When Washington designer Connie G. Krupin, 56, was a new mom, she used Wite-Out to cover up “Baby’s First Christmas” in her baby book. She took markers and drew in menorahs and stars. Finally, she looked at her baby daughter, Alisa, and promised, “One day, I’ll write a baby book for us.”
But life got in the way. Daughter Alisa was followed by a son, Steven. A career as a furniture designer and interior decorator filled time that wasn’t spent on family. The dream of a Jewish baby book sat unrealized.
Until 2009, when now grownup Alisa announced, “Guess what?” And Krupin had a new goal: create a Jewish baby book in time for her first grandchild. This past May, soon after Alisa’s second child was born, Krupin published “A Time to Be Born: A Jewish Baby Journal.”
Born in New York to parents who were first-generation Americans, Krupin often heard Yiddish spoken at home.
We see this influence on pages like “Shayna Punim.” She explained that her parents raised her with a feeling that “Judaism is part of life and heart.”
As she worked on the book, she shared pages with friends who encouraged her to make it available for everyone: “You need to publish this. We need this.”
And we truly do. There is something about turning the pages of her gorgeous memory book and seeing Hebrew blessings nestled among her original pastel illustrations. And being able to fill in lines left open for baby’s first Chanukah and her Hebrew name.
Local readers will recognize the names of area educators and rabbis whom Krupin asked to contribute quotes and blessings. She consulted with rabbis from the full range of Judaism — “from Lubavitch to Ultra-Reform” — to make certain every family could connect.
Quotes from ancient and modern sources line each page, from Talmud to Gilda Radner to local children. Recipes for challah and chicken soup and blessings over the candles and children surround pages for the reader to fill with Shabbat memories.
The book is divided into nine chapters, from birth through the first five birthdays, with plenty of pages to record the basics — baby’s length, weight, what the world was like when baby was born and baby’s first words and milestones.
It’s Krupin’s art that makes this book one any parent would cherish. “Every portrait is a self-portrait,” she explained. “Each reflects the love of Judaism and family.”
The illustrations add the heart. One such is a pastel of Sam Fagin kissing the keppie of his newborn great-grandson on the occasion of the baby’s bris. Fagin was presented with a copy of “A Time to Be Born” on his 90th birthday, when his daughter-in-law showed him the portrait and said, “Pop, you’re immortal.”
Fagin passed away a week later.
Filled with heart and created with love, “A Time to Be Born: A Jewish Baby Journal” needs to find a space in every Jewish home.