Debra, a single mom, was struggling to reconnect with the Jewish community after having her daughter, Alisa.*
Like many new mothers, Debra suffered from postpartum depression following her daughter’s birth and struggled with severe anxiety. The thought of leaving her home became inconceivable, and even more so when Alisa developed chronic stomach issues. “Whenever we were about to leave the house, my anxiety would kick in. I kind of became a prisoner in my own home,” said Debra.
Living so close to the hub of our Jewish community in Silicon Valley, Debra was aware of J-Fam, Jewish Silicon Valley’s baby playgroup. “Alisa, we should join. This would be good for us,” Debra would tell her daughter. But making the first move isn’t easy when you’re struggling with postpartum depression. Debra’s hope and hesitation cycled until she ran into an old friend who convinced her to show up — both for herself, and for Alisa.
At their first session, while Alisa was a bit slow to warm up to a new social setting, Debra fell in love immediately. “The songs, the dances, the Jewish component, the people” all made Debra feel comfortable right from the start. For Debra, the J-Fam group quickly became a community and an opening to further social gatherings. “It flipped a page in my life with Alisa… it kind of just changed everything,” said Debra.
Joining J-Fam was a turning point in Debra’s life from feeling lonely and isolated at home to building confidence with new friends and fulfilling her need for fun, Jewish engagement. She takes comfort in knowing that she can call J-Fam members to set up a playdate, and she never misses an event suggested to the group. “[J-Fam] has put me in a better place to go do other things that I like to do that I haven’t been able to,” said Debra, noting the positive impact J-Fam has had on her mental health.
J-Fam runs the tagline, “A playgroup for Jewish babies & their grownups,” but for some, it’s so much more. Many new parents find it hard to reconnect with the community once they enter a new stage in life. At Jewish Silicon Valley, J-Fam is another way we aim to create connection and meaningful Jewish moments that grow into lasting relationships at every stage. Debra describes the day she ran into her friend as a sign or a “God shot” leading her to a program that changed her life. If you, too are looking for a God shot, you won’t have to look far.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy. To learn more about J-Fam, contact Rabbi Laurie Matzkin, the APJCC’s Family Educator and Mindful Jewish Journeys Facilitator, at [email protected].