When my kids were little, we lived in a small town in Israel. I spent almost every afternoon in the playground at the end of our street, hanging out with other moms as we watched our kids on the swings or in the sandbox. That’s where we shared parenting advice, asked about babysitters, offered up used clothes or toys and scheduled play dates.
Meet the playground bench of the digital age – Arizona Jewish Moms.
Just a little over a year ago, Dina Bacharach started this Facebook group to provide a network for moms to “share anything and everything about being a Jewish mom in Arizona.” The group already has more than 400 members and Dina says she gets requests to join daily.
“It’s a great way to unite all the different moms out there in the community, regardless of synagogue affiliation or background or observance. Just to connect as a Jewish mom,” says Dina, who moved to the Valley three years ago when her husband, Rabbi Don Bacharach, assumed leadership of the Phoenix Community Kollel. She says the group is very diverse, creating friendships among women who say they would never have met without this forum. It’s also a great resource for expectant moms and mothers moving to Arizona, who naturally have lots of questions.
The main focus is moms helping out other moms – answering questions, sharing information, providing referrals and suggesting kid-friendly activities. “It builds a strong community feeling,” says Dina. “I find a lot of kindness going on in this group, which has been really, really wonderful.”
When someone joins the group, Dina encourages them to introduce themselves. Often friendships are born as women realize they come from the same city or have children the same age.
Dina screens out requests from vendors, so that the page does not become a portal for pitching products and services. “That takes away from the whole point of it. People are not interested in a marketing situation. They want the community feeling,” says the 31-year-old mother of five.
However, the first Sunday of each month is “Shameless Plug Sunday,” where members are encouraged to promote their own businesses. “There are a lot of talented and creative business-oriented moms in the group. This gives them a platform to share their expertise. You can post your business card, your website or other information. It gives moms an opportunity to share a little bit more about themselves and, as a friend, to share what they do. People really enjoy being able to do that,” Dina says.
She points out that as the group grows, people become more comfortable sharing information. “They realize it’s a safe environment to post things. … Even though we might live in different parts of Arizona, different backgrounds, different observance, there’s always what to connect to with each other,” she says.
Find Arizona Jewish Moms at facebook.com/groups/azjewishmoms.