B’naiture Frequently Asked Questions


A: B’naiture is an experiential, mentorship program that focuses on embodied, nature-based learning — we weave Jewish teachings, story, and song with wilderness skills, nature awareness, challenges, and community building experiences. There are no walls, no desks, and usually no paper. The outdoors is our classroom.

Wilderness Torah youth programs do not replace synagogue Hebrew school education, where students formally learn skills such as Hebrew, Torah, and prayer.

Rather, Wilderness Torah’s programs engage youth in the natural world through Jewish stories, teachings, songs, and prayers to help youth learn about themselves, become more self-reliant, and deepen their relationship to nature and Jewish tradition.

For many families, our programs are their stand-alone source of Jewish education, while roughly ⅓ additionally enroll their children at Hebrew schools or Jewish day schools.

Young people who come with very little background in Jewish learning often reflect feeling a newfound sense of Jewish identity through learning prayers, songs, and understanding the Hebrew calendar.

Children with more Jewish education background often reflect on the balance our programs provide through embodied experience to the intellectually focused school environment and discover an enlivened relationship to their faith.

A: B’naiture can supplement traditional B’ Mitzvah education and serves families who do not choose to undertake traditional training.

Traditional Bar, Bat, and B’ Mitzvah ceremonies are not a part of the B’naiture program goals or curriculum. We celebrate the coming-of-age process with a strong focus on the culminating fire solo, and explore becoming an adult within a Jewish context.

About half of our participants prepare for a traditional ceremony outside of B’naiture, and for about half this is their stand alone Jewish coming of age experience.

Some families work with our staff to decide what fits for them and how to bridge their child’s experience in B’naiture with family and community life, be that through their b’mitzvah, a communal celebration of their B’naiture experience, or other creative ideas.

A: B’naiture is a two-year journey.

In the first year youth develop basic skills and build relationships with their peers and mentors.

The second year cohort builds upon the skills from the first year, allowing them to take on greater challenge, adventure, independence, and advanced skills.

Second year youth are guided into deeper introspection regarding their coming-of-age from child to teenager, take on more responsibility within the program, and engage in higher level skills and activities including fire and nature-based Judaica crafting, among others.

As a culmination of the two-years of skill building and experience, each second year mentee graduates through a final overnight solo (or other appropriate challenge) designed to reveal their inner strength, celebrate their unique gifts, and mark their passage into their teenage years.

A: The transition from childhood to adolescence is marked by a growing sense of identity that crosses and connects many aspects of a person’s life. Gender dynamics tend to be very influential during these years.

At B’naiture we define gender as a dynamic relationship between one’s body, self-identity and expression. Gender can be experienced as a binary (boy/girl), it can be experienced expansively (non-binary/trans/queer/fluid/etc), and it can be experienced in infinite ways that we haven’t even created language for yet. Each year we learn more about how to best work with gender in B’naiture, our intention is to include and respect all gender identities.

Our experience confirms current psychological research that shows how young people at this age generally experience and process things differently depending on their gender identity.

In order to create the safety needed to connect with one’s truth we create gender break out times where youth place themselves in the gendered group of their choice. Regardless of cohort, all our kids will engage with the full spectrum of skills, activities, and Jewish learning.

A: Wilderness Torah supports pluralistic Jewish community experiences that aim to be inclusive of all participants, welcoming all levels of familiarity and identification with Jewish tradition. Framed by the rhythms of the Jewish calendar, our youth programs create a Jewish cultural experience steeped in Jewish stories, songs, and crafts.

We welcome participants of all backgrounds — Jewish, multi-faith and beyond — and celebrate diversity of Jewish knowledge, practice, belief, and expression. We focus on the earth-based aspects of Jewish tradition and seek to model and create Jewish community that is inclusive and supportive of all participants in cultivating meaningful, personal relationships with Judaism.

Wilderness Torah creates a pluralistic community platform where individuals of the range of religious observance can participate. We support the observance of Jewish law, such as Shabbat and kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), and provide our diverse community with many options for religious observance.

We invite all families to get curious about differences they perceive among Jewish practices within the B’naiture community. Go ahead, ask! Building pluralistic community poses challenges that can become profound learning opportunities.

A: Shabbat (sabbath), the seventh and final day of the week, is a day of rest, and of reveling in the innate perfection of Creation, the world around us, and our lives as is. Shabbat is one of the most central traditions held across Judaism.

Honoring this day becomes a craft in itself, and some of the most unexpected, deeply connective magic has arisen in our programs over the years from honoring and uplifting its unique practices.

We create an inclusive, welcoming, and rejuvenating environment while observing traditional practices such as refraining from technology use, lighting and tending fire, and from crafting.

In addition to being delicious, kid friendly, and organic whenever possible, food served on our camping trips observes traditional the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut (keeping kosher).

All food served by Wilderness Torah is kosher, except for a few small exceptions. In making its food choices, Wilderness Torah prepares food according to the highest ethical standards, including kosher, local, organic, seasonal, humane, and socially just. Wilderness Torah prioritizes sourcing fresh, unprocessed foods, and when choosing processed or packaged foods, aims to purchase certified kosher foods. Wilderness Torah may at times prioritize certain values, such as local or organic, over kosher-certified. When such a choice is warranted, we will share such decisions openly, and a kosher option will be available. Example: We purchased local, homemade, organic bagels that were not kosher but we had kosher bread choices available.Our kitchen is kosher, however we do not employ a mashgiach (someone who supervises kashrut, the guidelines for keeping kosher). Please ask if you want more details on how we prepare and maintain kashrut in our wilderness kitchen.