WRJ/Chai Mitzvah FAQs

What is the relationship between WRJ and Chai Mitzvah?

WRJ and Chai Mitzvah are excited about this new partnership. Both organizations recognize the importance of engaging adults in a full and meaningful Jewish life. We also recognize the awesome power of women. It’s a perfect match! Chai Mitzvah facilitates groups in numerous congregations and communities around the world. Those who sign up with a WRJ-affiliated sisterhood will be eligible to receive special discounts, webinars, and additional supplemental materials relevant to WRJ members. 
 

What is Chai Mitzvah?

Chai Mitzvah is a nine-month journey for adults to explore and expand their Jewish life through study, spirituality, and social action. 
 

Why is it called Chai Mitzvah?

Like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a Chai Mitzvah is a moment in time when you can reflect on where you are in your adult Jewish life, and how to grow and expand your Jewish connections in ways that are meaningful and important to you. 
 

How can Chai Mitzvah benefit your sisterhood?

Chai Mitzvah is an engagement tool which gets more people involved, as it builds community. The program provides a framework that encourages people to take part in what the congregation and sisterhood are already offering. It can be used as an outreach or an inreach tool, to introduce women to the sisterhood, or to engage current members more deeply.
 

How does the Chai Mitzvah Program work?

Chai Mitzvah is a nine-month long adult engagement initiative that combines Torah (learning), Avodah (ritual and spiritual practice) and G’milut hasadim (righteous action). Currently, there are nine set educational modules of Jewish study to be discussed in small groups in monthly learning sessions of about one-and-a-half hours/each. Each participant also makes a commitment to doing at least one thing to deepen their Jewish ritual or spiritual practice, at least one social action engagement over the course of the year, and explores an area of independent study that holds meaning and interest for the participant. The hundreds of groups that participate use the curriculum in the same monthly order (though they can ‘jump in’ at any point) so the Chai Mitzvah team is able to provide supplemental material to all the facilitators around the same topic in a given month. The groups can be led by lay-leaders, with the support of the Chai Mitzvah educators, or by rabbis/educators, paid or unpaid, from the local community. The decisions about meeting dates/times, facilitators, etc. are all made by the local group itself.  

Sample materials of some of the core curriculum are available online. Currently the topics are:

Topic 1: Adult Rites of Passage (October) (View sample WRJ overlay.)
Topic 2: Philanthropy/Tzedakah (November)
Topic 3: Individual and Community (December)
Topic 4: Interpersonal Relationships (January)
Topic 5: Mindfulness/Conscious Living (February
Topic 6: Adding New Insights and Meaning to the Passover Seder (March)
Topic 7: Israel and the Jewish Spirit (April)
Topic 8: Gratitude/Modim Anachnu Lach (May)
Topic 9: Judaism and the Environment (June)
 

Why does Chai Mitzvah have individual components? Why not just a class?

Chai Mitzvah believes that a full, meaningful Jewish life incorporates not just study, but spirituality and social action. Our tradition teaches us: “Al Shlosha Dvarim Ha-olam Omed. Al Hatorah, v’al ha-avodah, v’al gimilut chasadim,” On three things the world stands; on Torah (study), Avodah (spiritual practice), and Gimilut chasadim (acts of kindness). In taking a Chai Mitzvah journey, you will re-engage with each of these areas of Jewish life.
 

Why is Chai Mitzvah so nine months long? Why not just study every week?

When you add new things into your life, it takes a while to “live” with them; that is, really getting comfortable with these new study, spiritual, and social action explorations, trying them on, and seeing how they impact you takes time. Currently, Chai Mitzvah is a nine-month program because it’s designed to recharge your Jewish batteries. After you finish your Chai Mitzvah journey, you are reengaged, reinvigorated, redefined in your meaningful Jewish life, and we encourage you then to go out and live it!
 

I have very little background in Jewish living. Will Chai Mitzvah be over my head? Or, I’ve done a lot of Jewish study. Will Chai Mitzvah be too easy for me?

No matter what your experience or style of Jewish practice is, Chai Mitzvah is relevant and accessible. Chai Mitzvah participants range from rabbis and Jewish professionals to those brand new to our community. The beauty of Chai Mitzvah is that the individual choices you make will meet you exactly where you are, and guide you a little further along on your Jewish journey, at your own pace and with your own interests. The curriculum design for the monthly group sessions is accessible for anyone, and we welcome the sharing of supplemental resources. There is always English translation for the texts, and the topics are relevant and meaningful. Each of us is on a Jewish journey.
 

What does Chai Mitzvah cost?

The Chai Mitzvah team provides all the materials, facilitator training/support, supplemental materials, PR materials, etc. There is a nominal fee for joining the program and having access to the facilitator’s resources and support ($72 annually per group), and $25 per person for all of the individual educational packets for the entire year. Typically the group coordinator orders all the individual materials for the group at once to be delivered in bulk to a single address. If one organization has multiple groups, there is only one annual fee. For example, if a congregation is a Chai Mitzvah participant, and then the sisterhood decides to have a Chai Mitzvah group, there would only be a single $72 annual fee for all of those groups. Some groups may charge more for participation if they want to include the cost of snacks, facilitator fees, or other expenses.
 

Are there any other Chai Mitzvah requirements?

Chai Mitzvah is easy to implement. The program can be found throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel. In order to best support the various participating groups, we ask that each group follows the topic designated for that particular month, keeping us all on the same page throughout the program’s duration. Because we believe everyone has their own “Jewish bucket list,” we strongly encourage each participant to choose individual commitments in study, spirituality, and social action. 
 

What do I have to do to get a group started?

Chai Mitzvah is easily implemented, and very affordable. All you need is a group of people who want to embark on their own Jewish journeys in a group setting, but with room for individual goals. We suggest a group of about 10-12 people. Someone in the group should be designated as a Chai Mitzvah liaison. (This may or may not be the group facilitator.) Then, register your group on the Chai Mitzvah website. Groups can register as part of WRJ, their congregation or independently (like a book group). Each member of the group also registers online as an individual participant (there is no cost to the individual registration). Packets are typically ordered and paid for all at once, at the time the group is registered by the coordinator. Once registered, you’re on your way! A member of the Chai Mitzvah staff will contact you with everything you need for a successful launch.
 

Who leads the Chai Mitzvah groups?

The Chai Mitzvah materials are designed for either professional or lay facilitators. Your group may have clergy or other professional staff available to lead the monthly sessions. Some groups may designate a lay leader or alternate leaders from within the group each month. Each topic source book comes with a facilitator guide, and Chai Mitzvah hosts a monthly training session for the upcoming topic. The Chai Mitzvah staff is always available as a resource for group facilitation. 
 

What does the Chai Mitzvah team offer us for support?

The Chai Mitzvah team is your support right from the start. Once your group registers, we provide you with materials such as brochures, sample language, logos, edit-ready flyers, and more. We will also work with you throughout the year, providing webinars and individual resources as needed. For WRJ-affiliated groups, Chai Mitzvah will provide additional materials and learning opportunities specifically designed for WRJ affiliates.
 

What happens after I complete the program?

We hope that, as a result of your year of learning and engagement, you will continue learning about what interests you, continue bringing spirituality into your life, and continue giving back to your community. Sometime in the future, we would encourage you to become a Chai Mitzvah again, and re-explore your engagement at that point in your life.
 

If you have additional questions, please contact WRJ Manager of Programs & Affiliate Services Heather Lorgeree at hlorgeree@wrj.org or 212.650.4063.