Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week, time for CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law*. This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Northbrook mama of two little cuties and Associate Vice President, marketing and communications with Jewish United Fund (JUF), Stefanie Pervos Bregman. Stef tells us about her favorite local hang outs, a few personal milestones that she’s pretty proud of (including 15 years at JUF) and how JUF’s programs like PJ Library and JUF Right Start are making huge positive impacts in our local Jewish communities. Welcome, Stefanie Bregman!
Hi Stef! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now?
Hi, Chicago North Shore Moms—I’m Stefanie Pervos Bregman! I grew up in Buffalo Grove and my husband Mike grew up in Skokie, so we met in the middle and landed in Northbrook. We moved here about five years ago from the Southport Corridor (still my favorite part of the city!) when our oldest was about one. We love living in the ‘burbs with young kids—the parks, the great schools and being so close to family and friends.
How many kids do you have and how old are they? Feel free to brag here.
We have two amazing little guys—Zachary and Jordy. Zachary is 6 and just started kindergarten—he’s a sweetheart and a reading superstar who loves music, Nintendo and his friends. Jordy is 2.5—he’s a comedian who keeps us on our toes as only a two-year-old can! He loves cars, Blippi, chocolate chips and his big brother.
Our first baby is our 10-year-old bichon poodle, Bialy.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
In high school I worked for a DJ company as a Bar Mitzvah/school party dancer and was also in a hip hop dance group that performed all over the city!
What are your favorite local places to spend with the family?
We are very loyal to Grill House and Wildfire, love to order in tacos from Fat Rosie’s on Friday nights and recently discovered Fred’s Garage in Winnetka-their patio is amazing and the mini hotdogs are always a big hit!
We spend a lot of time at Wood Oaks Park in Northbrook (and we love really any and all parks!) and my little guys love the model railroad at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Lately we’ve been exploring a bit further from home, and have had some lovely mornings at the Lakefront Park in Glencoe (great views and a nice playground for young kids!) and the Captain Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve in Mettawa (great for fall foliage!).
Do you personally have any big milestones coming up?
Well, my husband and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary this summer (with a lovely dinner out at Stefani Prime in Lincolnwood—not the weeklong vacation in Maui I’d always imagined, but still nice!)
Also, our oldest starting kindergarten feels like a big milestone — it has been awesome to watch him grow and flourish in a new environment.
Please tell us more about your role at Jewish United Fund (JUF). How has JUF played a role on the North Shore?
My pleasure! I am the Associate Vice President, marketing and communications and I’ve been here almost 15 years.
You may be surprised to learn that JUF is one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the country, serving 500,000 people of all faiths in Chicago and millions more in Israel and around the world.
Thanks to the generous support of the community, JUF and its partner agencies can continue to be a lifeline for Chicagoans in need—and that includes those living on the North Shore—while providing safe avenues for connection to Jewish life.
In response to the pandemic, JUF provided more than $21 million in COVID emergency grants to over 100 local agencies and schools so they could maintain services and remain open safely. As the pandemic continues, those funds enable JUF to help provide financial aid, food, health care and expand crucial mental health services.
Antisemitism is on the rise in the United States and we’ve seen examples of that in our local communities. How has JUF responded to this?
Yes, that’s right. When antisemitism hit close to home (as some of you may have seen or experienced even in our own local moms Facebook groups), JUF fought back against the hatred in virtual and in-person spaces to foster a sense of safety for Jews in Chicago and beyond. And through all of this, JUF continued with the work we do every year to create Jewish community.
JUF is vast. What are a few services that resonate with local Jewish families in our community?
Absolutely! Our work includes sending free monthly books to more than 11,000 children through PJ Library and PJ Our Way, welcoming new babies and their parents into the community through jBaby Chicago, distributing JUF Right Start vouchers to make Jewish preschool more accessible and helping more than 700 kids get to summer camp through scholarships and grants.
And we couldn’t do any of this without the support of this community—so thank you, thank you, thank you!
Speaking of scholarships and grants, please tell us about the new scholarship initiatives that JUF would like our audience to know about.
Did you know that there are 36 Jewish early childhood centers throughout Chicagoland? And while they all provide unique experiences in terms of location, hours and programming, each school helps build a strong academic foundation while nurturing to your family’s values.
JUF Right Start was created to increase awareness and access to Jewish early childhood programs for Chicago-area families by providing a tuition discount to eligible children attending a Jewish program for the first time.
For the 2022-23 school year, JUF Right Start is expanding: Families receiving the full Federal Child Tax Credit may be eligible for matching funds, with a savings of up to $7,200 on a Jewish early childhood program.
Families who do not qualify for the Child Tax Credit may still qualify to receive a JUF Right Start voucher of up to $2,000. It’s definitely worth checking out.
How has your children’s preschool experience been impacted by sending them to a Jewish preschool, especially during the pandemic?
My family would not have made it through the past 18+ months without our Jewish preschool—Moriah Early Childhood Center in Deerfield. Even through their masks, our kids are engaging with friends, celebrating Shabbat, learning about Jewish traditions and getting the chance to just be kids—and I’m so grateful.
That’s really super helpful, and what a unique program! How do parents start using this service?
The Preschool Concierge makes the process of learning about Jewish early childhood programs in Chicagoland easy. Call 312-357-4967 or email [email protected] and expect to hear back within 24 hours during normal business hours.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about JUF that they typically do not know about?
Yes! As you probably know, Giving Tuesday is coming up later this month—and it happens to fall on the third night of Chanukah! We’d certainly love it if you would consider giving back that day in honor of your kiddos (one less gift to buy, right?) by making a donation. And every dollar that comes in that day will be matched—doubling your impact!
And…. I want to make sure that everyone knows about JUF’s Chanukah Coat Club — A gift of $18 will give a local child in need a new coat and accessories to brave the winter. The gift can be made in honor of someone special in your life who will receive a personalized Chanukah card announcing your gift. It’s a perfect gift for a teacher, grandchild or as a classroom tzedakah project. I always do this for my sons as a gift for one night of Chanukah. Learn more at JUF.org/Chanukah—you can sign up through Nov. 5!
Lastly, I hope you’ll check out our wonderful JUF Young Families programs (JUF.org/YoungFamilies)—there’s literally something for everyone and it’s amazing to connect with moms and families who are at the same stage of their parenting journeys.
Thanks again for taking the time to learn more about JUF!
About CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm. Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here!