Meet Jennifer Schmerling

“The camaraderie from frequent gatherings is invaluable for parents who want their families to be lifelong members of their Jewish community.”

I moved here from Orlando with my husband and was new to the community when I had my twins. Although he went to Beth Tfiloh for high school – he’s from Annapolis – and had roots in this community, as a newcomer, I was looking to meet some young Jewish families.

One of my friends told me about this amazing program, Ahava Baby. The Pikesville group was holding an event at CJE. I took my 11-week-old twins. Although my babies just ate and slept, I met other moms with similar interests. Everyone was just so warm and welcoming.

Afterward, Nannette, who is the Pikesville Ahava Baby coordinator, invited my family to Shabbat dinner at her house. There were a number of other Jewish families there and it was simply lovely. The kids sang Shabbat songs, there were educational materials and games and we had some adult conversation. Having twins – it’s sometimes really hard for my husband and me to get out – so this was such a wonderful way to meet other Jewish families.

Since then, I’ve been to Chanukah and Purim programs. Throughout it all, I’ve had a chance to see my twins grow and evolve. In the beginning they slept, but now they’re becoming engaged. They actively watched their first Purim puppet show and, recently, they played the instruments at an event at Nannette’s house.

At the same time, I’ve met some wonderful women in the Ahava Baby group. They are just so inclusive. We’ve had baby clothes swaps, connections through social media, meet ups at JTown at the JCC. I already knew about the CJE’s PJ Library program but I also learned about so many other great Jewish programs in town like Shalom Baltimore and Challah Tots at the JCC.

Nannette has been so kind. Not only does she tell us about programs and what to do in Jewish Baltimore, but she also checks in on us. I’ve gotten personal emails asking how my twins are doing. And I look forward to the times we just get together.

Through Ahava Baby, I’ve met wonderful Jews of all denominations, shared first Jewish experiences with my girls and most important discovered a real sense of community and belonging.

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