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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

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

Gan HaMishpacha will follow a seasonal calendar:


Winter 2023


January 9 through March 6
         There will be no programming on the following dates in
          holiday observance
                  - January 26 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day
                  - February 20 - Presidents Day


Spring 2023



March 20 through May 27
         There will be no programming on the following dates in
          holiday observance
                  - April 5-13


Prenatal groups will follow an abbreviated schedule. 




Kangaroos: Not Quite Nursery
   Led by Dale Sorcher in Room 216






Postpartum Parent Group
   Led by Darci Lewis in Room 217





Shir a Song with Ms. Ellie
   Led by Ms. Ellie in Funger Hall

9:30-10:15am or





Kangaroos: Toddlers on the Move
   Led by Dale Sorcher in Room 216



Prenatal Parent Group
   Led by Darci Lewis in Room 217




   2023 Registration NOW OPEN!

NEW Havurah Cohort Program 
Click here for more information
Please email Darci Lewis for information on joining a Havurah

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, 10:30 - 11:30am, led by Darci Lewis
Click here to register for one of our Winter/Spring 2023 Prenatal Groups

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 three week sessions that lead into a postpartum group.

Postpartum Group 
Wednesdays, 10:00 - 11:00am, led by Darci Lewis
Click here to register for our Winter 2023 Postpartum group

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.

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 by September 30, 2022. Your child would continue in the same group for the 2022-2023 school year.

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 for sessions starting Winter 2023

Kangaroo: Not Quite Nursery (18-24 months old)
Mondays, 9:00-10:30am, led by Dale Sorcher
Click here to register for sessions starting Winter 2023


Shir a Song Music Class with Ms. Ellie
Thursdays, 9:30 - 10:15am or 10:30 - 11:15am
Click here to register for sessions starting in Winter 2023

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! 

Kabbalat Shabbat for Families with Young Children 

Join Rabbi Kerrith Solomon, Adas musicians, and other families for our joyous and musical Kabbalat Shabbat service -- together.

Friday, September 16, 2022
Friday, October 21, 2022
Friday, November 18, 2022
Friday, December 16, 2022
Friday, February 17, 2023
Friday, March 17, 2023
Friday, April 21, 2023
Friday, May 19, 2023
Friday, June 16, 2023

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

Questions about registration? Reach out to our admin team.

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Darci Lewis, MA, DONA PCP (DONA), CLC, Gan HaYeled Senior Educator & Gan HaMishpacha Director
Email Darci Lewis
Darci Lewis has had a wide array of experiences within the field of Jewish Early Childhood Education and within the world of Perinatal Support throughout Washington, DC and Maryland. 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 and Lactation Consultant. 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. Currently, Darci is the Senior Educator of the Gan HaYeled at Adas Israel, and the Director of Gan HaMishpacha, the Family Center at Adas Israel.  Darci also has her own perinatal support practice--Nurture Postpartum & Family Support, through which she provides individual family support through the perinatal cycle.  Darci  consults within the community, having served as a Curriculum Specialist, Art Studio Specialist, and Professional Development Trainer for many schools and institutions, both locally and nationally. Darci also played an active role in the Pedagogista Circle of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.  Darci lives in Maryland within her husband and three children.

Dale Sorcher, MSW, Kangaroo Teacher
Dale Madden Sorcher is a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years of experience providing therapeutic services to children, adults, and families. She has experience working in various modalities, including school systems, outpatient clinics, and private practice. Dale received a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Michigan, a M.Ed. in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and a MSW in Social Work from Hunter College in New York.

Dale has been on staff with the Gan since 1996 as a facilitator of our much-beloved Kangaroo classes as well as teaching two-year-olds. She is a native Washingtonian; her family has been affiliated with Adas Israel for five generations. Dale has three adult children who are all Gan graduates. She and her husband live in Bethesda.   

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.


Wed, December 7 2022 13 Kislev 5783