Jennifer Hoagland’s Story
(With Steve, Alexis and Adam Weissman)
Little did I realize years ago, when (as a non-Jew) I hung out with one of my best high school friends, that one day she would lead our family to Or Hadash, a synagogue that is warm and welcoming to families with younger children and interfaith families.
When I was a new mother, I struggled to find a way to connect with other families at the first synagogue we joined. We always seemed to be the only ones attending Friday night Shabbat dinners with young children, and when we attended the High Holiday programming for young children, we seemed to be the only parents. Then my friend from high school found Or Hadash, and could not say enough about how welcomed she felt with her young children.
Our family soon attended a Religious School Open House at Or Hadash, as well as a Friday night Three Part Harmony service. Here was joy in learning and families praying together! There were all types of families interacting with each other – families with young children, families with older children, and families whose children no longer lived at home. Services and prayers were not ‘dumbed down.’ We joined Or Hadash, and I was able to learn as my children and other parents learned. In addition to learning prayers and history, we also learned how to celebrate Jewish holidays in our house and create our own rituals. This was very important to our creating a Jewish home, as our Jewish family members lived far away.
Now, our children are older and we see how proud they are to be Jewish, and how Jewish values have shaped their choices. To me, that says it all!