Yesod, Hebrew for “foundation,” is a year-long, nature-based, B’nei Mitzvah experience for youth seeking a meaningful right-of-passage that weaves together Jewish wisdom and ritual, nature-connection, and wilderness skills with community and identity building.
What is Yesod?
Yesod (Hebrew for “foundation”) is a year-long program that grounds youth in their Jewish heritage through a group experience that is rooted in the natural world. With a strong focus on deep nature-connection, joyful Jewish ritual, and interdependent resilience, our mentors support and guide our B’nei Mitzvahs in their first steps on the path of adulthood.
The Yesod program includes*:
- Yamim (Days) B’Naiture (Sundays)
Monthly outdoor gatherings in natural spaces, including Bela Farm, Earl Bales Park, and High Park. Participants will build their wilderness skills and awareness while engaging in embodied learning that draws from the Hebrew calendar and the narratives and wisdom of Jewish history and teachings. Youth will engage in group, one-on-one, and solo experiences to build collaboration and independence. Our nature-based programs are both structured and flexible, affording our mentors the openness to adapt to and follow the interests and energies of our participants.
- Evenings B’Yachad (Together) (Wednesdays)
Monthly evening gatherings (some of which are open to parents, mentors, and care-givers). These evenings will expand the Yesod community beyond the student-mentor relationships. Yesod seeks to make youth aware of the many tendrils of connection and community that are already within reach and amplify the diverse voices around them that carry tradition and knowledge. These evenings will involve crafting (participants will create individualized Jewish ritual objects over the course of the program), wilderness awareness training, and community sharing circles.
- Shabbat B’Naiture
A closing Shabbaton camping experience in the wilderness of Southern/Central Ontario. When practiced with awareness and intention, Shabbat can bring about profound experiences of awe and wonder. Shabbat will be made all the more special by being among the rocks, trees, and waters of Creation. Shabbat B’Naiture will be an opportunity to connect deeply to prayer/conversation with Creator and spirituality through meditation and song. Each moment will be an opportunity to create lasting memories and friendships with other participants. Everyone will be encouraged to cultivate responsibility for themselves and their peers, and prepare for a Jewish adulthood where Creation is held sacred.
*Given the limitations and challenges posed by the current COVID-19 pandemic, exact locations are still to be determined. We anticipate that the Evenings B’Yachad on Wednesdays will be hosted outdoors (in various natural and wild spaces in midtown and downtown Toronto) and/or online and that the Sunday B’Naiture programs will be able to take place outside with physical distancing maintained. We are hopeful that by spring 2022 we will be able to host a Shabbaton camping experience at either Bela Farm or a camping site within two-hours of Toronto.
Who is this for?
Yesod is for Jewish youth in Grades 7 and 8 who are seeking a hands-on, meaningful rite-of-passage experience that brings Jewish values, rituals and teachings to life through deep connection with the natural world. Yesod might be the right fit for someone wondering how Judaism applies to their life or where they fit within Jewish tradition; someone looking for an alternative to the traditional b’nei mitzvah experience; and/or someone looking to ground and guide their b’nei mitzvah preparations and celebrations in Jewish wisdom, the outdoors and intentional community. All levels of Jewish learning and practice are welcome.
Who are the Yesod mentors?
Yesod’s mentors are there to breathe energy and focus into a participant’s passage into Jewish adulthood. With their feet planted firmly in the soil, mentors will centre the B’nei Mitzvah’s experiential learning, supporting growth with teachings from relevant Jewish sources and wilderness awareness training.
Tamar Goldberg is a talmud-toting tree hugger. Her work in trees in Toronto’s public and private sector and her years of experience leading canoe trips for Camp Ramah in Canada have led her to the inevitable conclusion that the best place to be is outside. Tamar has studied in many institutions of Jewish learning, including TanenbaumCHAT, Associated Hebrew Schools, Pardes, BASE, and Urban Adamah. She draws on her diverse experiences in the Jewish and natural world to help others to become students of the wilderness. As a founding resident of Moishe Pod Toronto, she is dedicated to creating and facilitating Jewish community gatherings focused on ritual, song, and nature connection, with the ultimate goal of building a just society.
Paul Kitz has always been drawn to big questions — Where does Truth lie? How can I grow more intimate with life? How can we, collectively, live in a way that honours the dignity of life in ourselves and others? What does healing look like? These kinds of questions have taken Paul into politics, into the wilderness, and on a meandering spiritual journey that has included being ba’al teshuvah, leaving Judaism, and connecting with teachers from various traditions before reconnecting with Judaism through family, lineage and ancestry. Throughout his life, Paul has found much joy, connection and purpose in spending time with young people. He is a Child and Youth Care Practitioner that has worked with individuals and groups from family homes to summer camps, ballet schools to hospices. He is blessed to currently work in a mentorship role with people of all ages (but mostly kids and teens) in the context of nature, and couldn’t be more excited to support B’nei Mitzvah living into their own big questions at such a potent time in their lives.
What does Jewish learning look like in Yesod?
Throughout the entirety of the Yesod program, participants will be invited to explore, question, and vision their relationship to Jewish cycles of time, ritual, prayer/communication with Creator/Divine, texts, and ethics. Yesod takes a pluralistic approach to cultivating Jewish identity for its participants. Participants’ unique Jewish (and other religious/cultural/ancestral) backgrounds will be respected and welcomed when openly discussing Jewish observance and values, and grappling with the complexities of Jewish tradition. By amplifying diverse voices, Yesod aims to create a supportive environment to foster individual and collective growth.
Yesod runs from September 2021-June 2022/5782. The following are the relevant program dates:
Yesod Opening Circle (for participants and families)
- Tuesday, September 14, 2021 from 7:00-9:00pm
Evenings B’Yachad: Wednesdays from 7:00-9:00pm
- October 13, 2021
- November 10, 2021
- December 1, 2021
- January 12, 2022
- February 9, 2022
- March 9, 2022
- March 30, 2022
- May 11, 2022
Yom B’Naiture Outings: Sundays from 10:00am-4:00pm
- September 26, 2021
- October 24, 2021
- November 21, 2021
- December, 12, 2021
- January 23, 2022
- February 27, 2022
- March 20, 2022
- April 10, 2022
- May 15, 2022
- Friday, June 10 – Sunday, June 12, 2022 (Times TBD)
Yesod Closing Circle
- June 15, 2022 from 7:00-9:00pm
Yesod programs and activities will take place at various parks, ravines, and urban wild spaces in midtown and downtown Toronto, including Earl Bales Park, Cedarvale Ravine, Dufferin Grove Park, and High Park. As well, some Yom B’Naiture Sunday programs will take place at Bela Farm and conservation areas within a one-hour drive of Toronto. The closing Shabbaton will take place at Bela Farm or a camping site within a two-hour drive of Toronto. Some programming, if it cannot be offered outdoors and socially distanced, may need to be offered online due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The full cost of the Yesod B’Nei Mitzvah program is $2400/participant. Through the generous support of the Grad Family Foundation and the HALO FUND, we are able to offer all participants a reduced program fee of $2000 for our inaugural year. As well, program subsidies are available from the Michelle Kopman Memorial Fund for Nature-Based Education. This fund was set up in 2018 by the family and friends of Michelle Kopman (z”l) to help support our work offering children meaningful opportunities for nature-connection, rooted in Jewish values and teachings. To apply for the subsidy, please call us directly at 416-805-8382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To register, kindly fill out the online registration form. Once received, you will be contacted to set up a short phone interview to ensure that Yesod is a good fit for your family. Following the interview, you will be asked to remit your full payment in order to secure your spot in the program.
A full refund (less $100 non-refundable deposit) will be issued to any cancellation made before 28 calendar
days prior to the start date of the program. There will be no refunds issued for cancellations after 28 days
prior to the program start date.
In-person programs run in all weather. In the event of extreme weather, a program may need to be rescheduled. No refunds will be issued for programs rescheduled due to extreme weather.
If a participant is unable to attend a session of Yesod due to illness, no refund will be issued.
Shoresh reserves the right to cancel a program or change a program’s duration, price, or location.
The above cancelation policy is not applicable during a time of force majeure or circumstances beyond our control (eg. pandemic, quarantine, natural disaster, etc.)
Cancelation due to COVID-19
If a participant is unable to attend Yesod due to illness or quarantine, we are, unfortunately, unable to issue a refund for days missed. If we are forced to shut down Yesod due to government mandate or other COVID-related circumstances, families will be issued a 50% prorated refund for each day missed.
For more information, please email Tamar Goldberg at email@example.com or call 416-805-8382.
Information and Accessibility
For more information, or to discuss any accessibility needs you have in order to be able to participate in Yesod, please contact Tamar Goldberg, B’nei Mitzvah Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-805-8382.