As we begin 2017, I want to talk to you about "beginnings" and tell you what our Federation means when we say, "We are committed to the Jewish journey from birth to giving birth and beyond." We are invested in the next generations — and that investment starts at the beginning. We all want our children to be resilient and our families to be strong. We care about our children's development and their families' connection to an inspiring Jewish community.

Several years ago, I was at an event and I had a long conversation with psychologist, philanthropist and Federation supporter Dr. Victoria Simms. Vicki has spent a great deal of time focusing on early childhood development. She launched the Simms/Mann Institute to develop, implement and support groundbreaking initiatives that offer authentic solutions to the complex issues facing individuals, families and communities in the 21st century. She impressed upon me the need for our Jewish community to focus on early childhood.

Over a year ago, together with the Simms/Mann Institute and our partner Builders of Jewish Education (BJE), we launched a powerful pilot program — The First 36 Project. The First 36 Project provides Parent & Me facilitators at many of our synagogues' early childhood centers with cutting-edge professional development focused on state-of-the-art neuroscience research for children from birth to three years of age. This First 36 Project offers strategies so that the Parent & Me facilitators can creatively and effectively weave these cutting-edge research gems into their discussions, paving the way for healthy and emotionally resilient families.

In December, I visited one of our pilot early childhood centers. After the class, I heard a baby crying and saw a young mother's eyes focused on her child as she patiently soothed her. Her cell phone began to ring and I watched her as she ignored her phone to focus on her daughter. I looked into the room and saw the Parent & Me facilitator smiling.

We are building a strong Jewish community by helping our families raise emotionally and developmentally strong Jewish children.

To the future,

Jay Sanderson
President & CEO

Tags: From the CEO

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