“We created this new program for first-time parents—to reassure them that they’re not alone in this. Other parents are in the same boat, looking to develop a community network and prepare for the arrival of their first child.”
Holly Wolfson, Chief Program Officer at the Mayerson JCC, discussed J Baby, the organization’s newest offering for young adults, coming this fall. The four-part prenatal series will offer soon-to-be parents essential classes on the basics of childbirth and infancy care, in an environment built to nurture not just their parenting skills but community among participants.
“While parents would typically be taking these classes through a local hospital, J Baby provides the additional opportunity to develop lasting friendships with other expectant parents in the Jewish community,” Wolfson said.
The program will include courses taught by certified professionals, pediatricians, and doulas and will prepare parents for labor and delivery, breastfeeding, Jewish life cycle events, and newborn safety. Women who will be about five to six months pregnant this October are eligible to participate and are welcomed to invite their spouse, partner, or support person to attend with them.
While the prenatal classes themselves will offer the same level of expertise as more traditional offerings, the social aspect of J Baby is integral to the program and reinforces that sense of community.
“Before the series even begins, we will host a social gathering so everyone in the first cohort can get to know each other,” said Marisa Phillips, who is the JCC team member launching J Baby. “And following the final class, we will celebrate with a dinner out together in OTR.”
“Our goal is that the relationships and connections established during the class series don’t stop when the J Baby program ends,” Phillips continued. “As they grow their families and experience both the challenges and joys of being new parents, they will have one another to lean on.”
Phillips noted the J Baby program will also host postpartum classes to check back in with J Baby participants and continue to help them develop parenting skills.
A natural progression from J Baby is the JCC’s PJ Library program. Phillips also manages the Cincinnati chapter of PJ Library and PJ Our Way, which sends curated, award-winning storybooks and activities for kids from birth through age 12. The program sparks meaningful conversation and provides opportunities to explore and celebrate Jewish life together.
“In addition to receiving books each month, families participate in fun local activities, which further deepen relationships among young families and encourage engagement in Jewish life,” Phillips said.
“We envision J Baby as the first step on a journey of connecting Jewishly and building relationships in our community,” Wolfson said. “The bonds created during this period of parents’ lives are lasting. The J is here to provide a space for those connections to form and grow.”