“Shalom Baby” is on the grow — with an “Expecting Expo” planned for May!

"Shalom Baby" was launched in the spring of 2020 as an initiative of Women’s Philanthropy through the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. Though, owing to the pandemic, the original thought -- to host a large community baby shower--did not come to fruition, neither did it deter the Shalom Baby co-chairs and our generous Jewish community from the goal of helping young families embark along the journey that is parenthood during what was an especially isolating time.

Rather than launching with the bang of a large event, Shalom Baby began in true 2020 fashion, with smiles hidden behind masks and socially distanced porch visits, to spark connection between families. These visits welcomed new babies to the Jewish community with the gift of a beautiful tote bag packed with quality items, thanks to an outpouring of generosity from our many community sponsors.

Some families living in the same neighborhoods without local family support connected to create pods of stroller walking groups. Today, you can still spot them gathering together for Shabbat and holidays and attending PJ Library programs along with their toddlers who are now the best of friends. As health restrictions eased, we began one on one coffee dates and walking meetups across the greater New Haven area and even a Shalom Baby concert last summer.

Our new co-chair, Rebecca Gerber, moved back to town with her husband and baby girl from New York City at the start of the pandemic and was one of our earliest recipients of Shalom Baby. Since then, Rebecca and her family have become eager volunteers. Along with her mother, Ruth Ratner, and her mother-in-law, Nancy Gerber, Rebecca kindly agreed to co-chair the next stage of this initiative. Under our new leadership, we have hosted a weekly “Shalom Baby Café,” with families with babies as young as 4 weeks (!) getting together to bond as Jewish parents whether this is their first or fourth baby. We intend to grow these meetups outside the walls of the JCC with a spin, Shalom Baby on the Go! Keep an eye out for details about these weekly meetups. We welcome your suggestions for a preferred day, time and location for these pop-up gatherings (a park in Cheshire, a coffee shop in Madison, walking trail in Milford?) by emailing Kayla at kbisbee@jewishnewhaven.org.

While we never did have that community baby shower, we are thrilled to announce the Expecting Expo, to be held on Sunday, May 21 at the JCC of Greater New Haven. Enjoy resources from pregnancy to pre-K with expert presentations, free classes (Pilates Palooza, infant CPR), free car seat safety checks and so much more. Register now -- the first 100 registrants will receive complimentary swag bags. The event will also feature many fabulous raffle prizes.

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