Jessica Fink, 37, has a bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Florida in Gainesville, a master’s in elementary education from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and a master’s in library and information science from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. And she may still want to go back to school one day to pursue a doctorate.
Fink is the librarian at the Macks Center for Jewish Education and a member of Beth Tfiloh Congregation. She lives in Mount Washington with her husband, Steve, who works for CBS and StudyFinds.org, and her kids, Ruby, 7, and Jaret, 6, who attend Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.
In addition to being a working parent during the pandemic, Fink also helps her neighbors get challah for Shabbat. It started right at the beginning of the pandemic, when she learned that Pariser’s Bakery delivered challah. She asked members of her neighborhood Facebook group if they wanted challah as well, and she got lots of interest. Now, she organizes challah deliveries and contactless pick-ups.
What made you interested in becoming a librarian?
I taught for a few years, and I loved working with different ages, seeing the beginning and all the way up to the end. I taught pre-K, and I also taught for the SATs in the evenings for Kaplan in Philly, and I worked with high schoolers. I just really enjoyed working with everyone. I just thought that comprehension and some reading skills were really lacking, and I think that it stems a lot from a motivation to read. I just wanted to get out into the community and really help children have a love of reading and become lifelong learners to help them along their journey of education, rather than just stopping at one grade level.
How does your challah delivery work?
I put it on our Facebook page Thursday night or Friday morning, “Who wants challah from Pariser’s?” They will drop off the box. There were some weeks where there were little glitches, like the squirrels got into the box and we lost a few, so now we have a tub that’s designated so people have to open and close it. I assume they wash their hands after that, but everything is contactless in a sense. They send my husband the Venmo for the $4 for the challah, and then they come to our porch and pick up the challah.
I felt like some people who might typically get challah at their children’s preschool in the beginning, or at the JCC on a Friday, weren’t having that opportunity, and I didn’t want them to not have some sort of Shabbat experience or challah experience because it wasn’t convenient for them, so I tried to make it really convenient.
Do you have any advice for other working parents trying to balance all of their responsibilities during the pandemic?
When we all got put into this situation in the springtime, my kids didn’t have any sort of devices or electronics they were used to at home, so they were unfamiliar with it. They had to learn it. What I realized after that experience for the school year, if you’re going to start virtual, I was going to go slow with them and take a little bit of time off from work so I would have more patience. I felt like if I had more patience, I could see what they really needed to be able to adjust [to] things. … My advice to other parents [is] think and watch and see what your kids need to help them become independent. … Each little thing I do makes an effect, and it’s amazing to see it and see how independent they’ve become.