Anafim At Makom Community

Why BMitzvah and What is Anafim?

Our program is egalitarian and gender-inclusive. To support students of all genders, we use the title BMitzvah to refer to our students and this important milestone! Our program is called Anafim (branches) to highlight the way our middle school students are branching out and pursuing their own Jewish learning interests further through this special experience at Makom.

Curriculum Goals

Our Anafim curriculum has a few key goals:

  • Building Leadership: Students learn leadership skills through study and real-life experience.
  • Building Self-Awareness: Anafim students are in a time of transition. We work on developing self-awareness and growing our empathy for others.
  • Supporting Diversity: We welcome the diversity of our students’ backgrounds, opinions, and interests into our discussions and curriculum. We work with families to make sure kids are decoding Hebrew before beginning in Anafim.
  • Family Engagement: Our families meet several times a year to learn together, and parents are invited to engage with the BMitzvah process at all stages of the journey.
  • Cohort-Based Learning: Each Anafim cohort becomes a tight-knit group of young adults. They support each others’ learning, collaborate on projects, and create a learning community.

Cohort-Based Learning

Anafim at Makom Community is about coming into teenage years with a strong social and communal connection, through the journey of Jewish Education. Our pre-teens are together at least two days a week. We are frequently moved by the ways they show up for and support one another through their learning and the bumps of being tweenagers. Whether it is working on projects in pairs or small groups or supporting each other’s Tefilah mastery, the role our learners play in facilitating their own learning really grows in this age range.

Celebrating BMitzvah

In Anafim at Makom Community, students lead their own journey to becoming BMitzvah (children of the commandments). BMitzvah is a transition over years to adolescence, not a single moment. In that spirit, our BMitzvah program prepares students for lifelong engagement with Judaism through leading deep text discussions, developing individual study habits, and following their own passions through the Jewish world. Each BMitzvah ceremony is as unique as the child creating it. A BMitvah celebration with Makom Community can look like a Saturday morning service, or an art gallery where you teach about the art you created and what inspired you, or anything else you work with us to invent!

Text Study

Our learning begins with deep text study on a story within TaNaKh (the Hebrew Bible). We start with an opening activity to anchor the big ideas in the text in our lived experience. Then we engage in both discussion and activities that delve into the questions we take from the text. This helps us understand how we can apply this bit of Jewish wisdom to our lives.

Tefilah Workshop

During Tefilah Workshop, each cohort member works to master tefillot (prayers) from the Shabbat morning service and the Torah service. Mastery of a Tefilah requires the student to:

  • Read the Tefilah fluently
  • Sing or chant to lead the Tefilah
  • Understand at least one key shoresh (root word) within the Tefilah
  • Have a lively discussion with their teacher about the meaning of the Tefilah including asking 3 juicy questions
  • Create a summary of the Tefilah
  • Spot check 3 words in the Tefilah

Students work individually or in self-selected groups with frequent check-ins with their teacher. In the second year of the program, students begin to study Torah and practice leyning (chanting Torah and Haftarah) in a Torah service.

Tefilah – Prayer Services 

Our daily Tefilah is a varying selection from Shabbat morning services. We include Torah service at least one day a week and vary the rest of the prayers so our learners are prepared to work on Mastery and jump into a service at synagogues across the denominational spectrum. Our learners bring their big questions about the siddur (prayer book), theology, and Jewish ritual to Tefilah, too.

Rosh Pinah – Capstone Projects

These projects are the most unique part of our BMitzvah program, encouraging the cohort to delve into Jewish history, culture, art, science, philosophy, ritual, ethics, cooking, and any other aspect of Jewish life they might be curious about. Each project begins with a teacher-led crash course, giving the cohort the basic information they need to research on their own. The students then choose something within that topic, creating individual or partnered projects. Each project is presented to the community and reflected upon within the cohort. In preparing for the BMitzvah ceremony, each student creates a final, individual Rosh Pinah project on the topic of their choice.