For expectant or brand-new parents, eight hours of sleep is often a thing of the past. When your to-do list includes check-ups, nursing and changing diapers, who has time for a full night’s rest, much less downtime to think about Jewish rituals, playgroups and preschools?
The Jewish Baby Network, a new program for expectant or new parents who want to raise Jewish children, can at least help out with the latter, and much more. Aimed at the Peninsula Jewish community, Jewish Baby Network — which launched in August — is a source through which parents can meet, share resources, take classes and more. It’s a joint project of Palo Alto’s Congregation Kol Emeth and Los Altos Hills’ Congregation Beth Am, made possible by funds from an Impact Grants Initiative awarded by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.
“While pregnancy, birth and babies can bring moments of awe and celebration, there are also times when parents-to-be and new parents feel anxious and alone,” said JBN program director Jen Wolosin. “The Jewish Baby Network is here to connect new families to each other and the larger Jewish community.”
The program is especially interested in engaging unaffiliated families, she added, who might otherwise never pursue Jewish education or experiences for their children, or who might wait years — say, until bar or bat mitzvah time — to bring Judaism into the home.
The network’s initial offerings include three components: a six-week Jewish birth-preparation class in Palo Alto on Wednesday evenings, beginning in January 2014, that will cover different stages of pregnancy as well as infant-care preparation and Jewish rituals like planning a naming ceremony; “shalom baby bags,” which are free gift bags for new parents that include a parenting book with Jewish traditions, a DIY Shabbat kit, a CD of Jewish music and a baby blanket; and a playgroup for new parents and babies, also to be held in Palo Alto.
The first playgroup meets Oct. 25, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Parents Place, 200 Channing Ave., Palo Alto. It is open to parents with babies born in August and September. On Nov. 10 from 10:30 am to noon, Jewish educator Mimi Greisman will lead young children in songs and games in an event co-sponsored by the PJ Library.
The website is also a hub of resources, including local mohels, Jewish preschools, information on blessings and Jewish rituals and more. For more information or to register for events, visit www.jewishbabynetwork.org or contact Wolosin at (650) 275-2215. — emma silvers