Michelle Shwarz and Greg Bornstein and their twins Adina and Blake, 4 years old.

We spoke to Michelle Shwarz and Gregory Bornstein​ about their favorite Jewish activities, their connection to Jewish community, and the ways jkidphilly has impacted their family.

What do you enjoy about jkidphilly?

We love the new Russian jkidphilly program. The activities are appropriate, accessible, scheduled at times when we can participate, interesting, fun, and affordable or free. We recently spent our 2nd Tu B’shuvat at the Morris Arboretum with jkidphilly. Blake actually remembers some of the fun facts about trees like too much water is bad for trees and that some animals help to make trees grow. Adina loved our Christmas day trip to Crayola and we appreciated that its an activity that is close by but we wouldn’t ordinarily do.

What kind of Jewish activities do you enjoy at home?

At home, we do our best to light candles on shabbat, sing Jewish songs, and support celebrating the Jewish holidays by lighting Hanukkah candles, baking hamentashen, having a big celebration for Rosh Hashannah, reading stories about Passover. We reinforce that these are the things we do because we are Jewish and that is something that we have in common with our family and some of our friends.

What are your favorite PJ Library books?

Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashannah Train–because there is a train and lots of Rosh Hashannah treats like challah and honey.
Planting Parsley–because it’s an “active” book that the kids can relate to when the kids decorate a pot for their parsley plant, which is similar to what they did for Tu B’shuvat.
Nosh Schelp Schluf–because we all like to shake our tuches.
Baby Be Kind–it was our first PJ Library book and it became a regular favorite. We read these books all year.

Are you part of any other organized Jewish communities?

We participated in Kehillah soccer this past Fall, but we are currently still “shul shopping” for the right fit for our family. We are also connected to Chevra.

What do you think other parents should know about jkidphilly?

The Russian jkidphilly program is perfect for families that are not otherwise connected to Jewish life. Other Jewish programs sometimes assume that families have a certain degree of knowledge of Judaism, Hebrew, and cultural traditions. That could be intimidating for Jews who know that they are Jewish but not much else. You can feel free to come as you are for a gentle introduction to all things Jewish for you and your kids. But it is also great for those who are regulars in the Jewish community and know a lot about religious life. The programs are also predominantly in English, so families like ours (Dad does not speak Russian) can participate without fear of being left out. Everyone is so warm, kind, and welcoming–Anna and Alla are wonderful leaders who will get back to you very quickly and will listen to your concerns and wishes about programing.