Nava Bernstein

Nava Bernstein’s Story

Nava was born and raised in Israel. Her family observed religious traditions without belonging to any synagogue. When she and Alon, her Israeli husband, came to the Silicon Valley in 1996, they did not look to join a synagogue.

They first lived in Sunnyvale, where their oldest child went to public schools and had no formal Jewish education. After they moved to Los Gatos three years ago, they sent the twins to Chabad Hebrew School for formal Jewish education after their day in public elementary school. Their fourth and youngest child is now going to Chabad Hebrew School, too.

Why the difference in formal Jewish education for the three younger children? “Living in Los Gatos is very different from Sunnyvale,” Nava observes. “In Sunnyvale, there were a lot of Israeli and American Jewish families in the neighborhood where we lived, but in Los Gatos, my children tell me there are very few Jewish kids, Israeli or American in their school.”

With that in mind, Nava started bringing her kids to APJCC Mesibah events to help them prepare for Jewish holidays with activities, such as making charoset and baking matzah, learning how to prepare oils for Hanukah, and enjoying books from the PJ Library. “They love it,” Nava says. “Rabbi James and Cyndi Sherman come up with so many ways for them to have fun.”

Recently, Nava and her children attended JCC Family Camp, a fun-filled weekend getaway in the redwoods near Pescadero. “It was a wonderful, community-building experience for me and for the kids,” Nava says. “The adults prepared meals together. My kids bonded with other children during the many well-planned activities for the kids.” The weekend featured comfortable cabin accommodations, Shabbat services, swimming, ropes course, hiking, sports, and campfires.

Nava also enjoys coming, herself, to the Jewbilee Jewish Day of Learning for adults every year. “I enjoy the lectures, and as much as that, meeting other members of the Jewish community. I like how the APJCC brings together Israelis and American Jews.”

For Nava it is important to instill both a sense of Israeli identity in her children and a shared Jewish identity with American Jews. “The children were born here,” Nava emphasizes. “What matters most to me is their being Jewish while having a connection with Israel. I want my kids to know about their Jewish identity, heritage and culture – to accept it and to be proud of it!” Nava also wants to teach her kids to give back to the community, whether it is through teen community service at APJCC, at Jewish Family Services, or in the Jewish Cub Scout pack where Nava is the Assistant Cubmaster.

Clearly, APJCC’s programs are making a difference to Nava, helping her to instill in her children the knowledge and pride of being Jewish despite their being in a minority in the larger community.

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