Rabbi Sharon Brous knew what she wanted – and didn’t want – when she founded IKAR in 2004. “I was not interested in creating another synagogue,” she says. The IKAR – or “essence” – of her vision was to create an opportunity for Jews to engage in traditional Jewish ritual and practice, while also doing community social justice work. “I wanted to speak to their hearts and minds,” Brous said, “to call for an integration of the spiritual, social, political and emotional self.”
Today, IKAR is one of the largest and most vibrant Jewish communities in the country, fighting for social justice and supporting marginalized communities both at home and abroad.
Incorporating a culture of fostering and adoption advocacy is a natural fit for IKAR, whose cohort has swiftly embraced families throughout the community.
Creating families via foster care and adoption can sometimes feel overwhelming, and caring for caregivers is one of the crucial ways that the IKAR cohort helps families grow and thrive. Whether it’s connecting stressed-out parents to necessary services or helping a new foster youth transition into her new home, the IKAR cohort shows up.
When one set of foster parents in the IKAR community brought home their teenage foster daughter during the holidays, they leaned on Second Nurture and the cohort to help make her feel welcome, seen, and loved. Second Nurture helped them think through gifts for a gift basket, and when their daughter opened her basket and saw the thoughtful, personal gifts that had been gathered for her, she screamed with joy. The family received matching slippers for mom, dad, and daughter, and were able to mark their first holiday together with the support of their community.
Claira and Jen Bailey-Guerra say that Second Nurture has helped them to not just survive the challenges of fostering, but to thrive and give back. “We come to Second Nurture support groups because we know that ‘it takes a village’ means more than just caring for the child; it also means caring for the child's caretakers. Having a caring circle of peers, embedded in our own faith community, gives us the opportunity to provide that support to others and to imagine moving into a fostering role with open eyes and a bit less fear.”
Fellow cohort member Casey Raymond agrees: “Fostering gives us the opportunity to build family and community in Los Angeles, whether our foster child is with us for a short time or over a lifetime.”