Nitzanim: Adventures in Jewish Learning for Kids & Families


(Nitzanim means “buds” or “blossoms”.)

The Ner Shalom Nitzanim program – a new offshoot of our Saplings program, and Ner Shalom’s successor to J School* – is a rich and exciting offering for young people, K-8, and their families. It is an opportunity to deepen in Jewish experience and learning through song, prayer, nature, art, story, movement, text and discussion. Through the Nitzanim program, we will nourish our young people so they can blossom and draw sustenance from Judaism’s deep, deep roots.

Nitzanim will gather twice monthly in the fall to have shared adventures and to engage Judaism in both traditional and non-traditional ways. Each session will involve age-appropriate adventures in small groups. Some will also include separate adventures for parents – learning more about how to invite a more Jewish feel in your home, or exploring how to navigate the intricacies of being an interfaith family.

In the spring we will partner with Wilderness Torah’s B’Hootz program, using the experience of nature to learn Jewish values and holidays. We will also continue to hold several Nitzanim-only events and field trips, culminating in a camping trip in May.

We welcome your ideas, input and time. (For instance, do you have a skill or a story you can share with our students or our parent community?) Just click here.

Watch this spot for details, registration, and tuition information.

Program Directors: Reb Irwin Keller and Janet Rae Jorgensen

Janet Rae Jorgensen, MA, is adjunct faculty of the Child Development department of Santa Rosa Junior College. She was a founding teacher at Kol Shofar in Tiburon; co-organizer of Ner Shalom’s Saplings Program and, in 2017, director of Camp Kuku-riku.

Reb Irwin Keller is Ner Shalom’s spiritual leader since 2008, and a former director of J School.

Fall Calendar:

Date Activity & Theme
Saturday, August 17 Nitzanim Back-to-School Gathering – At Ner Shalom.
Theme: Torah Lishmah. “I Am My Own Torah.”
At 10 AM. This event is free. Click here to register.
Saturday, September 7 Shabbat Morning Hike & Preparation for High Holy Days – At Crane Creek Park.
Theme: Hineini. “Who am I?”
At 10 AM.
Monday, September 30 Rosh Hashanah. Experiential Torah Study following Ner Shalom family services. Begins at Ner Shalom.
Theme: B’er Mayim. “What is the water in my well?”
Wednesday, October 9 Yom Kippur. Experiential Torah Study, following Ner Shalom family services. Begins at Ner Shalom.
Theme: Uvacharta Bachayim. “How do I Live this Life?"
Sunday, October 20 In the Sukkah – At Ner Shalom.
Theme: Netilat Lulav. “Activating the Holy”.
At 10 AM.
Saturday, November 9 Shabbat Morning Hike – Location TBA.
Theme: Tzelem Elohim. “Seeing God.”
At 10 AM.
Friday, November 22 Rockin’ Shabbat with the Ner Shalom Good Shabbos Band.
Theme: Shalom Aleichem. “Calling All Angels.”
At 6 PM.
Saturday, December 7 Saturday Afternoon Experience, leading to Havdalah – Location TBA.
Theme: Neshamah Y’terah. “What is my second soul?”
At 4 PM.
Sunday, December 22 Deep Chanukah learning, leading into the Ner Shalom Chanukah Party – At Ner Shalom.
Theme: Ner Adonai. “I am the light.”
At 4:30 PM.

* Where is J School? After 7 years of collaboration, both Congregation Ner Shalom and B’nai Israel Jewish Center were ready to relaunch our synagogue-specific educational programs, each with its own flavor. Ner Shalom Nitzanim program welcomes Ner Shalom member families and unaffiliated families interested in dipping their toes into these waters.