Being a mother in a community full of thousands of women with children can, ironically, be a very isolating experience. One woman from Crown Heights took the onus upon herself to do something about it.
By: Anash.org reporter
For years, women raising children in Crown Heights were surrounded by thousands of other mothers just like them, but many felt like they were at it alone.
For an average mother in Crown Heights, there is a lot of time she is raising her children on her own. Things like the long months of cold weather and the absence of public child-friendly spaces to go to locally, really create a culture of isolation and sometimes loneliness for many Crown Heights mothers.
The experience of motherhood, is an exhilarating, intense, exhausting, and mainly uninterrupted one, for a large chunk of years for many women. Having a strong support system from the people who are intimately aware of what they’re going through, is a key factor in the happiness and success of their parenting.
Over the years, there were resources slowly being offered, and organizations being created to support the mothers of Crown Heights, but there was still no cohesive place to access all that was available. Mainly, there was no physical space to go to and celebrate the joys and challenges of motherhood.
When Mrs. Mushka Leiter saw that there was no virtual place to access the various resources available to women, she created the website MothersOfCrownHeights.org. The website began as a compilation of everything available to the mothers in Crown Heights, from when a woman was expecting through birth and postpartum.
The website has lists of doctor referrals, phone numbers to any type of health practitioner a family might need, resources for those struggling with mental health issues, gemachs for everything- from bris pillows to noise cancelling headphones, indoor play places all over Brooklyn, and tons of help for mothers before and after giving birth.
“The website was getting a thousand views a month, and I kept hearing from grateful mothers how helpful it was,” shares Mrs. Leiter. “The more the website grew, and the more I heard directly from the women, the more keenly I felt how sorely the community was lacking a physical space for mothers to gather and commune in.”
Hence, the dream of Miriam’s Motherhood Center came into being three years ago. It would be a place for mothers to find their village. There would be a playroom, there would be educational courses and movement classes, and most of all, there would be friendship.
“The initial planning stage began two years ago. It would be a place for mothers to find their village. There would be a playroom, there would be educational courses and movement classes, and most of all, there would be community,” Mrs. Leiter said.
“The initial planning stage began three years ago. My husband and I spent over a year finding the right space, renovating, and fundraising to open the center,” she said. “We named it after my grandmother, Mrs. Miriam Friedman, of blessed memory, who had recently passed away and was a proud mother to many wonderful children role model to so many.”
Two short years ago, the center opened to the public. It has a beautiful state-of-the-art playroom for mothers who can spend time there meeting others and bring their young children four and under to play in. The room is open every day, all day, and is exclusively for children who come with their mothers.
Devorah Tamir, a mother from Crown Heights, began frequenting the center and found in it a haven.
“I want to thank you for all you do at Miriam’s Motherhood Center,” she said. “It’s been the missing piece in my life since becoming a mother, and I’m truly grateful to have this space and the opportunities that come with it.
Another integral part of the program is the extensive education it provides to women about every stage of parenthood. There are courses on Taharas Hamishpacha, monthly childbirth education classes, postpartum support groups, CPR refresher classes, and shiurim on various Torah subjects.
“We also offer Mommy & Me, and Music & Movement weekly events where women can come with their infants and toddlers and spend an enjoyable and relaxing time in the company of other adults. The kids have playmates, the mothers have a group of peers at the same stage as they are, and everyone has a really nice time,” says Mrs. Leiter.
Aside for the playroom, the center is equipped with a studio that hosts multiple exercise classes. The classes offer babysitting on site for the women attending and range from Pilates, to core strengthening, to yoga classes.
Another integral part of the program is the extensive education it provides to women about every stage of parenthood. There are courses on Taharas Hamishpacha, pre and post natal classes, CPR refreshers, and shiurim on various Torah subjects.
“I came with a friend to join an exercise class, and was amazed by the list of other courses and classes I saw listed there,” shares Shulamis Greenberg, another participant. “I saw the schedule and told my friend I want to come to every thing!”
It’s such a relief for a mother to know she always has a welcoming place she can bundle her kids up and go to when she needs to go out and see the world a bit. It makes her whole day brighter.
Currently, the center is filled with over 130 women each week over the various programs and open-play it offers.
Recently, a few women from the surrounding neighborhoods came and saw Miriam’s Motherhood Center and knew they wanted something like that in their community as well. The idea is traveling fast, and with Hashem’s help, the vision of one woman from Crown Heights will be inspiring the opening of such centers in every Jewish community around the world.
Every new Neshama that we bring down to this world brings the Geula closer, so what can be a greater merit than to support the army of mothers that raise these precious souls?
Miraiam’s Motherhood Center is located at 781 East New York Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203. To view the monthly calendar of classes it offers, you can visit www.mothersofcrownheights.com and to support the organization you can donate here.
Highlighting Our Own is an Anash.org column that highlights our community’s wonderful initiatives and projects.
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