As we “Count the Omer”, the days between Passover and Shavuot, we are struck with an irony: Shavuot is both the only Jewish holiday that has a ritualized count leading to it, yet it is also the only holiday mentioned in the Torah that is not assigned a specific date. That is a metaphor for our struggle with the coronavirus. It is also a metaphor for youth in the foster care system waiting for families, who are always counting the days with no promise of the family for which they long.

Even as local governments greatly limit their services during this unprecedented time, Second Nurture is ramping up our work at four of our eight new partner communities in LA County via remote introductory sessions and agency orientations.

We are also continuing to support our families in our thriving Wilshire Blvd Temple cohort who are in lockdown with their children, waiting for their children to come home, or in painful limbo as their adoption finalizations are postponed: holding remote bagel brunches where we gather to share a meal and talk through challenges and connecting in other ways such as remote trauma-informed yoga with the talented Kate O’Hara of Thriving Tree Yoga LLC.

Meanwhile, Susan is hard at work improving the Jewish educational materials. The Dave Thomas Foundation renewed their generous support to bring the resources we created (through their generosity) last year to a new level—professionally designed, web-friendly and branded. We are also thrilled to report that we have exceeded our goal to raise the $60k needed to trigger the second year donation of the generous Benmosche three-year commitment. Another generous grant from the Aviv Foundation helped us meet that goal.

We are having similar success in Columbus, receiving a renewed grant from Mentor Central Ohio, and a new grant from the Ohio Council for the Arts, to fund our collaborative effort to create a mentorship community for Transitional Age Youth (TAY) at the Harmony Project from Star House’s Carol Stewart Village, and the professional expertise of Starfish Alliance to guide us. When social isolation measures are lifted, the new mentors will be ready to welcome the youth into the Harmony Project Choir.

In these months, we are all counting the days—both to a safe freedom from isolation and, for Jews, to Shavuot to mark the moment God gave us the Torah at Mt. Sinai. But none of us h9lds the longing of the children and teens in foster care who count the days until their own Sinai, their own covenant of belonging, with no marked date to believe in.

Subject Line: Black Mitzvah—and More Mitzvahs—in LA

Dear Friends:

The days are getting longer—as are our growing list of adoptive families and communities that want to become Second Nurture partners!

At Wilshire Boulevard Temple, we now have 16 families who want to foster and adopt. Eleven have children at home, five of whom have now adopted their foster children. And we are growing LA County-wide as well. We are expanding our work to eight more Jewish communities, have started information sessions to recruit foster families and are thrilled with the interest we have found. Stay tuned for the official partnership announcements after Passover!

In February, we held our first educational roundtable with rabbis and Jewish educators in LA to test our educational materials that lift up and link the themes of fostering and adoption with Jewish lives today. As one rabbi said at the end of the session, “This text study is so important. It’s not just an announcement about fostering and adopting, we are engaging in a deep way.” In 2020, we are planning more roundtables and will hold them this spring in Chicago and Boston. Please let us know if you are interested in joining these events.

In case you missed it, Second Nurture founder and Executive Director officiated the bat mitzvah for Tiffany Haddish, Second Nurture’s newest board member, in December, the same day Haddish turned 40 years old and released her new Netflix comedy special, “Black Mitzvah.”

Finally, we want to thank all of you that have generously supported our work. We are well on our way pleased to raising the funds we need to secure a 3-to-1 match from our board member and generous donor Nehama Benmosche. Your combined support has allowed us to grow in LA—and we look forward to telling you about our wonderful new foster and adoptive families as they grow!

Dear Friends:

Even as these autumn days shorten, our joys, possibilities — and personnel — ever expand.

We’re so happy to welcome Danny Stewart, James Cohen, and Tiffany Haddish to the Second Nurture Board of Directors. Their incredible experiences and passionate concern for foster kids make them true champions for our mission.

James Cohen fought the State of Florida to win his right to foster and adopt a child as a gay man.

Danny Stewart found the child that was later to become his son abandoned on the New York City subway system.

A former foster child, author, and comedy and film superstar Tiffany Haddish developed her comedic chops in part as a way to deal with the pain and uncertainty that are too often a foster child’s lot.

Huge news from our cohort at Wilshire Boulevard Temple: Three new forever families

Talia and Evan officially adopted delightful toddler August in September.

Astor’s new dad Gerry is over the moon...Astor officially became his son in October….

And, also in October, Andy and Nicole finalized the adoption of their foster son David.

We are in the process of expanding the WBT cohort, formalizing the synagogue’s community-based support network, and identifying new partner synagogues in LA county.

It is a time of immense growth, and we are excited by the potential to get kids out of the system and into loving, devoted families who, themselves, are supported by a caring, steadfast community. Thank you for helping us make it a reality!

Last but not least, we’re happy to announce that we’ve just placed our Jewish adoption materials with three synagogues in LA as well as another eight nationwide. They are beautifully designed, very contemporary and cool, and vividly lift up and link the themes of fostering and adoption, loss, abandonment, and spiritual renewal in Jewish history with Jewish lives today.

Please give them a look—we’d love to get your feedback and suggestions. Just click any one of the following links to view our Purim, Passover, Shavuot, and High Holidays and Sukkot resources. Wilshire Boulevard, Stephen S. Wise, and the IKAR synagogues are all now using them.

לצמח ולהצמח

May you flourish and help others to flourish,