In the fall of 2016, my husband, Jeremy, and I decided to enroll in Parenting Through a Jewish Lens (PTJL). We had two boys, ages 2 and 5, and had heard that friends with young children had really enjoyed the class. We thought it would be helpful to connect with a group of like-minded parents and knew we would get something out of the experience—new friends, community and parenting companionship.
We signed up for a Friday morning class at the JCC preschool, where our children were enrolled, but, unfortunately, only three people signed up for the class, so they had to cancel it. We heard there was also a class being held at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, so we were able to shift to that class. But yet again, there weren’t enough parents signed up for the class, so it was also canceled.
We were disappointed and confused that there wasn’t enough interest at these locations. Was it the time commitment? The time it was being held? Child care? We talked to a few friends about it and some showed interest. That got me thinking.
After our second class was canceled due to low enrollment, I spoke with Ahava Rosenthal, the director of Parenting Through a Jewish Lens, to see if there were any other options. She mentioned that the class had been run out of a private home in another suburb of Boston and participants had a really good experience with this set-up. I thought more about it and decided this was something we could do.
Ahava and I planned the course around a schedule we thought would work for more parents—7-8:30 p.m. on Sundays—and Ahava found an instructor who matched our needs. I emailed my network of Jewish parents and asked them to pass the invitation along. PTJL advertised the group for us as well. Suddenly we had 10 participants.
Jeremy and I hosted the classes in our home. We had a babysitter take care of our boys upstairs, and the other parents left their children home with other babysitters. Some took advantage of the child care and went out to dinner before coming to our house. We always had wine, beer and snacks for everyone to enjoy. The setting felt relaxed. As time went on, other parents in our group offered to host as well.
Our class has become a tight-knit group of friends and we all really enjoy our Sunday evenings together. We met about seven times that first school year and unanimously voted to continue the class last year with our same instructor. We have now been meeting for almost three years. And, as we finish up our third session, we are brainstorming about ways to continue as a group with our beloved instructor.
Hosting a class in our home has been a wonderful experience. The setting feels intimate and relaxing and has helped me establish new friendships and build community. I only knew four of the 10 other parents in the group before it started, and now we all feel close. Each month, Jeremy and I look forward to our PTJL class—to learning new things about parenting through a Jewish lens, to catching up with friends and to conversations that help us all survive the challenging job of parenting!
Hebrew College’s Parenting Through a Jewish Lens is supported by CJP. For more information, please email Ahava Rosenthal, director of Parenting Through a Jewish Lens.
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