Pardes Levavot: a Jewish Renewal Congregation offers a unique approach to Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation: a family-centered program which meets on the first Shabbat (Saturday) of each month, starting on December 5.

Pardes Levavot Bar/Bat Mitzvah – A Unique Family-Centered Program

Join us this Shabbat, December 5, to experience our intimate community and the first session of the Family B’nai Mitzvah class.

Pardes Levavot: a Jewish Renewal Congregation offers a unique approach to Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. It’s a family-centered program which meets on the first Shabbat (Saturday) of each month.

Parents and students attend the All Ages Shabbat morning service from 10 am to noon, participating in a lively Jewish renewal service and Torah study. Following the service, and a “brown bag” lunch, parents study with Rabbi Victor Gross while the students learn with Rabbi Nadya Gross.

Your family enters our program when your child is within 2-2½ years of Bar/Bat Mitzvah age. And, recent B’nai Mitzvah at Pardes Levavot have been prepared to lead the entire morning service, chant Torah and deliver a d’var Torah (speech) with little or NO additional tutoring. (Hebrew language is taught in small groups on a weekly schedule)

Here’s what one parent, Fred Berkelhammer, has to say about our program:


“More than eight years ago, as my son was approaching ten years of age, I went looking for a Boulder area Hebrew school to prepare him to be a Bar Mitzvah.   In many ways  a typical child of Jewish secularist/modernist parents, I had dropped out of regular Jewish practice the day after my Bar Mitzvah; the whole episode had very little meaning for me, and I felt like a participant in somebody else’s event.  Based on these experiences, I anticipated a program where I would just drop Sam off 2 days a week and the rest would be taken care of for us.

“But that’s not at all what Sam and I found in the Jewish Renewal family education program led by Rabbis Nadya and Victor Gross.  He spent many hours learning from very dedicated and inspirational teachers, including the Rabbis themselves.  Their program prepared him in every respect for the moment of his being called to the Torah, but he didn’t simply deliver the prayers and his Torah portion:  he also led the service with an ease of manner that was enviable, invited the guests to participate in his drash, chanted, sang, and showed deep emotion at times.  It was a beautiful moment in our family’s lives, and we were all beaming with joy.

“Today, I know that such Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are not uncommon in Jewish Renewal congregations.  An unexpected benefit of my search for a congregation, though, was that I found a home in which my Jewish identity would awaken and became strengthened, and where I would discover in myself a thirst for Jewish learning.  This was due, in part, to the fact that the process that led to Sam’s memorable day involved the participation of our entire family.  Debra and I attended sessions where we learned from a number of teachers in the community.  We, along with the other families, learned about the meaning of Bar Mitzvah, through readings and by attending classes, services, Torah study and field trips with the Rabbis and the students.


“Reb Victor and Reb Nadya have refined the program in the intervening years.  Our second child, Sara, just became a Bat Mitzvah this summer, after completing the Pardes Levavot Family Education program.  Her Hebrew teacher, Debbi Foster, is remarkably skilled and engaging: Sara loved studying with her. And, again, the whole family attended classes, services and Torah study with the other parents and with the students.  Last year, the Rabbis and parents studied Reb Zalman’s “Jewish with Feeling” together.   And all the families learned from each other on Shabbos, during the Rebbes’ Tisch around the potluck table after services.  Our third Rabbi, Reb Ori Har was an important teacher in all these settings, too.

“The Pardes Levavot family education program provides a basis for true Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation, for the young adult and for the entire family.   It integrates well with Shabbos learning and davening.  The Bar/Bat Mitzvah student feels supported, because she attends classes with the parents and siblings, rather than just being dropped off.  The rest of the family gains the ability to more fully participate in the event itself, thus supporting their beloved son or daughter on that special day.  And he or she feels the presence and love of a real community with whom many enjoyable hours have been spent during the preparation period.  This summer, Sara was the one beaming the brightest during her service.”

Nadya4All photos by Jack Greene (

Pardes Levavot: a Jewish Renewal Congregation was formed in 2003 in the spirit of creating conscious holy community. Our name, which means “Orchard of Hearts”, expresses the spiritual blossoming of each individual heart within an inspiring and nurturing orchard. We strive for depth and openheartedness in our relationship with God and one another, offering regular Shabbat services, inspired teaching and learning, family education, heartfelt B’nai Mitzvah preparation and celebration, creative lifecycle rituals, ecstatic High HolyDays and other holiday services, and a commitment to Tikkun Olam and Deep Ecumenism. We share our home with Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and can be found at 71st and Lookout Road in Gunbarrel (NE Boulder).

About Reb Nadya

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