Parenting & Young Families Programs

Find community and support as you navigate the epic journey and joys of parenthood.

Children bring a unique blessing into the world. Temple Emanu-El offers a number of engaging and entertaining opportunities to share the wonders of Jewish culture and holidays together as a family.

Contact Us

Clergy Leader
Rabbi Amy B. Ehrlich

Staff Contact
Allison Salzman

Contact: youngfamilies@emanuelnyc.org

212-507-9515

Join the fun!

Parenting Tip of the Month

The most important factor for any smooth transition is the parent’s support, as a confident and reasonable (assuring) role model. Confidence is communicated through words, tone of voice, body language, posture, touch and eye contact. Remember children watch their parents for cues about how to feel and behave. It is natural for Parents to experience moderate amounts of stress, making it important to engage in self-care!

DO: Provide your child with information about what to expect at school or activities (i.e. wearing a mask, not sharing toys, social distancing). Use positive language Instead of fear-based language. Remember transitions take time and patience.

Parenting Tips brought to you by Dr. Juliet Cooper. Click here to view the latest Young Families email.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a joyous festival that celebrates nature and God’s harvest! We do this by moving outside our comfort zone, from our secure house into a fragile booth, called a Sukkah. Drawing from the natural world which God created, we decorate this temporary booth with God’s gifts – leaves and fruit.  We are to eat and sleep in a sukkah for an entire week – and welcome honored guests to join us. One important rule is that we are able to see the stars through the leafy roof.

As part of the celebration we use an Etrog (which looks like a lemon) and a Lulav, made up of palm, myrtle, willow bunched together. The Midrash tells us that the Etrog is like the heart. The palm is like the spine; the myrtle leaves are shaped like our eyes; the willow’s leaves look like lips. With every part of our body, we are to praise the beautiful bounty that God placed in the world for our enjoyment.

We hold the Four Species, Lulav and Etrog, together and wave them in all directions to show that God is everywhere!  Taken together they represent the many different kinds of people that God has created. Together, we make up a beautiful community, each person adding their own gifts to this beautiful world.

CRAFT IDEAS: Make Sukkot more beautiful!

MAKE AN EDIBLE SUKKAH
Use 3 square cookies; “Glue” them together with icing
Place pretzel sticks across the top
Decorate with gummy “fruit” and leaves

DECORATE ROCKS by painting them and adding a kind word. Use them to add beauty to your own sukkah.  After the holiday, give one to someone you love.

GATHER leaves and make rubbings of them. Use the rubbings to decorate your sukkah!

INVITE IMAGINARY GUESTS Because of the pandemic it will be hard to welcome people into your sukkah. But if you could welcome them, who would you invite? Grandma? Elsa? Anna? Spiderman? Think of 7 different guests. Think of questions you would like to ask them. If they are people you know, maybe you can Facetime or call and enjoy mealtime together.

MAKE WIND CHIMES or A STAR out of a paper bag with the instructions here.

Share the beauty of Sukkot with people you love!

Simchat Torah

On Simchat Torah, we celebrate our favorite book, the Torah, by reading the last chapters and then starting it all over again, because it has so much to teach us. As you read it, you’ll find great stories of Biblical heroes, like Abraham and Sarah. Adventures, like the one when Joseph went to Egypt and became an advisor to Pharaoh. Courage, when Miriam watched over her baby brother Moses when he was placed in the Nile, and Leadership, when Moses led our people to freedom. The Torah has everything! We say the words of the Torah are sweet, just as learning is sweet.

Make your own sweet Torah snack! Here is what you’ll need:

  • Tortillas
  • Pretzel rods
  • Licorice “shoe laces”
  • Chocolate syrup or cake icing or jelly (something sticky and sweet)
  • A ziploc bag (scissors to cut a corner)
  • A plastic knife

Substitute if your child is allergic to any of these things!

Flatten the tortilla to create “parchment.” Trim the top and bottom (with a plastic knife) so they are straight across.

Put the sticky liquid (syrup, icing, jelly) in a Ziploc bag (as if it’s a pastry bag). Cut off a tiny corner of the bag so you can control the flow when the liquid is squeezed out.

Use that sticky liquid to draw two vertical lines at the edges of the tortilla.

Place a pretzel rod on top of the stickiness. (Yum!)

Have your child “write” a letter in the center of the parchment (tortilla). It could be the first letter of their name or a Hebrew letter!

Roll the “Torah” from both sides around the pretzel rods, toward the center.

Tie it with Licorice.

Enjoy, with a book! (After washing hands)

Have you joined PJ Library yet? It’s free! Each month your child will receive an age-appropriate Jewish themed book and create a library of their own. Click here to learn more!

Also, download Axis 360 to borrow titles from our Stettenheim Library. Click here to learn more.

Parenting Groups & Classes

Our parenting groups and classes provide a safe discussion space for you to connect with other parents and offer your children a rich experience as they engage in guided developmental play. Our parenting staff works together to create fun, informative and Judaism-focused programming for the many young families at Emanu-El. Please email us at with any questions.

New Parents Group

A supportive, caring group for new parents and children 2 to 12 months old. Mazal tov and welcome to the wonderful world of parenting! There is no bigger change in life than the experience of becoming a parent. With the abundance of joy that new babies bring to our lives, there are also challenges!

Parenting Toddlers

For parents with children 12 to 21 months old. Come explore helpful parenting skills with Dr. Juliet Cooper, such as negotiating family roles, effective co-parenting, establishing positive and consistent routines, incorporating Jewish ritual into your family life and finding a healthy balance as a parent.

Working Moms Group

Dr. Juliet Cooper will help you manage professional responsibilities along with those colleagues who don’t understand the realities of being a mother; navigate the world of co-parenting; deal with “mom guilt;” build a community with other working moms and families.

young families, yoga

Growing Families

Welcoming younger siblings: Join us for an exciting new group for parents who have recently welcomed a second or third child. Dr. Juliet Cooper will help guide you through shifting family dynamics and issues that arise in sibling relationships.

Shabbat & Holiday Celebrations

Young Families Shabbat

Young Families Shabbat is created just for preschool and nursery school-aged students and their families. Join Rabbi Amy Ehrlich and Hadar Orshalimy to share joyful music and meaningful rituals in your growing family’s life. Over Zoom, we encourage your active participation in the chatbox to make every interaction feel personal. Those who wish to may also turn on their camera and share in lighting candles together to welcome Shabbat. Be sure to invite grandparents and other loved ones to join us!

Baby Bop

Baby Bop is a 45-minute program for families to experience music and movement, Jewish holidays and simple prayers, a bit of Hebrew and free play. Early childhood specialist and musician Hadar Orshalimy expertly leads this intimate parent/child group with her enchanting voice and engaging style. Baby Bop is geared for children who are 6 months old up to 30 months old.

Holidays & Special Events

Join in on all that Young Families has to offer! Sing, dance and play with us during holidays and special parties just for you and your family. Find out what events and holidays are coming up by viewing our Young Families calendar (click below).

A Letter from Rabbi Amy Ehrlich

Dear Parents,

Welcome back! We know these past months have been challenging but having a community around you can make our experiences a little more joyous and a bit easier when you are juggling new routines.  We’re so pleased to resume our programming for Young Families, including the High Holy Days, Shabbat and holiday celebrations.  Look for Baby Bop, our great weekly music experience (more than just a class!) with Hadar Orshalimy, now in the late afternoon, a time when so many parents are looking for something special to engage their child.

Now more than ever, parents can benefit from the warm support of peers and the professional guidance offered by Dr. Juliet Cooper, a child psychologist. Our Parenting Groups are for all parenting stages! Whether you are a first time parent with a new infant, navigating raising a toddler, welcoming another child to your Growing Family, or finding balance as a Working Mom, join us for these weekly conversations.  With two parents working from home, you are both welcome!

As you know, the Temple is keeping a close eye on health concerns! Through December, we are meeting by zoom. As the year progresses, we’ll continue to evaluate when we can safely come together again, in person. There is nothing I would enjoy more!

Wishing you a sweet start to a year of joy and discovery, and health!

Rabbi Amy Ehrlich

Weekly & Monthly Groups

Expectant Parents Group

Prepare for parenthood by taking part in a dynamic lecture series focusing on topics ranging from labor and delivery, healthy sleep habits, developmental milestones, infant CPR and postpartum health, to the unique joys and rituals of welcoming a Jewish child. Sessions will help you feel informed, empowered and ready for this next chapter. Click below to email Marni at for special member pricing. To learn more, visit readytoparentnyc.com.

Grandparents Program

Be the grandparents you want to be! Led by Ellen Davis, Director of the Temple Emanu-El Nursery School, and Rabbi Amy Ehrlich, grandparents will discuss and explore the many ways to support and provide structure for their grandchildren (and adult children). Please note: This program is open to Temple Members only.

Baby Fingers

Baby Fingers will return as part of a baby sign language mini-series. Whether you intend to incorporate sign language in your life for the long term or simply during this pre-verbal and developing verbal time, watch in awe as your child discovers the world of language.

young families

Jewish Storytime: Babies of the Book

A place for children up to age three (with their favorite adult) to join us for stories, songs and fun at the Temple Emanu-El Stettenheim Library. Each session focuses on a specific theme or a Jewish holiday. There is no charge for this program, but please register in advance.

yoga, young families

Baby Yoga

Karma Kids Yoga studio comes to Emanu-El with a monthly series where children are encouraged to “play” yoga and experience how their breath and body move together in a fun-filled way.  There is no fee for this program, but please register in advance. For ages 3-18 months.

Grandparents Program

Be the grandparents you want to be! Led by Ellen Davis, Director of the Temple Emanu-El Nursery School, and Rabbi Amy Ehrlich, grandparents will discuss and explore the many ways to support and provide structure for their grandchildren (and adult children). Please note: This program is open to Temple Members only.

Expectant Parents Group

Prepare for parenthood by taking part in a dynamic lecture series focusing on topics ranging from labor and delivery, healthy sleep habits, developmental milestones, infant CPR and postpartum health, to the unique joys and rituals of welcoming a Jewish child. Sessions will help you feel informed, empowered and ready for this next chapter. Click below to email Marni at for special member pricing. To learn more, visit readytoparentnyc.com.

Baby Bop

Baby Bop introduces toddlers, with their favorite adults, to Jewish holidays, a bit of Hebrew, and free play. Early childhood specialist and musician Hadar Orshalimy leads these small groups with her enchanting voice and engaging style. 

Families, what can we help you with today?

Have questions about family programming? Contact Young Families – 212-507-9515

PJ Library

Temple Emanu-El partners with PJ Library for a number of our Young Families programs. For more information about PJ Library and to request free Jewish books for your children, click here.