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My Mitzvah at B'nai Havurah

Classes start Sunday, October 8, 2023

My Mitzvah is a one-year B’nai (Bar/Bat) Mitzvah program open to all Jewish youth and their families. 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 a program of B'nai Havurah and welcomes members and non-members alike. Program fees include the use of our building for your ceremony.

Register Now!

Registration is open for our 2023/24 Mitzvah program. Classes start October 8, 2023. We look forward to having you join us.

CLICK HERE to register.

Tuition for one student for 2023/24 academic year  $3600

Sibling discount  -$150
Combined ceremony discount  -$150 (if two siblings or non-siblings share a ceremony)

B’nai Havurah member discount -$1800 (applies to those families who have been members in good standing for 1 year or more prior to the start of My Mitzvah)

((Non-BH-members’ ceremonies are led by Mitzvah Mavens Risa and Hal Aqua. BH Members’ ceremonies are led by Rabbi Katie Mizrahi.)

My Mitzvah is...

  • Rooted in the words, melodies, teachings and culture of our Jewish traditions. Art and dance are a regular part of every class period. Reading Hebrew using the Hebrew alef-bet 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. We consider our class to be a "Mitzvah Lab" in which to practice and experience supportive community.

  • Fresh: Our thoughtful, modern take on prayer language reflects an emphasis on tikkun olam -- our responsibility to humanity and the planet.

  • Action-oriented: Since doing acts of kindness is a principal Jewish value, at least three or four of our class sessions will be hands-on participatory Mitzvah Projects.

  • 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.

  • Family-involving: A few times during the year, we will come together (usually just briefly at the end of class) to celebrate a holiday with the children or just to get to know each other.

Two Monthly Classes with a variety of modes and subjects

  • Mitzvah: What is it, and what does it have to do with being a Jew and a good person?

  • Singing and prayer: Students learn and practice by reading Hebrew or transliteration, or progressing from one to the other as skills improve. 

  • Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) with participatory Mitzvah Projects

  • Torah: How does it relate to me and my life?

  • Art and dance 

  • Community: Students make up a Havurah (group of friends) with whom to share their journey and practice supporting each other.

Individual Meetings with Rabbi or Mitzvah Mavens

  • Two to three meetings with student to help prepare their D’var Torah (teaching/speech) or presentation.

  • Two meetings with family to choose a date; start planning; and individualize the service/program and siddur/booklet.

  • Additional check-ins as needed.

  • Dress rehearsal before the big event.

Shabbat B’yachad Family Services 

Our class has the opportunity to join the B’nai Havurah community several times during the year for a special Shabbat service centered on our students and their growing leadership skills. 


Interactive Digital Siddur

Each student has their own digital siddur that serves as their study text and provides a template for the final service/program and siddur/booklet.


About Tutoring 

Private or semi-private tutoring provides the individualized instruction that is required for a student to learn to read Hebrew, and/or to read or chant from Torah and/or Haftarah. This tutoring takes place simultaneously with the one-year My Mitzvah Program, but can also start before a child is old enough for My Mitzvah (see Hebrew 4U below). Tutoring is not included in the cost of My Mitzvah. We can, however, help to match you with one of our tutors, and to coordinate with the tutor on your child’s progress.


Hebrew 4U Prep Year(s) for younger students

Hebrew 4U is a great way to set up your younger student for B’nai Mitzvah ease and success. It is a long-standing program consisting of private or semi-private tutoring, either remote or in-person. The curriculum focuses on Hebrew reading and includes a variety of fun activities to keep students motivated and engaged. If you wish, we will try to match your child with a study partner (chevruta) to encourage social growth and to keep the cost down. We will also match your child with a tutor within our program; you will schedule and work out payment directly with the tutor.

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 a group of young Jews 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 tenets shape the My Mitzvah program.

Belonging: My Mitzvah participants will experience what it means to "do Jewish" in the context of a havurah -- a Jewish group of friends. Parents will also have chances to get to know each other.

Behaving: What does it mean to "do Jewish?" How might ritual and Jewish culture enrich our lives? What does Judaism have to teach us about righteousness and justice?  We'll explore these questions as we actively support each other in class. 

Believing: What we believe as Jews is a tapestry of traditional ideas, lived experiences and personal convictions. What do we put our faith 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...should you so choose.

Let’s get started! 

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions





Risa Aqua, Mitzvah Maven

Risa is the main teacher of My Mitzvah. She has been teaching Hebrew for over 30 years, preparing children for B’nai Mitzvah for the past 17, 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, Mitzvah Maven

Hal Aqua has been B'nai Havurah's Music Director for 17 years. Hal has provided musical leadership for hundreds of 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.





Sarah Kaplan Gould, Teacher

Sarah Kaplan Gould is an educator, writer, and community ritual leader who has been teaching with B'nai Havurah's My Mitzvah program since 2022. They have over a decade of experience teaching and tutoring students of all ages, and have spent the last several years involved in leading and supporting community-led Jewish ritual spaces in New York and Denver. They also grew up at B'nai Havurah, and were b. mitzvah'ed in the B'nai Sanctuary in 2004. 

Thu, July 25 2024 19 Tammuz 5784