The name epitomizes what the program hopes to accomplish as it launches in November. “Shalom” can be translated as hello, goodbye and peace. Shalom Baby, an outreach initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven’s Women's Philanthropy, will welcome Jewish babies and their families to the Greater New Haven area’s Jewish community. Through collaborations with area synagogues, vendors and agencies, Shalom Baby will offer Jewish connection and resources to families who have recently experienced the birth or adoption of a new baby.
Already regarded as a leading infant outreach program in the US, Shalom Baby is now introducing local families to the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greater New Haven, area congregations, and other Jewish organizations.
Shalom Baby relies on the community to provide names of Jewish families who recently brought a child into their family. Each family receives a gift bag with helpful information, resources and welcome gifts from area synagogues, agencies and community sponsors.
Some of the items included in the bags from the program’s generous sponsors are a teddy bear from Gayle and David Slossberg, a silicone bib from the Jewish Federation, a cloth bib from JScreen, a PJ Library® Book from Sound OBGYN, Shabbat candles from Big Smiles Pediatric Dentistry & Milford Pediatrics, and more. Information is included on how to register for a free monthly PJ Library® book (ages birth to 8 years) as a gift from the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, local donors and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
The Women’s Philanthropy’s Shalom Baby Committee is a group of dedicated parents and grandparents who volunteer their time and work closely with professionals to plan programs for families and parents. The committee’s co-chairs are Irit Perkins, Nicki Golos, Stephanie Wain and Shelley Kier.
“I grew up in the area so it’s an honor to be able to participate in something that helps bring the community together,” says Kier. “I have always been so proud of the community I grew up in and am excited about the opportunity to help fellow moms feel the warmth it has to offer. I hope this helps to reach out to families, especially during this crazy pandemic time. Just because we are isolated physically doesn't mean we need to be emotionally isolated from one another.”
“We got involved in Shalom Baby because, as the mother and grandmother of both a toddler and a newborn, we know how important it is to build a community in which the next generation can thrive,” state Perkins and Golos. “It really takes a village! And we want to make sure other families, especially new ones, know what a warm, loving, and collaborative little village is waiting to welcome them here in the Greater New Haven area. Now, more than ever, it's important for us all to reach out!”
When asked why they chose to get involved as sponsors, David and Gayle Slossberg spoke about remembering what it was like to come into the community with young children and the importance of connecting with other families.
“Especially nowadays, even though we are connected technologically, it is easy for us to feel lonely. In addition to the idea of reaching out to young families, this is building the future of our Jewish community in the New Haven area. It is a chance to be the extended family in a world where people move all the time. It is a chance to cultivate new relationships and leaders, and a regrowth of our community,” says David.
From a practical perspective, the Slossbergs hope the program will not only educate families about the organizational and community services and supports offered, but also the strength of the local volunteer Jewish community and how they can help as their children grow up.
“The single most important thing for me is for the families to know that the Jewish community reached out and was there for them. That every Jewish family knows right from the beginning that they have a community where they are respected and valued, and where they belong. That is what this outreach will hopefully represent,” says Gayle. “Shalom Baby is just the beginning. Similar to a well-known saying, someone planted a ‘tree’ for me, and I am now planting a ‘tree’ for someone else. So we hope Shalom Baby will take root and grow as our new Jewish families grow in their future in our community.”
Support Shalom Baby’s efforts to reach as many new Jewish families as possible by providing families’ names and contact information to Kayla Bisbee at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (203) 387-2424 x300. Learn more at jewishnewhaven.org/shalom-baby.