Nefesh

Nefesh is a spiritual community that promotes cross-cultural dialogue, social justice, creativity, and connection in east Los Angeles. Rabbi Susan Goldberg founded Nefesh with the intention of placing the margin at the center – that is, prioritizing those who have struggled to find community and their place in it. In keeping with these values, Rabbi Goldberg helped to spearhead Second Nurture’s pilot program so that more Los Angeles children in foster care could experience the love and stability of a family.
 

Second Nurture cohorts provide more than just a little support: they transform lives. “I just received a call that G has a 2-day-old brother,” a panicked foster mom wrote to Second Nurture one afternoon. “They asked me to take him.” She was a single foster parent and worked full time, and when she got word that G’s biological mother had just given birth to another baby boy who needed care, she did not know if she could handle it. “Can you connect me with the other single parents in the [Nefesh] cohort?” she asked. 

 

The community sprang into action, and within 24 hours had gathered and delivered a bassinet, a stroller, a car seat, diapers, clothes, bottles, and formula. A meal train was organized, groceries were delivered, and what at first felt like an impossible situation to an overwhelmed foster mom turned into a testament to the power of community. 

Today, the brothers are together and thriving, and their mom is grateful. “I’ve had an opportunity to welcome two amazing young boys into my life and provide them a forever home filled with love and security,” she says. “Supporting children through foster care has been incredibly rewarding for me personally. All children deserve safe and loving homes, and I'm so grateful to do this within my own local community. The fellowship and community that I have with Second Nurture is what allowed me to survive and thrive.”

After another foster mom welcomed a three-year-old boy into her home last year, she turned to the Nefesh cohort for support. The boy was raised in an Orthodox household, and his foster mother - who is not Jewish - reached out to the community for advice and support to help support his Jewish faith and practice while in her home. The Nefesh cohort members stepped up, teaching her about Jewish traditions, providing food for Jewish holidays, and even making sure that her foster son had a brand-new Paw Patrol yarmulke. They created a WhatsApp group to make it easier for her to stay connected and ask questions. The boy has since been reunited with his family, but having felt the generous embrace of the cohort during his time in her home, the boy’s foster mom still attends Second Nurture meetings and remains committed to the community.  

 

For families curious about fostering, Second Nurture cohorts are sometimes the catalyst they need to take action. Jessica was intrigued by the idea of fostering a child, but didn’t know where to start. She began attending Second Nurture meetings to learn more, and as the months passed she gained information, a network of support, and the confidence to take the first steps. She completed the requisite foster parent training, and was recently matched with a teen in foster care who will soon come to live with her. She credits the Second Nurture community with helping her take the leap.