Israelis in Brooklyn

Elite chocolate. Yum.

Last week I learned about Russians in Brooklyn. This week, it’s Israelis. Maybe I’m super interested in this because my husband just got back from a trip to Israel (regaling me with stories about the food, the beach, the friends he visited…and all I got was some Elite chocolate which, though delicious, doesn’t make up for leaving me behind). Or maybe it’s because I am constantly envious of the moms and dads who speak to their kids in English and Hebrew–last week I caught myself staring at a mom at the local playspace who was reviewing the colors in Hebrew with her son. Or maybe it’s just because I love Israel and Hebrew. But nonetheless–this program is awesome.

I talked on the phone to Yehudit Feinstein, a local momma (of 2-year-old twin boys, no less!) who had the idea to start meetups of Israelis in Brooklyn. It started a little while back when she was feeling like her sons didn’t have enough Israeli culture or Hebrew language outside of their home. She herself was craving community of Israeli moms who spoke her language (both literally and figuratively). She talked to Rabbi Andy Bachman at Congregation Beth Elohim, who encouraged her to create the community she was trying to find. So Yehudit planned a get-together, and sent an email to her friends, who forwarded it to their friends, and they ended up with 50 people attending. Yehudit explained that moms came up to her with tears in their eyes, thanking her for creating a space for community amongst Israelis. It was at that moment that she knew something amazing was happening.

Israeli kids playing at one of the first meetings of Keshet

A few months later, she planned a workshop on parenting for Israelis, facilitated by an Israeli psychologist who wrote his dissertation on Israeli parents living in America. Twenty-five parents came. Yehudit went out afterward with some of the moms, and they all talked about how much these programs were meeting their needs–and how much more they needed. That night Yehudit couldn’t sleep. She stayed up all night, writing grant proposals. A while later, thanks to some generous funding from the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the UJA-Federation of New York, Keshet and KeshetTOT were born.

Sunday, February 13 is the first meeting of KeshetTOT (aimed for children ages 0-3 and their parents). It’s a two-hour session filled with open play, Israeli music, snacks, and of course, lots and lots of Hebrew. It will be meeting twice a month until the spring, and it’s pretty cheap for a class in Park Slope–only $118 for 10 sessions. They’re already very close to capacity, so sign up fast! Email to register. Seriously. You don’t want to miss out on this one.

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Amy Deutsch

Amy is a Jewish educator and a mom. After graduating from Brandeis University she received a master’s degree at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she was a Wexner Fellow. Over the past 10 years Amy has developed experience in teaching, family education, camp, curriculum writing, and most recently, has begun teaching “Baby & Me” classes.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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