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Shalom Baby Begins with Fun

[Archived from February 06, 2009]

[by Phyllis Shaikun]

Shalom Baby is a national program the Jewish Community Federation has just helped launch in Louisville to provide opportunities for young mothers who anticipate or have recently experienced the birth or adoption of a child (newborn through 12 months of age) to connect with the Jewish community and find support and build social connections with other young mothers. The first Shalom Baby program of the year was held on Sunday morning, January 25, with 20 mothers and babies in attendance.

Moms enjoyed a morning of coffee and conversation along with the chance to munch and muse about life in Louisville with their new offspring. Response to Shalom Baby has been universally positive and the program continues to gather momentum. Another seven moms have already signed on to be a part of things in the future.

Robin Weiss toted her four-month-old daughter, Noa, with her to the program. The mother of several other children (the eldest is age 17), Weiss welcomed the chance to meet with others in the Jewish community who are raising babies. She feels this sort of group “provides a sense of belonging.”

Shira Rabin, who is originally from California, came to Louisville more than three years ago via Iowa and Chicago. She is looking to Shalom baby “to provide a way to strike-up friendships and find more people with young children.”

Brett Friedman has been in Louisville about two years and recently became involved with the Federation. She volunteered to have the first meeting at her home and thought it was “really neat.” Finding playmates for her son, 3-1/2-year-old Mason, and daughter, seven-month-old Sabine, motivated her to become involved in the program.

“I’m from New Mexico,” said Vivian Stark, “and we’ve been in Louisville for two years.” The mother of three-year-old Daniel and two-month-old Aliza, she and her husband would really like to meet other young families in the area. “You can get cocooned in the house sometimes when you have little ones,” she said, “so meeting others in the same circumstances would be good.”

Louisville native Marci Weinberg Shuman moved back to Louisville six years ago. She knows Brett Friedman and became interested in Shalom Baby when she saw the invitation on Facebook. “I’m anxious to know more mothers with children my children’s ages,” she said. “Jackson is 3-1/2 and Stella is seven months old, and I’d like them to become involved with more Jewish kids. Hopefully Shalom Baby can help me do that.”

Although she too grew up in Louisville, Caren Carney Bailen says there are many new people in town. “I’d like to meet more moms,” says Bailen, who is involved with the Federation’s Young Leadership program “I would like to find some playmates for Brody and becoming involved with a play group would be ideal.”

Michelle Hazani is from Los Angeles and has lived in town for about a year. Since her husband is going through a residency program at the University of Louisville and they will be here another two-and-one-half years, she’d like to connect with other young moms (her children are Gabriel, six months; David, four; and Yonathan, almost six. She and her family belong to Congregation Anshei S’fard, and she hopes Shalom Baby will let her network and find other mothers she does not see at shul.”

Shternie Levy brought along three-month-old Etty. Levy is the mother of five other children and has been in Louisville almost 10 years. She serves on the PJ Library and Shalom Baby Boards and wants to network with other young mothers in the community.

“I lived in Chicago for seven years,” said Jennifer Tuvlin who is chairing the program and is co-chair of the Federation’s Young Adult Division for the Annual Campaign. “I didn’t become active in the Jewish community there until I received my Shalom Baby Basket. It was like an avalanche because finding out about one organization in the Jewish community led me to become involved in a number of others. I am so happy that Shalom Baby is here for women in Louisville. Some moms have already begun a play group and anyone is welcome.”

Tuvlin spoke briefly about the Federation’s YAD and PJ Library programs, and thanked the Federation’s Tzivia Levin and Allison Schwartz for their help with the Shalom Baby initiative.

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