Rachel Wool-Bernstein is our new Family Engagement Manager here at the J––and we absolutely love her!
Along with her fabulous personality and welcoming attitude, Rachel is a mother to two adorable little boys, Ronen (3) and Felix (eight months). We sat down to highlight her experience with Family Engagement programs, and what she plans to bring to the table as she takes on this new position.
Are you originally from Colorado? Where are you from?
Rachel Wool: I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. I love and miss the desert, cactus, and the pink sunsets but I have been in Denver for almost 15 years so this is now home. I came out to Denver for school and despite trying out New York for a bit and moving back home for a bit, I have always continually come back to Denver.
What’s your partner’s name/what do they do?
RW: My husband’s name is Ethan and he is a Broadcast Engineer for Game Creek Audio Visual. They provide mobile TV trucks for major sporting events. He is currently in Portland, OR for the next few weeks working on the NBA Western Conference.
How did you become interested in Family Engagement? What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
RW: I have worked in nonprofits for the past 10 years and have done a mixture of development, communications, and programming. After having children I realized the enormous value in well run and meaningful programming for the benefit of a family. My passion is truly in supporting people and finding creative solutions so getting the chance to create programs for families is a way to combine all of my strengths and passions!
Has the JCC always been a part of your life? What programs do you and your family partake in here at the J?
RW: I grew up going to the JCC in Tucson. I have so many fond memories of baking challah, hanging at the pool, and being a part of the community there. When my husband and I got married we started getting involved with the JCC Denver. We did Jewish Baby University four years ago when we were pregnant with our older son and that experience changed our family’s trajectory. We made some amazing friends, set goals for our family that we had not even been considering, and learned so much from that experience. Since my older son was born I have participated in almost every young child offering the J has to offer!
What’s you and your family’s favorite thing to do outside of work?
RW: Before kids we loved watching live music, hiking, and taking the dogs on long walks. Now our activities are really centered around our children and what they enjoy doing. Luckily our older son absolutely loves music so we are always looking for live music that is appropriate for children. Because my husband travels for work we have been very lucky to do a lot of traveling as a family and we love exploring new places.
How does Family Engagement Programming help strengthen our JCC community?
RW: The priorities you set in place when your children are young heavily impact the priorities you will carry through your child’s life and what they in turn will place importance on. I think providing families a space to connect as a community and bond as a family through Judaica-themed activities and creative opportunities allows parents the chance to easily prioritize Jewish community and pursuing passions. For example, I am not very good at coming up with fun art projects for my children, and I hate getting the painting supplies out on my wood dining room table, so I love that the J provides a space for my child to be creative with an instructor who is so talented at being able to guide him to new experiences while letting him find what he is excited about.
I want my children to build lifelong friendships in these walls so that after they have left home they always have a place to come back to that feels a bit like home. I think most parents are searching for a place for their kids to be exposed to new activities and build meaningful relationships with other families when they are looking at family goings-on and I am so excited that I have a small part in helping to create that here at the JCC Denver.
Who are Family Engagement programs for?
RW: Family engagement is for everyone! However, I am focused on newly forming families (parents expecting a child who can participate in Jewish Baby University) up to around age 5 or 6 when those kids can transition into the amazing Camp Shai. My goal is to have a program that fits every family’s needs and situation, whether it be a certain class, a parent education series, or just the chance to connect with someone else. Please reach out and tell me what you want from family engagement.
What’s your life motto?
RW: Find the joy.
What’s a fun fact about yourself that might surprise some people?
RW: I graduated with a concentration in Yiddish Literature and while I think I have abandoned my dreams of getting to work solely in Yiddish short stories, I still find a way to connect this passion with almost everything I do.