More than 40 donors have stepped up with cases of diapers and wipes, bulging bags of gently used baby clothing and assorted baby equipment and paraphernalia.
On June 7, Shirah Fish of Oak Park scrolled through her Facebook account, oblivious to how it would impact her next few weeks.
On the much-loved “Jewish Moms of Metro Detroit” page, she saw a post that began, “With everything that’s going on in the country right now. I want to try and show support to …”
Fish smiled, she thought she knew where this was going and that felt good. But the sentence ended not with “the Black Jewish community” as she’d expected, but with “the police.” Fish was taken aback.
“I’m not anti-police,” Fish explained. “But I felt that it wouldn’t be right to give a public show of support to the police as a group at this time.”
Fish commented that as a Black Jewish woman she was disappointed in the post and felt that, if anything, the powerful support of a group of 2,200+ Jewish moms would be better directed elsewhere.
Within minutes she was inundated with supportive comments and approximately 50 private messages from fellow J-moms who wanted to offer tangible help to the Black Lives Matter movement but didn’t know how.
“I felt like a deer caught in headlights,” Fish said. She hadn’t really thought things through at that point. But she was willing to start.
That night, she conferred with Ashira Leah Solomon and Aliza Bracha Klein and, within days, Michigan Jewish Womyn Together (MJWT) was launched. Within 24 hours, their Facebook page had over 100 members. As it was mostly made up of Jewish moms, they thought helping Black moms would be most fitting.
“The childbirth statistics for Black moms are disturbing,” Fish said.
According to the CDC, Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. The CDC also says that the rate of preterm births for Black moms is 50% higher than the rate for white moms. That particularly struck home for Fish. Of her children, Noemie, 16, Lea, 13, Hudi, 12, Rafi, 4, and twins Dassi and Zach, 1, four were born prematurely.
Fish is a single mom and can especially sympathize with the challenges of raising children while struggling financially.
“I’ve had a rough time in the last few years,” Fish said. “I know firsthand that in America, food is not an issue. There are food stamps, WIC, farmers’ markets. There’s food in abundance. But if you can’t afford diapers, then what?”
With that in mind, Fish spearheaded a baby drive. More than 40 donors immediately stepped up with 20+ cases of diapers and wipes, bulging bags of gently used baby clothing and assorted baby equipment and paraphernalia. Within one week, the storage space was full to bursting.
Fish polled the group members for which organization their donations should go to. The winner was the Lighthouse-PATH program, a transitional housing program for women and children, most of whom are fleeing domestic violence situations.
MJWT has other projects in the works, too. Noemie Fish wants to create a book for kids about diversity within the Jewish community. Ashira Leah Solomon plans on creating a cookbook interwoven with stories from recipe contributors.
“Food is a tool that brings people together,” Solomon said. “My hope is that each time we open this cookbook, we will reflect on the cherished value of people as individuals and the beauty of unification. As we modify cookbook recipes to suit our individual tastes, the hope is that we should embrace those differences that bring authenticity to our table and to our world.”
This group is just getting started, but they’re hoping to make a difference, one step at a time.
The Baby Drive is running until July 15. Donations can be dropped off or shipped to BLM Baby Drive/Shirah Fish 14611 Borgman St., Oak Park, MI 48237. For more information, call (248) 607-4549.
To contribute recipes or for more information about the cookbook, email email@example.com.