Chana Cotlar moved to Cary only three months ago so her husband could become executive director of the Chabad of Cary Learning Center.
As soon as all the boxes were unpacked, Cotlar began looking around for other moms in the area, for herself and her young daughter.
"She's a real social butterfly," she said of her 16-month-old. "I thought 'Hey, why don't we start a Mommy and Me with a Jewish Twist.'"
Cotlar, who is expecting a second child this fall, is a former preschool teacher and director and says she's passionate about early childhood education. She wanted to create a place where moms could network and get to know each other, but also provide educational programs for the kids and moms. The program caters to kids ages 3 months to 3 years.
She created a center-based activity room with different areas where the kids can explore, including an outdoor sensory area, a library and a dramatic play area. There's even a special section for infants with a baby gym, bouncers and push toys.
The hour-long program begins with free play time and always includes a Jewish theme. Recently, it was I Love Israel Day where cities across Israel were highlighted with different activities for the kids. After 30 minutes, there are group songs, bubbles and an activity. The activity might be a craft with the kids or a guest speaker talking about baby massage, for instance.
"It's really a lovely, relaxed program, but the children have a chance to learn, relax and explore in a fun way and a Jewish twist," she told me.
Cotlar has held one session of six classes so far. The next session will begin Aug. 25 with programs on four consecutive Wednesday mornings from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. But Cotlar said she's interested in holding the program throughout the summer if enough moms are interested.
She offers a free complimentary session. After that it's $7 per class or $21 if you sign up for the four-week session that starts Aug. 25.
If you're interested in the August session or would be interested in attending a summer session, contact Cotlar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-651-9710.
And you can learn more about Mommy and Me with a Jewish Twist, including photos and video, at the Chabad of Cary's website. It meets at 909 Reedy Creek Rd. in Cary.