If you’re interested in encouraging people to raise Jewish children, it seems so obvious to reach out to new parents. And indeed, much of JOI’s focus has been to serve both newlyweds and new parents. For example, we know that the women of other religious backgrounds served by our Mothers Circle program have often pledged to raise Jewish children before any kids arrive, but with the birth of their first child the promise suddenly “comes due,” and the new moms fully recognize their need for services from the community – and are grateful when those services exist and are accessible.
Surprisingly, the Jewish community as a whole does not offer a tremendous amount of resources for that demographic.
Usually, institutions are content to wait until the children are pre-school age and expect the population to seek out the services on their own. That’s why we particularly applaud a new initiative by the UJA of New York, as reported in the [New York] Jewish Week, which appears to be more proactive in reaching out to families with very young children, including intermarried families. One of the initiatives is a partnership with our friends at MyJewishLearning.com for a new website called “Kveller” (a Yiddish word, loosely meaning someone full of pride, usually about their child’s accomplishments).
The study by Mark I. Rosen of Brandeis University appeared to use good “outreach methodology” in conducting what the article calls “‘spontaneous interviews’ conducted in public settings,” and we encourage any such initiatives that follow to utilize similar methods of meeting people where they are and taking Judaism out to the people rather than expecting them to come to us. We hope this will be the start of many new and exiting offerings for parents of young children in New York.
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