Mitzvah Initiative—Frequently Asked Questions

What do we need to do to become a participating congregation or organization?

The Mitzvah Initiative invites participation from Conservative synagogues, Solomon Schechter day schools, Ramah camps, and other Conservative Jewish organizations.

In order to participate you should:

  • Read the information posted on this website.
  • Contact Jane Shapiro, Mitzvah Initiative lead educator, at mitzvah@jtsa.edu.
  • Assemble any other lay or professional leaders needed to support and champion the project.
  • Complete the application form.
  • Plan to attend the next faculty orientation. These sessions are required.
Why is the faculty orientation required?

The Mitzvah Initiative has a unique approach to talking about mitzvah. At the orientation, you will learn the core principles of the project both strategic and pedagogic. The orientation is also for your own professional development; to learn about best practices in the field of adult education. It is also a chance to hear about how other congregations and institutions have customized their own projects. Ample time is given to study and work with the curriculum.

What are the costs?

JTS has created the Mitzvah Initiative and made it available at no cost. There is no fee for the use of the curriculum. However, there is a registration fee of $100 per person for the orientation in addition to travel costs.

At the orientation you will receive one printed copy of the faculty guide and the student reader. You will receive a pdf file of the materials for printing. The size of these readers has been kept modest in order to keep costs and paper-use to a minimum.

Please note: some congregations, at their own discretion, may opt to engage outside faculty, which would of course incur an expense. Some congregations have charged a nominal tuition fee to cover local costs. During the year, you and your organization may also consult with the JTS Mitzvah Initiative lead educator with no additional cost.

What topics are covered in the Mitzvah Initiative?
  • Introduction to the Mitzvah Initiative: How Does Change Occur in Your Life and in Your Jewish Life?
  • A Signature Mitzvah
  • A History of the Idea of Mitzvah
  • Beit Midrash on Hashayvat Aveydah and Bikkur Holim
  • The Mitzvah of Tefillah
  • Obligation and Commandedness
  • Honoring Parents—The Challenges of Obligation
  • Chevra Kaddisha—The Ultimate Mitzvah of Obligation
  • Mitzvah to Inspire and Activate Your Jewish Journey
  • Beit Midrash on Tzedakah and Tikkun 'Olam
  • Stewardship of the Earth—A Compelling Mitzvah for our Time
  • God, Love, Mitzvah—Activating a Relationship
  • Shabbat as Mitzvah—Constructing a God-Centered Community
  • Coming Full Circle—The Signature Mitzvah Revisited
What sort of texts are included in the curriculum?

There is a full array of texts, both classical and contemporary, written by scholars from The Jewish Theological Seminary and leading teachers, rabbis, young professionals, and thought leaders in the Conservative Movement today.