Kol Hai Forest Hebrew School facilitates village-building, nature-based learning, and soul-centric rites of passage for youth in our community. Through explorations of Judaism, spirituality, and nature connection, our programs plant seeds of purpose and interconnection that our young ones can draw upon and continue to develop for the rest of their lives. 

Dates: November 3 - June 16
Location: Stone Mountain Farm, New Paltz, NY

Journeys Program (ages 5-8) Thursdays, 4-5 pm, weekly, with days off for school holidays and rain/snow days. Approximately 28 classes total. $850.
Passages Program (ages 9-12) Tuesdays 4-5:30 pm, weekly, with days off for school holidays and rain/snow days. Approximately 28 classes total. $1175.

Some extended evenings for holidays and special occasions will also be planned.

Discounts are available for families with multiple children and for lower-income families. To register after the eight-month session begins, or to request alternate payment options, please contact [email protected]

Registration is currently closed.

  1. Registration Form
  2. Pay Tuition Fees here

Our Program

Journeys Program (Ages 5-8)

This program is geared towards sparking the imagination, utilizing play-based games, exercises, and theatrical explorations to introduce concepts such as:

  • Wilderness survival and leadership skills 
  • Hebrew letters and vocabulary
  • Torah stories & holidays 
  • Jewish History
  • Core principles, ethics, and values of Judaism
  • Prayers and rituals – traditional and non-traditional
  • Mindfulness, hitbodedut/self-awareness, meditation
  • Food systems, farming, cooking
  • Bird-language, fire-building, shelter-building, and more.

Passages (Pre-Mitzvah) Program (Ages 9-12)

Passages is a program for pre-teens ages 9 to 12. Our classes will teach the above topics, with more depth and breadth, emphasizing developing clear roles in our community or "village." Our curriculum will include the foundational learning that prepares a child for a B'nai Mitzvah ritual, including Hebrew reading, though those students having a B'nai Mitzvah ceremony may wish to obtain private tutoring to prepare individually.

Each of our Passages participants will experience a “Rite of Passage.” This will take place in the child's final year of the program and will involve a significant challenge according to each child’s ability - in most cases, a solo fire-tending experience. In preparation for this, we draw upon mentorship and character-building practices from many toolboxes and cultures, aimed at the development of empathy, responsibility, creativity, self-reliance, leadership, and a sense of spiritual connection. There will be opportunities for parents to participate in some of our classes, and to have their own "passages," as well as sharing circles with other parents to discuss the passages their children are experiencing. 

This program will involve the mentorship of community members and teens, as well as the participation of our clergy. 

Our Educators 

Arielle Aronoff is the former Director of Teva, the outdoor education program of Hazon at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. A graduate of Kibbutz Lotan's Green Apprenticeship Program, Arielle brings knowledge of the intersections of Judaism and ecology in education and seeks to create a learning environment in which children's natural inclination for play, exploration, and curiosity can be engaged while they develop a meaningful relationship to Jewish tradition and the land. 

 

Jamie Fleishman grew up a part of the synagogue co-founded by his great-grandfather, Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie. He left the area for Brandeis, where ironically he was not involved in the Jewish community. Totally unexpectedly, he found a deep sense of community in Beijing, China, where he studied abroad and later worked. He found a Jewish home (in all senses of the word) living for three years at the Beijing Moishe House, which served as a cultural, spiritual, and community hub for Beijing’s vibrant young professional Jewish community. 

After stints at a Jewish international aid organization and an MSW program, Jamie returned to the Hudson Valley right before the pandemic to reconnect with his roots — the roots of his childhood, spirituality/religion, family, and the roots of our plant, flower, and tree relatives. Jamie is excited to join the Forest School and to learn alongside students getting to know all those types of roots. He’s particularly interested in how students approaching B’nai Mitzvah will engage in rituals and practices that support connection with Spirit and healthy individual/communal/planetary growth. 

Safety

Our programs are outdoors and involve socially distanced and/or masked activities centered around the campfire. In extreme weather, we may seek indoor, well-ventilated options, or we may cancel class. We have accounted for some holiday and weather days off. Outdoor activities will be cold-weather appropriate. We will have outdoor bathrooms accessible to us, but please have your children use the bathroom before class.