Sunday in the Park with Bagels

This past Sunday, JOI’s Mothers Circle program sponsored a special event in Newtown Park in Alpharetta, GA, a suburb of Atlanta, in partnership with the Marcus JCC. The program was a free Jewish holiday food-tasting for kids called “Sunday in the Park with Bagels,” and it drew over 150 people, mainly families with young children. JOI program officer Eva Stern and I were lucky enough to participate in the event.

Using JOI’s outreach methodology to take Jewish celebration out to where people are, we held this event in a public park rather than in a traditional venue like a synagogue or JCC, in the hopes that it would feel more comfortable to families less inclined to walk through the doors of Jewish organizations. It seems to have worked, as about half the participants were “new faces” (including some that might be interested in our Mothers Circle program for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children).

We gathered their contact information by requiring families to sign up for “passports” that their kids then used to receive special stamps as they walked from food station to station, sampling apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah, donuts for Hanukkah, challah for Shabbat (Sabbath), and so on. The JCC professionals and volunteers made sure to keep the families engaged while also providing some basic education about the Jewish holidays. And the contact information will be used to follow-up with participants, to thank them for coming, welcome them to the community, listen to feedback, and invite them to another event that they might also find relevant and fun.

For more on this program, or about JOI’s outreach methodology in general, please email Eva. Below are photos from the event…

Participants at “Sunday in the Park with Bagels,” under a gazebo in Newtown Park outside of Atlanta, GA, May 21, 2006.

Volunteer Mitch Cohen and JOI program office Eva Stern dispense apples and honey to the kids, a traditional Rosh Hashanah treat suggesting a sweet new year.

A mom and kids sample the Rosh Hashanah apples and honey.

A girl received a passport stamp after sampling the traditional Shabbat challah bread.

A mom and son try to guess how many raisins were baked into the challah. (Answer: two hundred and sixty something, I think.)

Shmeering a bagel with cream cheese, a traditional dairy food eaten on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

Guessing the exotic fruit, something we might eat on Tu B’Shevat.

This little girl checks out the Hanukkah donuts. She has clearly already enjoyed the free chocolate ice cream.

In cooking for the holidays, it’s important that mommy and/or daddy keep safety in mind, so the kids colored in their very own pot holders as gifts to their parents.

Coloring is serious business.

A girl shows off her beautiful work.

Proud dad and daughter with an excellently designed pot holder.

And a fun time was had by all!

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