“We have to change our lifestyle,” said the busy San Francisco mom on a phone call to Adventure Rabbi Jamie Korngold. “Between soccer, swimming, theater, and Hebrew lessons, we are in the car a zillion hours a day. I can’t even remember the last time we sat down for dinner together. I heard you help families like mine. Help!”
This is a typical call to “Adventure Judaism Headquarters,” as their small office in South Boulder is fondly called by its staff of three rabbis and three educators.
People turn to online learning for many different reasons including saving time, ease of scheduling, and access to skilled teachers. With 19 years of experience teaching Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah students online, the Adventure Judaism teachers are the experts.
“When we pioneered online education in 2001, we had a student in Bangkok – Max Wolfe- with a teacher in LA, – Bradley Cohen – and the connection on Skype was so sketchy that Brad couldn’t always tell if Max was pronouncing the “s” Hebrew letters correctly.” Korngold also reminisces about a student in Colorado Springs with whom she lost the connection every time it rained.
The technology that enables online education has come a long way since 2001. Today the team at Adventure Judaism uses GoToMeeting, Facetime, and Skype to prepare Bar and Bat Mitzvah students all over the world, without technological incident.
“My kids are so used to screens,” says Miriam from Atlanta GA “that they ease into their lessons and connect easily with the teacher. My kids actually look forward to their Hebrew lessons with Amber!”
And indeed, the students do appear to be loving their Bar Mitzvah lessons. “What surprised me the most,” says Rhonda from Boulder CO, “was the laughter. I peek in during lessons and they go like this – Hebrew, laughter, Hebrew, laughter. Who knew religious school could be this much fun?”
Adventure Judaism has no plans to offer online ceremonies. Rather, one of the rabbis packs up his or her guitar, the Torah, and prayer books and meets the family wherever the family chooses. This summer found Rabbi Korngold in France, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and Boulder; Rabbi Goldsmith in British Columbia, Canada; and Rabbi Yakar in Winter Park, Colorado and Lake Tahoe, California. Clearly, wherever your (or your child’s) dream Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah ceremony is, these adventurous rabbis will meet you there.