Meet the Henry-Rak Family of San Francisco

PJ Library® Family of the Month

Well before becoming parents, David Rak and Oren Henry were already active and engaged members in the San Francisco Jewish community. Both are part of the Jewish Pride Fund, one of the Federation’s giving circles where members help fund organizations that work in Jewish and LGBTQ+ spaces in the Bay Area, nationally, and in Israel. David serves on the Federation’s board. And Oren, a Wexner Heritage Program alum, serves on the Keshet board to secure equality for LGBTQ+ people in all facets of Jewish life.

So naturally, when they had Maya—now 14 months old—it joyfully presented additional opportunities to broaden their circle within their community and explore their Jewish journey in new ways.

Although the couple’s path to parenthood—through surrogacy with associated twists and turns—was unique, they feel that “what makes [their] family special is that [they] are just like every other family.”

Embracing All That Jewish Life Has to Offer

David and Oren are rekindling their childhood memories while creating new ones as a family by subscribing Maya to PJ Library. Mere weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to shelter in place—PJ Library became one of the first Jewish experiences that David and Oren shared with their infant daughter, bringing much-needed delightful squeals of excitement when receiving a new book in the mail each month, while building up their home collection of Jewish texts. Both fathers love reading—and sometimes sing books with Maya on their laps so that she can share their love for Judaism and explore Jewish holidays and traditions. They recently took it a step further, celebrating her “first PJ Library book birthday!”

Early on, the two dads intentionally embraced every facet of Jewish life with baby Maya, taking advantage of the plethora of virtual programs, online gatherings, and live-streamed Shabbat and holiday services. In addition, the family became regular participants at events put on by PJ Library Bay Area, Jewish Baby Network, and their synagogue, Congregation Emanu-El.

“With no shortage of local Jewish resources, our only constraints have been time and our daughter’s nap schedule! We look forward to taking further advantage of Bay Area Jewish life, and now in-person as Maya, and hopefully, our family grows.”- David Rak

David and Oren also lead a new parents’ chavurah as part of the “B’Bayit” program at Emanu-El, designed to connect members through small affinity groups. The fathers and daughter love meeting other parents and children each month. In addition, the Jewish Baby Network has served as an excellent resource for their family, providing information, holiday treats, and connections that started before Maya was even born.

Reflecting on Their First year of Parenting Within a Welcoming Community

David and Oren both agree that they’re glad they’re continuing their participation in the Jewish community. Their partaking has enhanced their relationships both with Jewish organizations and with people in personally meaningful ways. “Jump right in; you have nothing to lose and will find how inclusive and welcoming the Bay Area Jewish community can be, no matter your knowledge or depth of connection to Judaism or how your family looks,” added Oren.

Learn about all the ways your family can participate in the spectrum of Jewish life, including PJ Library® which sends free Jewish books monthly to children through 8 years of age throughout the Bay Area.

If you would like to be featured as our Family of the Month, just fill out this form, and we will be in touch!


June 17, 2021