Nitzanim: Adventures in Jewish Learning for Kids & Families
The Ner Shalom Nitzanim program 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 gathers twice monthly this fall and monthly in the spring (twice monthly for grades 5-8) 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.
The more your child attends Nitzanim, the more engaged they will be, the more they will learn, and the more they will develop a community of peers. (You too, by the way.) We have several ways to enroll in Nitzanim.
Season Subscription. The cost of participation in the program is $450 for a Season Subscription (12 events) for a family with one K-8 child. Each additional K-8 child is $225. If you would like this option but need to pay in installments, email us.
Nitzanim Six-Pack. Or you may purchase admission to 6 Nitzanim sessions. The cost is $250 for a family with one K-8 child. Each additional K-8 child is $125. If you would like this option but need to pay in installments, email us.
Drop In. Or if you wish to just drop in from time to time, the cost is $45 per session for families with one K-8 child. Each additional K-8 child is $22.50. (Some sessions are open to parents and pre-K siblings; some are for students only.)
Scholarships. The prices above are very inexpensive for Jewish educational experience and do not cover the actual costs of creating and holding this program. That said, your participation is more important than how much you pay. So if these prices would keep you from participating, choose the “Sliding Scale Ticket” on the registration and do what you can!
It Takes a Village
Many community members have stepped forward to volunteer some time to help hold the Nitzanim Program. We invite parent participation as well. We will always need some logistical help. But perhaps you also have a skill or a story you can share with our students! We want to hear from you. Just click here.
Faculty for Nitzanim will, in part, vary from session to session. You will often see Susie Stonefield Miller offering music and art. You will sometimes see veteran teachers Reb Judith Goleman and Fanny Stein. We will have a rotating group of teen guides. And, consistently, your Program Directors are Janet Rae Jorgensen and Reb Irwin Keller:
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, a longtime Jewish educator, and a former director of J School.
We are very excited that beginning in January, Nitzanim will be partnering with Wilderness Torah Center for Earth-Based Judaism to bring a truly innovative new dimension of Jewish learning to our young people K-5. The Nitzanim Program will slow to once monthly to accommodate our young people’s participation in Wilderness Torah’s B’Hootz Program. Our Grades 5-8 cohort will continue meeting twice monthly.
B’Hootz is offered to the public for the price of $800 per student. However, as a feature of our collaboration, Nitzanim families who register for the Season Subscription or the Six-Pack will be eligible for 25% discount. In addition, Wilderness Torah currently has steep scholarships available for Nitzanim families for whom $600 is prohibitive.
|Date||Activity & Theme|
|Saturday, August 17||Nitzanim Back-to-School Gathering – At Ner Shalom.
Theme: Torah Lishmah. “I Am My Own Torah.”
|Saturday, September 7||Shabbat Morning Hike & Preparation for High Holy Days – At Crane Creek Park.
Theme: Hineini. “Who am I?”
|Monday, September 30||Rosh Hashanah.
Theme: B’er Mayim. “What is the water in my well?"
”In this special Rosh Hashanah session, we will explore the story of Hagar in the wilderness, giving up hope. But then opening her eyes to discover a well of water she had not noticed! We all have stuff in us we forget about! How do we discover the richness in ourselves and share it with the world?
All families are invited to the Ner Shalom Family Service at 9:30am. Nitzanim-enrolled young people K-8 will continue from 10:30-11:45 with Janet Rae, Susie and Reb Judith Goleman, while their parents can stay at the primary service. Click here to register.
|Wednesday, October 9||Yom Kippur
Theme: Uvacharta Bachayim. “How do I Live this Life?"
In this session, we will explore the special Yom Kippur Torah portion called Nitzavim (not Nitzanim!) in which we are told to "choose life". How is choosing life different from just plain old living?
All families are invited to the Ner Shalom Family Service at 9:30am. Nitzanim-enrolled young people K-8 will continue from 10:30-11:45 with Janet Rae and Susie, while their parents can stay at the primary service. Click here to register.
|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.