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My Mitzvah at B'nai Havurah

My Mitzvah is a one-year B’nai (Bar/Bat) Mitzvah program open to all Jewish youth and their families, providing them with the identity and skills needed to be Jewish in today’s world.

Students from diverse backgrounds and levels of knowledge train together toward individual and shared goals, while families find a welcoming, non-judgmental place in which to grow Jewishly in community with others. 

My Mitzvah is housed by B'nai Havurah and participants may choose to hold their celebration in our building. We welcome members and non-members alike.

Register Now!

Registration is now open for this year's My Mitzvah program.  You can click the button for the form to fill in and submit it.  We look forward to having you join us.

 

My Mitzvah is...

  • Rooted in the words, melodies and culture of Jewish traditions. Reading Hebrew is not required. 
  • Personally relevant: Each student will connect to and engage with today’s Judaism in their own way and at their own pace.
  • Family-involving: We will celebrate Shabbat and holidays together, growing into the richness of our heritage.
  • Fresh: Our thoughtful, modern take on prayer language reflects an emphasis on tikkun olam -- our responsibility to humanity and the planet.
  • Inclusive of different learning styles, backgrounds, all gender identities, all family constellations and all types of families: traditionally Jewish, questioning, interfaith, those identifying with any or no denomination within Judaism.
Two Monthly Classes for Students
(one in person, one remote)
  • Mitzvah classes focus on Torah, Jewish identity,  and service leadership. 
  • Shirah classes focus on practicing songs and prayers, with students reading transliteration or Hebrew, or progressing from one to the other.
Family Gatherings
  • Periodic opportunities for connecting, sharing experiences, and learning by doing.
  • 5 to 7 celebrations for families built around holidays and Shabbat.
  • 2 to 4 smaller casual gatherings for 2-3 families. 
Individual Meetings with Rabbi/Facilitator 
  • 3 in-person meetings with student for study and planning of tikkun olam (service) project and D’var Torah speech or alternate presentation.
  • 2 in-person meetings with family to choose date; start planning; and individualize the service/program and siddur/booklet.
  • Additional check-ins as needed
Interactive Siddur

Each student has their own digital siddur that serves as study text, holds student’s ideas and questions, and provides a template for the final service/program and siddur/booklet

 

Who is B'nai Havurah?

B'nai Havurah (in Hebrew, "Bunch of Friends") has been a Denver Jewish community for 60 years. We were formed by young Jews from observant backgrounds who wanted to revitalize Judaism for a modern Western world. We were the first in Denver to have women read from the Torah, the first to have instrumental music at our services, the first to reconstruct our prayers to be non-gendered and non-patriarchal. We are an inclusive, caring, thinking community based on social action, rich cultural heritage, and joyous practice. We are affiliated with the "Reconstructing Judaism" movement and we are empowered by Mordecai Kaplan's teaching that, in Judaism, "belonging and behaving come before believing." These three tenets shape the My Mitzvah program.

Belonging: My Mitzvah participants and their families will experience what it means to "do Jewish" in the context of a havurah -- a Jewish group. We'll get together monthly, as families, to eat, drink, learn and do. 

Behaving: What does it mean to "do Jewish?" How might ritual and Jewish culture enrich our lives? Are there any rituals our family might want to add to our repertoire? What does Judaism have to teach us about righteousness and justice?  We'll explore these questions, but, more importantly, we will actively experience Jewishness in all its richness.  

Believing: What we believe as Jews is a tapestry of traditional ideas, lived experiences and personal convictions. What kind of world do we believe in, and how does that influence our actions in the world?  

My Mitzvah tuition also gets you a seat at our acclaimed, thoughtful, musical services -- at High Holy Days or any time of year -- as well as opportunities to do social action, celebrate, learn and socialize with the greater B'nai Havurah community.  

Your joyfully relevant B’nai Mitzvah is just one year away. 

Let’s get started!  

You can find the registration form HERE.

If you have questions about My Mitzvah, please contact Risa at risaaqua25@gmail.com. Or click on the link below for frequently asked questions.

 

 

 

 

Program Directors

 

Risa Aqua

Risa Aqua has been teaching Hebrew for over 30 years, preparing children for B’nai Mitzvah for the past 15, and co-led dozens of B'nai Mitzvah with Hal Aqua. Risa has developed effective strategies for teaching prayer, Hebrew and Torah chanting to people of all abilities, aiming for challenge and growth without stress or embarrassment.

Risa also has a parallel career as a watercolor artist, designer and calligrapher.

 

 

 

 

Hal Aqua

Hal Aqua has been B'nai Havurah's Music Director for 15 years and currently serves as B'nai's Cantorial Ritual Director. Hal has provided musical leadership for hundreds of bar and bat mitzvah services, working with rabbis throughout Colorado and in neighboring states. He has also (with Risa Aqua) co-led dozens of B'nai Mitzvah, working closely with families to craft services that are warm, personal, and fulfilling. Hal has been a familiar presence in the wider Denver Jewish community, leading klezmer fusion band Hal Aqua and The Lost Tribe and organizing popular community events like the Jews Do Jews concert series and the annual KlezFest.

Tue, October 26 2021 20 Cheshvan 5782