Kveller.com: A New Jewish Parenting Website

from The Jewish Week:

New Push For Unaffiliated Families

… Plagued by out-of-touch or nonexistent programming; publicity that – when it exists – is unsophisticated and in the wrong venues; staff that is overstretched and undertrained; unfriendly prices and a lack of communication among individual institutions, Jewish programs tend to attract only the most motivated families, even as countless other parents express an openness to Jewish experiences …

With a new parenting website/portal called Kveller.com slated to launch later this month and with “ignition grant” funding set aside for projects in Brownstone Brooklyn and adjacent neighborhoods like Ditmas Park, UJA-Federation of New York’s two-year-old Beginning Jewish Families Task Force, which commissioned the study, is seeking to dramatically improve Jewish outreach to this demographic. What’s at stake? Attracting on-the-fence new parents at a point when they are forming lifelong friendships and making decisions about how to raise their children.

“We know this is a moment in the lifecycle of a family where there is potential to reconnect to Jewish life,” said Rebecca Spilke, a planning executive at UJA-Federation, which is investing “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in the project, including almost $200,000 on Kveller.

The study, conducted by Mark I. Rosen of Brandeis University and a team of six researchers, notes that when a young family becomes involved with secular institutions instead of Jewish institutions, parents are “less likely to establish friendships with other parents who are involved in Jewish life, and will be less likely to encounter Jewish role models.”

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  1. says

    Great article, and congrats to kveller.com on its upcoming launch!

    The MazelTot program in the Denver/Boulder, Colorado area is making strides in reaching this demographic, too. It’s at http://www.mazeltot.org. It just completed it first year today, and here’s some news about it:

    Denver, CO – MazelTot turned one year old on Sept. 17, 2010, and in its first year of life, this Rose Community Foundation initiative has made some good progress.

    What is MazelTot? It’s a free program to help young Jewish and interfaith families and parents-to-be connect to Jewish life and to one another. Parents can find information on hundreds of activities offered by more than 30 Jewish organizations at mazeltot.org and can sign up to redeem three big discounts. MazelTot discounts offer families substantial savings – up to $1,000 – for classes, programs, events, celebrations, retreats, camps and preschools.

    Since MazelTot launched in September 2009, 799 families from the Denver/Boulder area have signed up, representing 1,007 children and more than 100 expectant parents. Three new organizations, Chabad of South Metro Denver, Congregation Har HaShem, and Temple Micah, have just come on board, bringing the number of MazelTot partners to 32.

    “We are thrilled to be working with organizations that reflect the diversity of Jewish life,” says Sarah Indyk, Jewish Life initiatives manager for Rose Community Foundation. “Through MazelTot, we are all learning together about the kinds of programs and services that appeal most to today’s young families.” Among the many unique activities the discounts can be applied toward are things like having a Jewish storyteller come to a playgroup, having a Challah baking lesson for a family at their own home, or having a Jewish song leader visit to teach children and their friends special holiday songs or folksongs.

    When originally launched, MazelTot was intended to be a pilot two-year program, with family registrations taken only for the first year, and with the discounts expected to be used within one year of signing up. “When we decided to create an initiative focused on helping young families connect Jewishly, we looked for a model we could follow from another community. However, none emerged,” explains Lisa Farber Miller, senior program officer at Rose Community Foundation. “MazelTot is tailored to fit the families and organizations in our community and it began as a pilot-initiative; we needed to test the waters and see how people would respond.”

    Based on MazelTot’s initial success, the Foundation has extended the program. Family registrations will continue until September 2011, and families will have up to two years to use their three MazelTot discounts. In its first year, MazelTot families used 393 discounts for 86 different events, camps, schools and more, with a total value of $66,148. Families who have signed up for MazelTot say that its most appealing features are the discount offers and the opportunity to meet other families with young children.

    MazelTot is a nondenominational, no-obligation initiative of Rose Community Foundation in collaboration with 32 Jewish organizations and congregations. The Foundation supports efforts to create and sustain a vibrant Jewish community, in part by funding new ideas that connect Jews to Jewish life and to each other. MazelTot was created in 2009 to meet those goals and to encourage young families to try new Jewish experiences. Oreg Foundation, 18 Pomegranates and Alissa and Jeff Merage also provide support for MazelTot.

    Rose Community Foundation supports efforts to improve the quality of life throughout the Greater Denver community through its endowed grantmaking programs, and by advising and assisting donors who wish to make thoughtful charitable investments to better the community. The Foundation has granted $162 million since it was founded in 1995. For more information, visit rcfdenver.org.

  2. says

    Mazal Tov, kveller! Since 2007, BJE Los Angeles has been proud to host http://JKidLA.com, a website and attendant “Concierge Service” devoted to helping all families find Jewish programming in Greater LA that meets their needs best (e.g. parent & me groups, preschools, day schools, religious schools, camps, teen, parent & special needs programs and resources.) JKidLA families also receive bi-monthly E-Blasts that list “real-time” events and relevant Jewish programming taking place at synagogues, libraries, schools, museums and community and cultural centers. Finally, JKidLA maintains an active presence on Facebook and Twitter, reaching out to parents, educators, creative Jewish thinkers and philanthropic organizations, and engaging in the unique dialogue that social media affords. Originally funded by a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation, JKidLA is now funded in part by the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. Last year, JKidLA/Concierge Services was one of 10 programs selected by JESNA as exemplifying the “Best of the Decade in Jewish Education.”