I started coming to BJ regularly when I became a mom three and a half years ago. Before then, most of the Jewish programming targeting young singles in NYC did not appeal to me. I never felt that connected to whatever holiday we were there to celebrate, but I was envious of those who seemed excited about it. I’ve always loved spending holidays with family and friends, but it was the togetherness—the connection to one another—that connected me, rather than the ritual itself. My daughter, Tahlia, has opened a new door for me, although I didn’t really recognize the changes at first.
Family services became our Shabbat morning routine. I would show up and talk to the two other moms I knew amidst the diaper changes, feedings, crying, and singing. It took at least a year to feel like I wasn’t just a visitor. I felt comforted to have a place to go and see familiar faces every week. As I began to talk to more parents, I noticed that, through this shared experience, we had developed relationships, even if we actually didn’t know that much about each other. It didn’t matter; we were there together every week.
I have come to rely on this community of young families, and recently became a co-chair of the Young Families Committee. This involvement has inspired me to engage further as a Jew. My reasons for participating have changed, or rather, have deepened. I have a curious, smart daughter who constantly asks me “why?” about everything. So I had to start asking myself what this all means to me, and to explore my own relationship with Judaism, God, and spiritual life. I don’t have all the answers, but I know that I want my daughter to grow up in a Jewish home with a positive connection to Judaism. We always light candles on Shabbat, and typically have Shabbat dinner with friends or family. It is assumed we will go to shul on Saturday morning, something I never thought would be “my thing.” I intentionally read her books on the upcoming holidays and attend related children’s programming. I know there is more for both of us to learn, and I look forward to the Yamim Nora’im, as we start the year with the luxury of time in reflection and exploration, in a community of seekers.