Sign In Forgot Password


Home | Gan HaYeled | Gan HaMishpacha | Gan HaNeshama | Gan HaTeva | Meet the Gan | Gan Spaces

A Family Center Embracing Children, Families, and Caregivers Through the Early Years

About | Weekly Programming | Registration & Program Descriptions | Meet the Team 


Starting and raising a family is one of life’s greatest joys.  With this joy and responsibility comes the need for support and community; we invite you to join us. Our new Family Center is a home for parents, children, and caregivers.  We aim to create a safe space for exploration, discussion, and growth by focusing on the entirety of the family using the familiar Adas Israel values of shalom bayit (domestic harmony), mishpacha (family), kavod (respect), k’hillah (community), and ahavah (love). Contact Darci Lewis, MA, DONA PCP, Gan Assistant Director, for additional information.

"There are many ways to make a family." -- Parent Group Participant

Family Center, Room 217

Playgroups, Room 216

Family Library, Room 215

Gather here for parent groups (e.g., our prenatal and postpartum groups) and other areas of support. This room is designed to have a "living room feel," to allow for adult conversation while staying child-friendly.

Engage with our educators and other families for adult-and-me classes, including infant play and other Kangaroo classes. This room is specifically tailored to our youngest children.

Explore our expansive 6,000+ book collection. This lending library enhances the experience of each Gan classroom and will be available for families to peruse on their own. 

"Parenting is being ready and present for the today." -- Parent Group Participant

Back to top


In-person programming will follow relevant group-size restrictions under DC COVID-19 orders from the Mayor's Office as well as policies from Adas Israel's Medical Task Force. 

Click here to read the Gan's COVID-19 Policies and Procedures.

Gan HaMishpacha will follow a seasonal calendar for the 2021-2022 school year:


Fall 2021

October 4 through December 17


Winter 2022

January 10 through March 25


Spring 2022

March 28 through June 10


Prenatal groups will follow an abbreviated schedule. 


Pre-registration is now available for Fall 2021 programming. Registration will be confirmed over the summer months pursuant to relevant Mayor's Orders for the District of Columbia and Adas Israel's Medical Task Force policies. 

NEW Havurah Cohort Program 
Click here for more information

A havurah is a friendship group between families, a tight-knit k'hilla (community). Our Havurah program is designed to connect famlies with children of similar ages so they can move through their early years at Adas together. Families who participate in any Gan program, school, or class are invited to join!

Prenatal Group 
Fridays, 10:00 - 11:00am, led by Darci Lewis
Click here to register

These groups are designed for parents who are preparing to welcome a baby into their family. This group focuses on the preparatory stage, what to expect after your baby arrives, and everything in between. This group creates a supportive cohort of parents (both first-time parents and parents with more than one child), a space where all questions are welcome, and connections with peers. Sessions will take place over Zoom or in person, based on cohort preference. Each cohort is designed by Darci and participants to best meet the needs of the group. Prenatal groups are four week sessions that lead into a postpartum group.

Postpartum Group 
Wednesdays, 10:00 - 11:00am, led by Darci Lewis
Click here to register

These groups are for families who have just welcomed a baby into their family. There will be opportunities for discussions around all things postpartum as well as time for practical questions and answers. We will create an intentional community, a safe space for sharing and discussion, and provide practical, applicable information that can ease the experience of life with a new baby.

Dad/Partner Drop-In Group
Tuesdays, 9:00-10:00am, led by Darci Lewis
Drop-in any time (space-dependent) or register here 

Partners play an important role when welcoming a new baby into the family, providing essential support and care. This group provides a place to connect, ask questions, and learn about the postpartum and infant periods. All partners (and babies) are welcome to attend. 

Lifecycle Events 

After your baby joins the family, introduce them to the Jewish people! Visit this page to find out more about baby namings, brit milah, and kiddush celebrations at Adas Israel Congregation. Adas's clergy and ritual teams look forward to welcoming your new addition!

Kangaroo Series: 

Our Kangaroo class series brings children and their adults (parents or caregivers) together with our educators to create a loving, warm group space. Children benefit from the presence of a secure attachment with their parent or caregiver while at the same time being introduced to new materials, play-ideas, and class routines. Kangaroo classes begin as a child's first exposure to intentional socialization; as children grow the class becomes an ideal stepping-stone into Gan HaYeled or other preschool experiences.

Age ranges are approximate and refer to the child's age at the beginning of the program.

Kangaroo: Baby & Me (Infants, six to 12 months old)
Mondays, 9:30-10:30am, led by Darci Lewis
Click here to register

Kangaroo: Toddlers on the Move (Crawlers and walkers, 12-18 months old)
Fridays, 9:00-10:30am, led by Dale Sorcher
Click here to register

Kangaroo: Not Quite Nursery (18-24 months old, accompanied by a parent)
Mondays, 9:00-10:30am, led by Dale Sorcher
Click here to register

Kangaroo: Not Quite Nursery (18-24 months old, accompanied by a caregiver)
Mondays, 10:45am-12:15pm, led by Dale Sorcher
Click here to register

Shir a Song Music Class with Ms. Ellie
Thursdays, 9:30 - 10:15am or 10:30 - 11:15am
Click here to register

These classes for children and their grown-up(s) aim to fuse popular secular songs with fun Shabbat and Jewish holiday songs. We use finger plays, instruments and other props, dance and movement to create a lively, musical community for the 45 minutes of class, enabling you to expose your little one to a rich variety of rhythms and sounds. You will also leave class with a repertoire of songs – both Jewish and secular – that you and your child can continue to sing together, long after class is over! You do NOT need any Jewish background or any Hebrew knowledge to participate — just bring your enthusiasm and your singing voice and your dancing feet! 

Sing 'N Play Story Time 
Thursdays, 9:00 - 10:00am, led by Robin Jacobson
Drop in anytime (space-dependent) or register here

Adas Librarian Robin Jacobson facilitates our long-running story and music program for babies and toddlers and their grown-ups As a cozy group, we read/sing a series of "singing books" (such as The Teddy Bears' Picnic and Puff the Magic Dragon) followed by a period of free play where children and their adults enjoy blocks, puzzles, and other toys. 

Kabbalat Shabbat for Families with Young Children 

Starting in October 2021, we will resume our monthly Kabbalat Shabbat services for families with young children on the third Friday of every month. When the public health context permits, we will bring back our popular Happy Half-Hour and catered Shabbat dinner. Contact Jocelyn Dorfman with any questions.

Gan HaMischpacha is one leg of your family's Jewish journey at Adas Israel Congregation. Continue with us through Gan HaYeled Preschool, the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Religious School, B'nai Mitzvah celebrations, and beyond. 

We value your ideas. Do you want to engage with us in a way you don't see here? Reach out to Darci Lewis

Back to top


Darci Lewis, M.A., DONA PCP, Gan HaYeled Assistant Director & Curriculum Specialist
Darci has had a wide array of experiences within the field of Jewish Early Childhood Education. She has degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, having earned an M.A. in Jewish Communal Education. Darci is also a DONA-Certified Postpartum Doula. Her work as a Postpartum Doula connects her with families during their prenatal and postpartum time. Through prenatal classes, postpartum groups, and in-person support.

Darci is passionate about progressive values-based early childhood education. She has travelled to Reggio Emilia, Italy several times, attending Study Institutes and visiting their world-renowned schools. She believes all children deserve to be treated as competent, capable, and creative individuals. 

Dale Sorcher, MSW, Kangaroo Teacher
Biography coming soon

Robin Jacobson, Adas Israel Librarian
Robin has been with Adas since 2011. Robin's work combines her two favorite interests: people and books. In addition to running the synagogue's library, she creates children's literacy programs in partnership with the Gan and Religious School. For adults, she facilitates a popular book club, organizes author events, and reviews books for Adas online and print publications.

Ellie Moses Schuchman, Music Specialist
Ms. Ellie is the founder and lead teacher of Ms. Ellie Music, LLC.  She was trained by Music Together LLC, in 2006 and has been involved in early childhood music ever since.  She is the music specialist at Ohr Kodesh Early Childhood Center (ECC), Tikvat Israel ECC, and Sherman ECC at Har Shalom, bringing more music into the classrooms and leading weekly Shabbat singalongs, Havdalah, as well as holiday celebrations.  She also leads Tot Shabbat Friday night and Saturday morning services locally at Adat Shalom Congregation as well as for other groups in DC and New York. 

Prior to her involvement in early childhood music, Ellie worked as a licensed clinical social worker with children and their families in various school-based and mental health settings.  She has a BA in Psychology from Clark University and a MS in Social Work from Columbia University.  She grew up in Takoma Park, MD, and was an active member of Habonim Dror and Camp Moshava, where she first developed her love of and ruach (spirit, in Hebrewfor singing and dancing as a camper, and then for many years, as a counselor and assistant camp director.

Jocelyn Dorfman, M.Ed., Families with Young Children Engagement Coordinator
Gan Operations Manager

Jocelyn has been at Adas Israel since August 2017. A native Washingtonian who grew up across the river in Arlington, Jocelyn attended Brandeis University for her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Women’s & Gender Studies and holds a Master of Education in Counseling (Boston University) and a Master of Science in Psychology (University of North Texas).

Jocelyn has worked with young children in many different settings throughout her educational and professional careers and is passionate about providing children and their families meaningful and joyful experiences, meeting children where they are, and partnering with families to establish a life-long love of learning. Her absolute favorite activities with children are reading books, building, and anything that involves getting messy. 


Sat, September 18 2021 12 Tishrei 5782