Thank you to Carolyn Slayton, Young Adult Programming Associate, for writing this week about a great program for young families in our community.
I want to acknowledge that this week was a tough week for me and for so many of us, whether you remembered the 11 lives we lost on October 27th through personal reflection, Torah study, volunteering, or by attending the community commemoration ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. Ultimately, I hope you took away not only the importance of remembering, but also the importance of being present in each moment and celebrating life. In a few weeks, we will be starting our second and third cohorts of Shabbat Shelanu, a weekly program for young children and families to celebrate life and share in the joys that Jewish community and tradition offer us. For me, and for the families that participate, it is a light that shines through a cloudy and gloomy time.
Shabbat Shelanu (meaning Our Shabbat) is a partnership program between PJ Library and the Jewish Federation and is generously funded by the Karp Family Foundation. This program for families with children 3 and under invites families from all over the Greater Pittsburgh area to connect weekly via Zoom. During the 1-hour Zoom session, participants are led by an incredible Jewish educator, Deb Taylor, in song, dance and storytelling. Every week before the Zoom session, each family is sent a curated box of craft supplies and activities from The Shalom Shoppe, a company based out of Philadelphia, to correspond with the theme of the week that they can do during the session or on their own.
The pilot sessions of the program took place in the spring of 2021, every Friday morning, with a group of 10 families joining on a regular basis for the weekly Zoom sessions. After a long week of work, I looked forward to Friday mornings with such delight. It was heartwarming and inspiring to see these families and their little ones in their living rooms light up with joy and excitement. Over the course of the 13 weekly sessions, we got to experience milestones together. Each week was something new. One child got their first haircut, others learned to walk, climb and utter their first words.
After the formal portion of the program ended, parents were encouraged to stay on and chat. For 30 minutes, parents could talk to another person who understood what it was like to have a toddler jumping on top of you while trying to get a sentence out. You could ask for tips about traveling with a child, or getting them to eat a variety of foods, or simply ask about other exciting playgrounds to check out because activities were limited due to the pandemic.
I’m excited to see some new and returning families for another cohort of Shabbat Shelanu starting November 11th. If you or someone you know is looking for a way to connect with other Jewish families with young children, I invite you to join us for Shabbat Shelanu. No pressure, come as you are and there is challah in it for you! Learn more about Shabbat Shelanu and register today.
Hope to see you there! Shabbat Shalom!