regenerative culture. See his other work.