Wilshire Boulevard Temple

Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) has partnered with Second Nurture since 2017, but has been cultivating a culture of inclusivity, innovation, and community service for generations. What began in Los Angeles with a few dozen worshippers in the mid -1800s has swelled to a supportive, multicultural congregation of thousands. “I found love here,” says one congregant of WBT. “Here, they love everyone the same.”

WBT Associate Executive Director Jodi Berman has been a champion for Second Nurture since learning more about the realities of the Los Angeles foster care system several years ago. “One of our rabbis attended a seminar in which she learned that if every house of worship in Los Angeles helped to place one foster child, the foster system in Los Angeles would be completely eliminated,” Jodi recalls. “That’s a hard vision to ignore.” She met with Rabbi Susan Silverman and Talia Green of Second Nurture, who showed her and her colleagues ways that the synagogue could support potential and current foster families.“They offered partnership and incredible resources, and they have been by our side every step of the way,” says Jodi. “It has been our greatest gift to have Second Nurture's expertise guiding us, and we continue to appreciate the impact we make with them as our partners.”

 

For WBT cohort member Andy, a supportive community gave him and his wife, Nicole, the courage to take the first step toward fostering, and eventually adopting, their two sons. “I still think about conversations I had [before we adopted our children] with a foster-to-adopt dad,” Andy says. “He said to me, ‘Whatever you want to talk about, I’ll clear my calendar.’ Those are the moments that changed our family’s history.” 

 

Andy and Nicole started to explore options for adoption. “We’re here in LA county and there are kids who need forever homes,” Andy says. “The foster-to-adopt process called to us… we [wanted] to be a forever home for somebody.” Andy stresses the importance of Second Nurture cohorts for families like his. “Second Nurture is such an awesome way for a whole community of people [to be] there for those exploring fostering or adoption. Their model is so simple and beautiful that we knew immediately that we were all in, and we will be there for Second Nurture families in whatever way we can.” 

Peer-to-peer support and the connection to a larger community are what have drawn Andy and Nicole to Second Nurture, and keep them coming back to support other families like them. “I admire and want to be part of the community responsible for these kids. Even if you don’t want to be a foster parent, you can support those who are. We still do need support ourselves, but we… feel like veterans of the system and we’re ready to give back.”

 

Single dad Gerry, another WBT cohort member, echoes Andy’s sentiment. “[Second Nurture] has offered me a place for emotional support. It is a place to share my story. It’s beautiful what they’re doing.” After struggling for years to adopt, Gerry was finally matched with his son, Astor, who has taught Gerry about patience, generosity, and his deep capacity for love. “There is a restorative yoga pose where you breathe as deep as you can,” says Gerry, “and then you breathe a little more. This is what I’m learning about myself…that there is a little more.” 

 

For WBT cohort member Wendi, Second Nurture was the extra push that helped her finally heed that same inner call for a “little more.” Wendi had always wanted to become a foster parent, but as a busy working mom to four biological children, she had not found the time to pursue it. Still, the thought lingered. One morning, after dropping off her kids for Hebrew school at WBT, she headed down the hall to a Second Nurture meeting that she’d read about in the synagogue’s newsletter. “If my synagogue had not sent that survey from Second Nurture, I would not be a foster parent today. It was the kick in the butt I needed. And I sort of wish I had gotten it sooner,” says Wendi. Armed with the information she needed to take that first step and the support of the WBT cohort behind her, she has provided short-term fostering and respite care for more than eight kids in foster care. 

 

Each of these families wants people to know that there is nothing superhuman about being a foster-to-adopt parent. “When I hear people say, ‘I could never do that,’ or ‘It takes a really special person,' I think, ‘No. You totally could,’” says Andy. “If you’re committed to showing up every day and loving a kid with everything you’ve got, then you can do this.”