B’hootz Frequently Asked Questions

A: B’hootz 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 forest 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: 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 and multi-faith — 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’hootz community. Go ahead, ask! Building pluralistic community poses challenges that can become profound learning opportunities.