Jewish Baby University Is a Haven for Expecting Parents

Photo: Drew Hays

Life is full of complexities, but by far one of the most intimidating journeys to embark on is parenthood. From the financial burdens to which lessons to teach your children, figuring out if you’re “doing the right thing” is a constant struggle. That’s why it’s incredibly valuable to have like-minded individuals to help guide you throughout the process – and that’s exactly where Stephen Wise Free Synagogue can be a critical resource.

The longtime neighborhood institution — founded in 1907 and located at 30 West 68th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue — maintains a stacked event calendar throughout the year, but this new program is their first for expecting first-time parents.

On Tuesday evenings from May 23 to June 20 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., Stephen Wise Free Synagogue is set to host Jewish Baby University, which will essentially serve as a crash course for all your needs.

Parents will have the opportunity to meet and connect with other peers in the same boat — over a catered dinner — as Rabbis Dalia Samansky and Samantha Natov present and highlight Jewish perspectives on raising children. Each session — featuring expert guest teachers — will dive deep into important topics, including naming traditions, financial planning, married life after children, Jewish education, and more.

Rabbi Dalia Samansky. Photo: RetroLenz Photography

Rabbi Samantha Natov. Photo: Edgar De La Vega

In order to maintain an intimate, personalized setting, Jewish Baby University is capped at seven couples — and if you’re concerned your level of Jewish knowledge or experience may not measure up to other guests, fret not. This congregation is open to all members of the community. As your little one approaches, it’s key to ensure your preparedness, and this may be the saving grace you’ve been waiting for.

Photo: Elizabeth Mealey Photography

Now, let’s get back to the team running the show here, shall we? Both rabbis are raising children of their own, so they’re plugged into the ups and downs of parenthood. Rabbi Dalia Samansky actually developed this class while working in Los Angeles, prior to her move east (this is the first time it will run in New York City!). Meanwhile, Rabbi Samantha Natov runs the synagogue’s Tot Shabbat program, so it’s clear any couples interested will be in extremely capable hands.

Babies don’t come with an instruction manual, but you don’t have to head into the future alone! Jewish Baby University is here to help teach you how to bring Judaism home and raise children with Jewish values and traditions. Of course, networking with other families with children close in age is a major bonus!

The first hour of each session will focus on a topic related to Jewish parenthood. After a catered dinner, guest teachers will discuss issues from the birthing experience to how to create (and pay for) a Jewish home. No questions are off-limits — you’ll be able to learn about everything from resources for postpartum depression to creating enriching Jewish experiences for your young child.

Jewish Baby University will meet over the course of five Tuesdays and includes a Shabbat dinner on June 16. Enrollment costs $360 for nonmember families and $100 for member families.

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