Jean Phillips: Finding a Community

We were not yet members of CBB when it was time to find a preschool for our daughter Alex, but BHY was the natural and pragmatic choice. My husband Dan grew up at the synagogue, and a number of our good friends were part of the community, giving us a built-in sense of comfort and trust. Add in the fact that we live just a few minutes away, and it was really a no-brainer. We didn’t even look at any other schools.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much more we were stepping into when we enrolled Alex at BHY. From the first day, we were welcomed by the ‘veteran’ parents whose younger kids were in her class. Stacie and Linda reassured us that before we knew it, we’d all be able to make it through drop-off without tears. We joined in the holiday events and the Tot Shabbat dinners. Alex soon settled in and made lots of friends as her class filled up over the next few months. So did we.

My family is not religious, and though we did have a small social circle, I had no experience of being part of this kind of a community when I was growing up. It has been wonderful to watch Alex grow and flourish at BHY, and to see how much she considers CBB to be a second home. From her earliest days there, she has known the names of all the clergy and staff, as well as her classmates, and they all know her. She already has deep bonds with her friends, and I hope and trust that those are going to continue for many years to come.

Over time, I have come to realize that it isn’t just Alex who feels at home here. While I don’t share the Jewish faith, the values of tikkun olam, social justice, tolerance, and community are very close to my heart and a natural fit. From the first, I have been received with warmth, openness and kindness as I built my knowledge of the rhythms and traditions of the Jewish year. (The fact that I can bake a decent challah probably didn’t hurt.) I’m very grateful for the fellow parents who have become friends, and all of the teachers and staff at BHY who create such a nurturing and loving space for our children. I appreciate the opportunities to support others in our community, and to ask for advice and help when I am in need.

Alex graduated this summer after four happy years at BHY, and she is missing her friends dearly. And I am missing the friendly waves and parking lot chats that were part of my own daily routine. We are all looking forward to the start of Netivot this weekend that will bring its own weekly routine and connections. And from there, on to the family Shabbats and holiday celebrations that will sketch out the shape of our years, and the shared milestones, laughter and memories that will fill them in.