"Awe rather than faith is the cardinal
attitude of the religious Jew."
- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Adventure Judaism offers a
new style of congregational community,
a cutting-edge model of synagogue-life appropriate for 21st century Judaism. Gone are the days when
Jews felt obligated to belong to a synagogue. Today, 70%
of American Jews do not belong to a congregation.
In fact, many
Jews today don't feel obliged by Judaism at all. Judaism
has become a choice and if the religion does not enhance and enrich
our lives, if Judaism is not relevant, meaningful and accessible,
many of us opt out completely.
In 2001, Rabbi Jamie Korngold, launched the Adventure Rabbi program with the goal of putting meaning back into Judaism. Her vision grew into what today is called Adventure Judaism, reaching people all over the world. Why? Because we met people where
they are (often literally hiking or skiing) and show them how Judaism
can enhance their lives, without having to give up their weekends
or making big pledges. Through
our activities and community, adults and kids come to love Judaism.
We teach age
old Jewish concepts like taking some time off each week and stop
trying to be perfect, but we teach them in a modern context.
We climb mountains, go skiing, play the guitar and sing
around a campfire. We have thoughtful discussions and debates based
on a scientific and rational view of the world. (We have lots of
physicists and rocket scientists in our congregation.)
We don't simply
teach Bar and Bat Mitzvah students Hebrew; we teach them the relationship
skills, based on Jewish teachings, that they need to become responsible
and happy teenagers. We present Judaism in a way that fits
into modern American life.
Programs are in sync with what Jews In America seek
Although we offer membership, even that is unconventional. Why should a family of 5 pay the same dues as a family of 1? in our congregation, you build a membership that reflects your family. And as a popular alternative, we offer pay as you go fee for services. Gone are the days when
Jews would willingly pay 3% of their income for synagogue dues even
when they only attended High Holiday services. Today's Jews
ask, "What am I getting for my money?" and only wish to
pay for what they use.
At Adventure Judaism, you become part of our community just by
We do not offer weekly Shabbat Services. Our constituency
doesn't want to go to weekly services. (Do you? Lots of synagogues
offer them so we can recommend one to you.)
people are busy with full lives and on weekends we ski,
hike, party, hang out, go dancing and relax. When the weekend arrives,
we don't want to get dressed up to come to synagogue to count pages
and have the rabbi preach at us and tell us how we should be more
Also, we have found that when an event is offered weekly, potential
participants tend to say, "Oh I'll just go next week,"
and never actually go. Monthly events increase and concentrate attendance.
we offer one Friday night a month in the summer months, which has become a beloved Boulder classic event. Our services are brief and joyful. (We have no interest in
long, boring, sad services.)
Involvement & Power to Create:
Many of of our most popular programs were created at the
suggestion of our participants. For example, Passover in Moab was
dreamed up by Kara and Steve Mertz.
large synagogues, with institutional traditions, chains of commands
and committee charts, we are a nimble and flexible program. We have
few committees and fewer meetings. New program ideas, or at least
ones that can support themselves financially, can easily and quickly
be brought to fruition.
We do not believe that prayer changes the will of a divine
being. Therefore, we feel liberated to expand and contract our liturgical
choices to create a service that is meaningful. We do believe that
communal prayers offers an opportunity to connect with others in
our community, our families and the Jewish people all over the world
as well as to look within ourselves.
of the Program:
If you really want the inside scoop on how this program was started,
read the forward of Rabbi Korngold's book God in the Wilderness:
Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure
Rabbi. (Doubleday, 2008)
But the official
pitch goes like this. Adventure Rabbi Program was envisioned by
Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold, who has experienced her most vibrant Jewish
experiences in the outdoors. From scaling mountains to running ultra-marathons,
she has found that the spirituality of the wilderness awakens Judaism.
the raw wonder of creation, Rabbi Korngold helps people experience
an inner peace and an abiding connection to That Which is Greater
Than Ourselves. In the wilderness, she believes, it is possible
to distance ourselves from politics and protocol and allow the awareness
of the connectedness of all things to permeate our souls.
Come join us;
let the wilderness awaken your Judaism.
Adventure Rabbi Headquarters is located in Boulder Colorado and
is managed by Rabbi Jamie Korngold. We have a large office building
in which we teach classes, lead smaller services, and hold meetings
and conferences. For larger services we rent space. Our religious school meets in the local elementary school.
Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold serves as the spiritual leader of the Adventure
Rabbi Program. Rabbi Korngold received her ordination from Hebrew
Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, the academic, spiritual
and professional development center for Reform Judaism. Her undergraduate degree (B.S. Forestry) is from Cornell University, Ithaca NY.
The Adventure Rabbi Program is philosophically and theologically
aligned with Progressive Judaism in general and the Reform Movement
more specifically are dedicated to creating opportunities to
enhance our participants relationship with self, community and Judaism.
We provide a Jewish backdrop and context for their lives and through
positive, communal Jewish experiences improve our participants sense
of Jewish identity
Our rabbis are
ordained by the Reform Movement’s seminaries, and are expected
to teach and preach in ways that are consistent with the mores of
As liberal Jews,
we look to our tradition to provide wisdom, insight and guidance.
We then couple our ancient teachings with modern interpretations,
in order to find appropriate forms of contemporary religious expression.
We are committed
to equality of women in all forms of practice and worship, inclusion
of people of all sexual orientations, and outreach to interfaith
families and couples.
Adventure Judaism offers life-cycle
events for all stages of Jewish life. Since we do not have a chapel,
these events are held in private homes, rented facilities, or wilderness
Milah and Brit Bat are the beginning of life ceremonies in which
the Jewish infant is entered into the covenant with God. The parents
commit themselves to raise their child with 1) the study of Torah,
2) the practice of mitzvot (Jewish ritual/ethics) and 3) to prepare
their child to have a Jewish home of his or her own someday.
Mitzvah: Rabbis from Adventure Judaism officiate at
Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies for candidates who have completed the
requirements of our B’nai Mitzvah program. We`have also created
a Bar and Bat Yisrael program for students who wish to focus less
on Hebrew and more on "mensch" training.
Rabbis from Adventure Judaism officiate at weddings in
all sorts of venues including synagogues, back-yards, hotels, homes,
parks, and mountain tops.
Rabbis from Adventure Judaism officiate at funerals
Adventure Judaism specializes in experiential teaching
of eco Judaism as well as Jewish ritual, practice and theology.
Our outdoor programs are infused with teaching moments. From the
Rabbi’s sermons on the Torah portion of the week, to discussions
of contemporary theologians such as Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua
Heschel, every event is filled with learning opportunities.
is an expert in the field of Rabbinic texts dealing with Jewish
attitudes about nature, and teaches from Talmud, Midrash and other
sacred texts. Rabbi Korngold also has a strong background in Jewish
ethics and frequently teaches on the subject of Jewish ethics for
every day living.
and Teen’s Programs
Adventure Rabbi Kids, our alternative religious school for kids in grades 1-6,is very camp like. Filled with activities, crafts, songs and games we make learning fun.
We also run engaging fun-filled teen program in Boulder Colorado, as well as opportunities for teens to intern in our religious school.
Rabbi Jamie Korngold: Founder and Senior
Rabbi Korngold is an ordained Reform Rabbi and the founder of the Adventure Rabbi Program. She is nationally recognized for her innovative work combining
religion and nature..
Rabbi Jamie Korngold is the author of 11 books including God in the Wilderness (Doubleday
2008),The God Upgrade: Finding
Your 21st-Century Spirituality in Judaism’s 5,000-Year-Old
Tradition (Jewish Lights, April 2011), which was named one
of the ten best religions books of the year by Publisher's Weekly,
and the Sadie series (Kar-Ben.)
A favorite of the media, she has been featured by Good Morning America, USA
Today, CBS, CNN, NPR, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Ski
as well as many other outlets.
Rabbi Korngold is an athlete and a scholar. She completed the Leadville
Trail 100, a hundred-mile running race, in less than thirty hours and
was ranked fourth in the nation for telemark mogul skiing. She is
a graduate of Cornell University’s Natural Resources program
and received her masters and ordination from Hebrew Union College.
Her eclectic path includes such adventures as working as a street musician in Japan, a taxi driver in Alaska and a cook on board a boat in Alaska helping with the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup.
Rabbi Korngold is best known for her ability to make Judaism relevant,
meaningful, and accessible and therefore opening the doors back
to Judaism for thousands of disenfranchised Jews. Through her nature-based
approach to religion, she is able to bridge the gap between scientific
thought and religion, healing a fissure that often disrupts spiritual
She lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her two daughters Sadie and Ori.
Elaine Barenblat, Director of Educator:
Elaine is our full-time Adventure Educator, and the Director Education.
Elaine is adored by our students because she makes learning fun and genuinely cares about their experience. Her enthusiasm for Jewish learning has brought an extra spark to ARK.
In addition to ARK, Elaine tutors many of our students in Hebrew and additional Jewish studies, runs our teen program, mentors our interns and runs our 20s/30s program.
Elaine is a native of San Antonio, Texas, but has always had her heart in Colorado's mountains. She received her Interdisciplinary Studies degree from the University of North Texas with a focus in early childhood and special education.
Evon Yakar, Events in Lake Tahoe CA:
Rabbi Yakar runs our branch location in partnership with Temple
Bat Yam, in Lake Tahoe, CA.
If you have read Rabbi Korngold's first book, God
in the Wilderness, you "met" Rabbi Evon in print.
He was on a Adventure Rabbi guide training course and one of his
witty comments made it into the manuscript.
Rabbi Evon J. Yakar grew up throughout the northern Midwest attending
high school in the suburbs of Detroit and he lived in Minneapolis
and Chicago before high school. Many of his summers were spent at
Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin,
a Union for Reform Judaism summer camp. OSRUI is a special place
for many reasons, but high on the list is that it is the place where
he met his wife Rachel. Evon earned a BS from the University of
Wisconsin at Madison in 2001 where he studied Hebrew and Biological
Aspects of Conservation.
He was ordained as a Rabbi in June 2007 from Hebrew Union College
- Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he also
earned his Master of Hebrew Letters degree. Rabbi Evon received
awards for the highest academic standing in his class. During his
time in Cincinnati, Evon studied in a joint program between HUC-JIR
and Xavier University to earn a Masters in Educational Administration.
He is passionate about sharing Judaism with his students and loves
the opportunity to personalize the program according to the interests
of each of his students.
Rabbi Evon teaches in the AR Distance Learning program and
teaches students via Skype all over the world. His works with Bar
Mitzvah students, Bat Mitzvah students, Adult Bar Mitzvah students,
Adult Bat Mitzvah students, Conversion students and private advanced
studies students. Currently, rabbi Evon only accepts students who will come to Lake Tahoe for their ceremony.
Rabbi Evon lives in Lake Tahoe, California with his wife Rachel and sons Caleb and Jonah
Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith, Wedding Specialist, Boulder CO:
Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith moved to Colorado from Alabama. She is thrilled to be in Colorado. Recently retired from ten years service as a pulpit rabbi, there were some aspects of the rabbinate she wanted to continue. One of those is working with couples as they prepare their wedding. "What a joy," she explains, "To partner with couples beginning a lifetime together to create a meaningful wedding celebration."
Rabbi Goldsmith served Temple Emanu-el in Dothan, AL as solo rabbi from her ordination at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati in June of 2007 until her retirement in June of 2017. Lynne believes passionately in Jewish education for all ages. She was also active in the community, especially in inter-faith relations. She served on the boards of the local women's shelter, the board of Catholic social services, and on the Ecumenical Council, a multi-faith organization dedicated to erasing poverty in the Dothan area.
Rabbi Goldsmith is married to Rob Goldsmith, and they live in Broomfield, CO. She is looking forward to getting involved in the Boulder Jewish community and spending time with her granddaughter and son and daughter in law who also live in Colorado.
David Spiegler, Educator, Arvada, CO:
David is a Psychologist with a doctorate in child and adolescent psychology, and a love of Judaism nourished over many years. Raised in an Orthodox home as a child, a Conservative synagogue through adolescence, and Reform congregations as an adult, he has always been a leader in his community, serving as President, chair of numerous committees, lay cantor for services and holidays, and as a long time teacher in various religious school settings, covering 3rd grade through Confirmation. Currently, he teaches 6th grade Hebrew, and prepares students for B’nei Mitzvah at his home congregation in the Denver, Colorado area.
Janiece Gratch, Educator, Oklahoma City, OK:
Janiece Gratch lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and works with students all over the world via Skype. She knows how to connect!
Janiece has worked in the field of Jewish education for the last twenty-five years. Janiece received her Masters of Science in Jewish Education from Spertus College of Jewish Studies in Chicago. She has worked with students of all ages, from toddlers to college students, but loves middle schoolers most of all.
She began her career as the Judaic Studies teacher, and later became the director of Solomon Schechter Academy in Oklahoma City. Janiece became the Hebrew School Director of Temple B’nai Israel in 2002 and retired in May of 2017. While at Temple B’nai Israel, Janiece worked as the B’nai Mitzvah Tutor.
She received her Bachelors of Science in Zoology from Oklahoma State University. She has a great love of the outdoors and is an avid birdwatcher.
Guides and Administrative Staff:
Jeff Finkelstein brings to the
trail years of experience working in the Jewish camping world. He
is proud to be product of the Reform Movement's youth group system.
Jeff adds to his Jewish knowledge his skills as a back country guide,
ski patroller and mountaineer.
Jeff has been with the Adventure Rabbi Program since our inception
in Nov 2001 and launched our first website in Feb 2002. Jeff's talent
and skills in web development allow Adventure Rabbi members to have
an unprecedented level of accessibility to our group and an extremely
interactive relationship with our staff. Our easy to use site serves
as a model for other religious institutions.
Terri VonLoh is in charge of the financial transactions
and bookkeeping for the Adventure Judaism.
Paula Martin is a volunteer who serves as an assistant to Rabbi Jamie Korngold. Seeing the need in the congregation, she stepped up and offered to help. She assists Rabbi Jamie in logistical and organizational aspects of the congregation. Paula has become an indispensable part of our team.