Rite of passage reaches new heights!

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Rite of passage reaches new heights!

What began as a special way of marking a bar or bat mitzvah has now become the Bnei Mitzvah Charity Challenge, an annual hike that has raised £110,000 since it began in 2017

The 2019 bnei mitzvah group just before their Snowdon climb
The 2019 bnei mitzvah group just before their Snowdon climb

Who wouldn’t want to go the extra mile for their child’s bar or bat mitzvah? For three Mill Hill parents they literally did just that and more – by organising a fundraising climb up a mountain to mark their family’s coming of age celebrations.

Keen hiker Sarah Sultman, 43, from Mill Hill, came up with the ambitious idea alongside friends Matthew and Natalie Jackson, as her daughter, Evie, approached her batmitzvah three years ago.

“I thought it would be really nice to do something for [Evie’s] batmitzvah that involved a hike or a physical challenge” explained the mother-of-three, who is a co-director of Gesher Primary School, in Willesden.

“With the Jacksons, we came up with this idea to take 30 kids celebrating their bar- and batmitzvah up a mountain and get them to either receive sponsorship or pledge to donate a percentage of their gift money to a charity of their choice”.

Sarah and Richard Sultman, with their daughter, Evie

Soon enough, what began as a loose grouping of Jewish parents evolved into the Bnei Mitzvah Charity Challenge, which has now raised more than £110,000 for a range of good causes, including Norwood, Kisharon, and Camp Simcha.

Since 2017, the trio has organised one hike every summer. The first was at Helvellyn in the Lake District, followed by two hikes to Snowdonia.

On their inaugural trip, Evie, who attends Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls in Elstree, raised funds for charity 4ocean, which aims to help clear plastic pollution from oceans and coastlines.

Matthew and Natalie Jackson
The eager participants before beginning their climb up Mount Snowden, 2018

Over three years, 84 young hikers have taken part and brought a parent along with them.

“It was the weekend that had everything: stunning views, great company, delicious food, fun walks, parent-child bonding and tens of thousands of pounds raised for charities” said parent Simon Bernholt of his recent trip.

Sarah also recalls “a really special Friday night experience”, following a challenging “six or seven hour-long hike” on the first day.

“Every child stands up and tells us what charity they’re raising for and why.

“It’s really moving, because there are obviously some children who have been really touched by an experience in their life.

“We had a girl raising for Great Ormond Street last year, because they saved her life as a baby. She was there for the first six months when she was born.”

Everyone then takes a break from hiking on the second day, during Shabbat. “We bring lots of games, and we encourage no mobile phones or electronic equipment”.

Youngsters from this year’s fundraising climb up Mount Snowden

During the hikes, “fun and comradery” is the prevailing spirit, with kids and parents bonding with each other as they journey and rock scramble the mountains together.

“What makes us special is that we tell the children they can raise money for whatever means something to them. I think that’s part of coming of age, that you give the children the option to think about what causes are close to their heart”.

Although journey costs are generally paid for by parents, two bursary places are available for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. All food provided is kosher, and three additional volunteers, all scouts, do the cooking on site.

If you’d like to get in touch with the group about next year’s trip, you can contact them via email at: bneimitzvahcc@gmail.com or Facebook: BneiMitzvahCC

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: