Omer Story Share: Michelle Simon

I happened upon the Trust Center, and by extension Temple Ohabei Shalom, shortly after my second son was born. My two and a half year old son was doing all the things that kids do when a new baby comes home and I knew he needed a higher quality preschool program. From my limited research, I came upon the Trust Center. It was one of the few preschools I could find with early drop off (I’m a teacher) and extended day. I had heard the name around town, but didn’t really know anything about it. So a few weeks before my maternity leave was over, I emailed Shari and made an appointment to come for a tour.

In retrospect, I think it was me having a hard time adjusting to our expanding family more than my older son. The transition from 1-2 children was harder than I could imagine. The day I walked into the Trust Center, I knew immediately that this is where I wanted my boys to go. I hadn’t realized that a Jewish education was important to me until I saw it in action. The school felt like a community with light and love. It had everything I knew was important from an early childhood education perspective. But more importantly I felt welcome and knew my son would be valued there.

As much as I love the school, I didn’t realize how much more I would get by enrolling. The Tot Shabbats and Friday night Shabbat B’yachad dinners became tradition for us. I received comfort from clergy after a family member passed away. I received support around motherhood as a solo parent from both the school and clergy. And then Covid happened and our connection grew even more important. Sing-Alongs with Josh anchored our weeks. Tot Shabbats became a special event where the kids arranged their musical instruments and chairs in the living room. Teachers from the Trust Center called for FaceTime with my boys giving me a few minutes to breath and share them with loving adults. I joined in the parent zooms in the evenings for support and connection.

I grew up in a tight-knit small Jewish community in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mother always felt like the center of it. Most of my early memories are from my time at the Jewish Federation. I had a playpen in the corner while my mother worked and was spoiled by all the Jewish Mothers and Grandmothers who came and went during the day. My mom put us to work early stuffing envelopes and coming with her to events. The Jewish Community was present in all aspects of our life. But I hadn’t found a connection within the Jewish Community after leaving home. My Jewish journey has been about giving my children the same feeling of tradition and community I was blessed to grow up with. I found that at the Trust Center and TOS.