Newish, Jewish, and Finding A Community
I came to Denver with my 6 month old twin boys and my 5 year old daughter. We landed in my parents’ basement (which was much appreciated) before finding our first home in the DTC area. My daughter went off to kindergarten, my husband to his job, and me to unpack, nurse, start the boys on solids, and pretend to be awake enough to cook, clean, and connect with my new town.
The first year was tough. I’d go for lovely walk while my boys slept in their double stroller. I even managed to run with them in it sometimes. I would get the occasional “Wow, how do you push those things” or “I remember doing that – You go Mama” but besides those brief remarks, my adult social life was pretty bleak.
The following year my daughter went to the public school down the street. We began meeting some neighbors and I found a playgroup. My boys were big enough to hang around on the swings at the playground and we connect with a few more people. One mom from the playgroup had a daughter that was my daughter’s age and they have become great friends and the mom is one of my early morning running partners – a great time to talk with another mom about those pre-teen hormones.
It wasn’t until the JCC started a satellite space less than a mile from our home that I understood the meaning of creating community – of having those semi-regular meeting times that if we didn’t show, someone would notice and make sure we were doing okay. The boys and I would take our bikes to Friday Tot Shabbat or an art class. Other parents would regularly be there. We’d schedule our work schedule so that Friday morning was a non-negotiable time with our kids just so we could be together with parents and kids. Sadly, the satellite space came and went but the families stuck together.
We were approached by MazelTogether who offered to help facilitate our discussions of what we’d want our group of families to look and feel like. 3 camping trips, a bunch of Shabbats in the Park, Yom De Derby and Tu B’shevat Seders at the Shwartz Farm, and a lot of meeting up at parks (both planned and randomly), we made connections. The group has expanded and contracted, departed to different preschools and elementary schools and now Hebrew schools, but we love to connect still at the Library, the early morning grocery store shopping trips, Chanukkah celebrations and even older sibling Bat Mitzvahs.
Finding ways to be a part of our neighborhood has helped us to capture moments that we may have missed had we each decided to simply go our own ways. It has helped us to reach deep within our Jewish roots and stretch our branches. I am proud to announce that MazelTogether and PJ Library are teaming up to help other families connect in these ways all around Denver and Boulder.
I have learned that neighborhoods are often the strongest building blocks to warm, caring, and growing communities. The neighborhood helps strengthen the bonds between parents and children and allows us to push ourselves to meet new people, experience new sights and sounds, and be open to exploring the world around us. I look forward to being part of fostering these meaningful connections.
If you are also interested, you can get started by completing this brief PJ Library MazelTogether Neighborhood Collaboration Questionnaire. And please feel free to reach out to me to set a time to talk about getting involved – Bethany@mazeltogether.org
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