In Hebrew, the word BaMidbar is translated as “in the wilderness,” or “in the desert,” but the word itself comes from the Hebrew root דבר, which means, “to speak”. The Zohar, an ancient Jewish text, tells us that while we were in Egypt, the Jewish people lost our ability to tell our own stories (Zohar Va’era, 2:25b). During that time, we were not only physical slaves, but slaves to another person’s narrative. When we left Egypt, we spent forty years in the midbar – the wilderness – and it was there that we regained our ability to speak. We found our voice, began to establish our national identity, and started to write a new narrative as an independent people.
At BaMidbar, the wilderness continues to hold opportunities for growth and self-discovery. We combine the guidance, support, and strength inherent in Jewish tradition, with a clinically sophisticated, evidence-based model. By doing so, BaMidbar encourages students to redefine how they view themselves, reevaluate their capabilities, and rediscover their vision for a brighter tomorrow. In short, BaMidbar provides the framework for Jewish youth and young adults to find their voice, and write their own narrative.
Our Guiding Principles
Adventure-based experiences are used as a vehicle for growth, and students apply learning in a safe, experiential environment.
Mental health professionals design programming, and trained guides facilitate experiences with an eye toward social and emotional growth.
Jewish tradition, metaphor, and storytelling are used to support students in exploring meaning, values, purpose, and identity.
Programs work to increase open dialogue and decrease stigma around mental health in the broader Jewish community.
While BaMidbar runs a variety of both therapeutic and personal growth oriented programs, all of our programs are guided by a common philosophy.
Students engage in intentional conversation around complex emotion and develop the language to effectively communicate how they feel. By better understanding the connection between their emotional states and the functioning of their nervous system, students are empowered to recognize and articulate their emotional and behavioral patterns.
In a small group environment, cohorts build quick camaraderie around their shared experience. Living and working alongside students, staff foster authentic, trusting relationships that allow students to feel safe and supported, so that they can take appropriate risks and push themselves past their comfort zone.
The intentional use of adventure, play, and the outdoors keeps students present and minimizes outside distractions. Activities are designed to help students build relationships, create metaphors by mirroring real-life experiences, and hone transferable skills that they will carry back into their day to day lives.
Students develop a deeper awareness of both body and mind through mindfulness practices. By focusing on thought patterns and bodily sensations (somatic awareness), students are able to recognize shifts in their emotions and engage in proactive coping strategies.
Students learn, practice, and implement concrete tools to increase their ability to self-regulate. They rely on both “top-down” approaches (using rational and cognitive skills) and “bottom-up” strategies (mindfulness, somatic awareness, movement, and breathing techniques) to stay calm and persist in the face of adversity.
Students see tangible results of their increasing competence in technical skills. They build strong connections with their peers. They know that they have autonomy within the standard expectations of the group. Competence, relationship, and choice are three ingredients that drive the development of intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy.
At BaMidbar, we meet every student where they are in their unique Jewish journey and honor the role Judaism does – or does not – play in their life. We engage in Jewish practice and tradition with a focus on community connection and individual exploration. We help our students explore meaning, values, and purpose through a Jewish lens.
BaMidbar’s programs are pluralistic, kosher, and Shabbat-observant.