Back to School | East Bay JCC starts new tot programs in Berkeley, Oakland

Starting this fall, East Bay parents with little ones will have more opportunities for play, Jewish education and music when Perachim, a new toddler and parent group, launches at both the Berkeley and Oakland branches of the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay.

Perachim, meaning “flowers” in Hebrew, is a weekly toddler-parent group open to children from 12 to 24 months old and their parents. The program is designed to help motivate  curiosity and develop motor skills through art, storytelling, interactive games and more. In Oakland, the fall session will take place on Mondays from 9:30 to 11 a.m. beginning Sept. 16; in Berkeley, Fridays from 9:30 to 11 a.m., beginning Sept. 20.

The expansion grew out of an obvious need for more programming around this age group, said Ruth Petersen Shorer, director of early childhood education at the JCC. “Our preschool serves children ages 2 to 5, and of the about 65 families that make that up, a significant number of them are having second or third babies while they have one in preschool — we have six to 10 babies born every year,” she said.

Perachim Oakland will be led by Rinat Yellin, a musician and certified music and movement therapist. An Israeli native, Yellin has worked with young children in educational settings for more than 10 years, including developing a program aimed at easing trauma for small children with special needs. She has also taught at the JCC preschool. Since that class is on Mondays, it will include a Havdallah celebration with the kids, said Shorer.

Perachim Berkeley will be led by Monika Clark, a former JCC of the East Bay preschool teacher who taught at the school for eight years and has worked professionally with children from infancy through kindergarten. That class will include a Shabbat celebration, and the toddlers can join the preschool-age kids in making challah.

For more information or to register, visit or email Ruth Petersen Shorer at [email protected]