Coming of Age Program at IFFP

“There is no one way to be interfaith, you choose how to live your own interfaith life. I came to realize that being interfaith is being able to appreciate, understand, and live as a part of your family in a way that makes up your infinitely personal religious identity.”

–Maya Schindler, Coming of Age Class Member, 2019

IFFP’s Coming of Age (COA) Program is a two-year program spanning 7th and 8th grade years. Students will continue to deepen their understandings of both heritages and their relations with each, but also brings all these aspects together to explore their own identity and relation to the world through the lens of six big questions.

A Safe Place to Explore: We want to create a safe and open forum for students to explore their ideas and identities. The class will be primarily discussion-based, and we plan to use speakers, films, articles, and personal journals to inform our opinions.

Mentors: Starting in 7th Grade, Coming of Age participants develop a long-term relationship with a mentor.

7th Grade – Religion: What’s It To Me?

The theme of “loving neighbor, loving self” is interwoven throughout the year with a focus on the process of coming of age and the place of religion in their lives.

Main Questions

  1. What does coming of age mean to me? How does it change me? Or does it?
  2. How do you identify yourself at the beginning of the year and at the end?
  3. What are the most compelling values from either tradition for you personally?
  4. How do you face difficult situations and solve problems?
  5. What is spirituality? What is faith? What is religion? What do they mean in my life?
  6. What does it mean to “love our neighbor” in practical terms?
  7. How I have to love my neighbor who complains about…/bugs me by…?


  • Recognition of their entry into the COA program
  • Rafting/Camping/Hiking with 8th Graders and Teens (late summer)
  • Class Team-Building Day
  • Significant Community Service Project
  • Purim Booth (organized and led by the class)
  • Group Project to integrate what they have learned in a fun and imaginative way
  • Visit to a Retreat Center where they participate in various spiritual practices (walking a labyrinth, for example) (at the end of the year)

Our Goal: We want students to have connection with others by understanding different people’s faith journeys and to be ready to seriously contemplate their own faith journeys and form their own identities in relation to themselves and others.

2022 COA class

8th Grade – Questions and Decisions

IFFP COA students spend the year delving more deeply into “six questions” that inform how they understand and live their lives.

The Six Questions

  1. Who Am I?
  2. What does it mean to live a meaningful life?
  3. How do we build the Beloved Community?
  4. Why do bad things happen?
  5. Is there an afterlife?
  6. Who or what is God?


  • Opening Ceremony (with parents, mentors, teachers and class)
  • Rafting/Camping/Hiking with 7th Graders and Teens (late summer)
  • Class Team-Building Day
  • Holocaust Museum Visit: The class visits the Holocaust on a guided tour with an IFFP member whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors. They debrief with her and their classmates afterwards.
  • Safely-Supervised Solo Time in Nature
  • Significant Community Service Project
  • Purim Booth (organized and led by the class)
  • Ceremony and Reception: The whole community celebrates the participants as they begin to come of age. Each teen makes a presentation about one of the six questions. This presentation can be a speech, but could also be a video or a creative response through dance, music, or art. Each class member contributes to a keepsake booklet to celebrate their coming of age. The ceremony is followed by a reception.

After COA: Graduated members are welcomed as full members of the IFFP community. Many join the Teen Group and serve as interns in our Sunday School. They receive a stipend for their work and learn valuable skills, and serve as role models for younger students.

Watch a Coming of Age Ceremony presentation.