B’nai Mitzvah Revolution Active Learning Network

The B’nai Mitzvah Revolution Active Learning Network brings together North American congregations that are working on or interested in revolutionizing b’nai mitzvah. This network of congregations learns from experts, research, and each other in order to move to action in revolutionizing b’nai mitzvah.


Focused Learning Groups New!

Meet virtually with an expert facilitator in a topic area of your choice, learn with and from colleagues, actively engage with the B’nai Mitzvah Revolution and its resources. Join today!

Choose from the following topics:

  • Mentoring Children and Families
  • Balancing Individual and Community
  • Engaging Families

Registration for the Focused Learning Groups opened to all URJ congregations in June 2014 and will continue on a rolling basis until a group fills. The Focused Learning Groups will launch in fall 2014.

The Focused Learning Groups

Please click on each of the learning groups to learn more about the topic, the facilitator, and the scheduled meetings.

Please note that the Focused Learning Groups will begin with an introductory webinar for all participating congregations on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 – 10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST.

Balancing Individual and Community

Balancing Individual and Community

Innovations that seek to be uniquely meaningful for each student and his/her family within the context of a congregational community.

Group Description
Everyone involved in the b’nai mitzvah process — congregational professionals, students, parents, and lay leaders — face the tension between meeting individual needs and respecting established communal norms. In our work together we will consider the ways in which sacred communities can make room for individual interpretations of what it means to become bar or bat mitzvah. We’ll also consider what messages congregations communicate about their core values when preparing children and their families for this significant life cycle event. By sharing stories of experimentation, we’ll provide ample space for congregations to imagine what a balance between the community and the individual could look like in their context.

Facilitator: Tamara Gropper

TGropperTamara Gropper specializes in supporting ongoing efforts at innovation in Jewish learning.  She works extensively across denominations with congregations in the New York metropolitan area who participate in the Coalition of Innovating Congregations.  As an educational and organizational consultant with the Experiment in Congregational Education, a project of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education,  Tamara worked in partnership with the Jewish Education Project in New York documenting innovative models of learning, incorporating 21st century design principles into the design of Jewish learning, and helping congregational teams take a systemic approach to addressing the challenges and opportunities of innovation. Tamara proudly serves as a clinical faculty mentor to students in the Executive Masters program in Jewish Education at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.  Tamara received her M.A. in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles and a  subsequent M.A. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College. Tamara lives in Harrison, NY with her husband, Rabbi Daniel Gropper, and their three children.

Dates: Tuesdays, 11 am PST/2 pm EST

  • October 22, 2014 – 10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST (For all ALN congregations)
  • November 18, 2014
  • January 20, 2015
  • March 10, 2015
  • May 12, 2015

Engaging Families

Engaging Families

Innovations that involve families before, during and following b’nai mitzvah preparation and celebration in order to promote engagement beyond the b’nai mitzvah years.

Group Description
This group will take a holistic approach to engaging the entire family unit, parents and children. We will also explore how listening and responding to families has the potential to shape and change the congregation.

Facilitator: Wendy Grinberg

WGrinbergWendy is the founder and director of her own Jewish education consulting business, the Jewish Education Lab (jewishedlab.com). She received joint master’s degrees from Brandeis University in Jewish Education and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and is currently earning a Doctor of Education degree at the William Davidson Graduate School of Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Wendy also serves as clinical faculty for graduate students in Jewish education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She volunteers on the board and executive committee of her congregation, where she chairs the families with young children committee.

Responding to the many congregations interested in this group, there will be two separate groups focusing on Engaging Families.  Based on your responses to the registration questions, your congregation will be assigned to the group that we believe best matches your stage with this work.

Group A

Dates: Thursdays, 10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern

  • October 22, 2014 – 10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST (For all ALN congregations)
  • November 20
  • January 8
  • March 26
  • May 21

Group B

Dates: Tuesdays, 10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST

  • October 22, 2014 – 10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST (For all ALN congregations)
  • December 2
  • January 13
  • April 7
  • June 2

Mentoring Children and Families

Mentoring Children and Families

Innovations that connect b’nai mitzvah students and/or families with others in the congregational community who will nurture, teach and guide them on the journey.

Group Description
If, as the old saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” imagine what would be possible if we embraced the idea that it takes a congregation to prepare a bar or bat mitzvah. By tapping into our community’s wisdom, skills, and passions by strategically connecting others to bar and bat mitzvah students, our young people can learn, be inspired, gain support, and build lasting relationships. Plus, those who serve as mentors benefit as well. In this group, we will explore different models of mentoring and engagement, brainstorm how we can apply mentoring to students and families, explore the benefits for the individuals and the congregation, and develop innovations with clear and measurable goals.

Facilitator: Beth Steinhorn
BSteinhornBeth Steinhorn is a nationally recognized leader, writer, and innovator in volunteer and member engagement. As part of her extensive experience as a Jewish communal professional, she served as the founding Executive Director of Limmud Colorado, as Marketing Director for the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education, and author of several Jewish volunteer engagement resources. As a consultant, she has worked with museums, education agencies, health and human services organizations, volunteer centers, and universities, including Jewish Family Services, Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, Repair the World, and STAR: Synagogue Transformation and Renewal. In addition to presenting at local and national conferences, Beth has edited and published many articles and books.

Dates: Tuesdays, 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern

  • October 22, 2014 – 10:00 am PST/1:00 pm EST (For all ALN congregations)
  • November 4
  • January 13
  • March 10
  • April 28

 

Before You Register

We strongly recommend that you work with your congregational team to determine which group will be best for your congregation’s needs. To do this, please watch the ALN webinar about b’nai mitzvah innovations and use this protocol to guide your group’s process.

To complete the application, you will need the following information available: congregation name, size, city, state, number of expected b’nai mitzvah students in 2014-2015, and names and emails of at least three team members. There are also two short-answer questions.

Please be in touch with questions to bnaimitzvah@urj.org.

Register Now

Active Learning Network Learning Units and Materials

In the first phase of the ALN, congregations engaged in four learning units, each including a webinar and assignments for congregational teams. These learning units and supporting materials are now on our Resources Page.

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