The challenges of parenthood are made easier when we belong to a community of like-minded folks. We can share in the joys of milestones, the pain of separation, the happiness of friendships and what’s more, we can learn from each other and grow. We are not alone.
Jewish and interfaith expectant and new parents of children under age two can share notes and make connections through a social group called jBaby Chicago. jBaby launched in 2014 as the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago’s first formal program that connects new families in Chicagoland to Jewish life and resources. And, engaging in a Jewish community in our grand city has never been easier. More than 350 families—representing 1,000 parents, grandparents, babies and toddlers—are able to come together for regularly scheduled organized playgroups, classes and informative one-on-one meetings with jBaby Chicago mom ambassadors.
A need developed—after much communication between interested parents and jBaby Chicago—for programs and classes that would be accessible to North Shore and northwest suburban families.
“As soon as we launched, we began getting emails and phone calls almost daily,” says Debbie Cooper, assistant vice president of Young Family Engagement at the Jewish United Fund.
Stephanie Sklar, mother of seven month-old Adam, was searching for avenues to meet other new parents for social activities. She was thrilled when she learned that jBaby was branching out to the suburbs.
“jBaby helps us incorporate Jewish values into our son’s life,” says Sklar.
Many interfaith families in the suburbs explore Jewish connections at synagogues, Jewish preschools and other Jewish organizations. It was a no-brainer for jBaby Chicago to reach out to suburban partners to develop the jBaby Chicago classes even further.
“We had 18 different Jewish organizations interested,” says Cooper.
This March, jBaby Chicago hit the burbs, offering a full list of local classes and events. Families can connect with other families during special Jewish holiday-themed events such as the Pajama Havdalah, Dreidels and Donuts, Purim Palooza and Passover Playdate. Working parents benefit from the downtown lunches for moms, enabling them to bond with other parents that have similar lifestyles.
“We are very interested in hearing from our demographic and growing and expanding our programming based on their needs and interests,” says Cooper.
Heather Jagher, a mother of three, appreciates that jBaby Chicago will give young families an instant network and a Jewish community to enjoy throughout their kids’ childhoods.
“I think it’s wonderful,” says Jagher.
Don’t miss these Family Fun articles:
- New in Town: Evanston’s Little Beans Cafe Brings Big Fun
- Everything You Need for a Super Fun Family Game Night
- 12 Creative Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Passover Seder