When Marion Haberman was pregnant with her first child, like most new moms, she searched the Internet for advice. Marion learned how to choose a baby name, and how to design a nursery, but what stood out to her was there are very few Jewish mommy YouTubers.
“When I was trying to plan the bris for my son when he was born, I struggled with finding information that someone other than a rabbi might tell you — that only a parent who has been there would know — like what should I wear, when should I nurse, or what should I serve?” says Marion. “That’s when I started to see a real need.”
It’s also when the idea for Marion’s popular YouTube channel, My Jewish Mommy Life, was born. She launched the channel in the summer of 2017 and has grown to 15,000 subscribers since. Marion’s impact in both the Jewish and secular worlds led to the USCJ recognizing her with the 2019 Shoshana S. Cardin Award.
“Being a Cardin Award winner is, for me, the ultimate recognition that the Jewish community is supportive of what I do,” says Marion. “That was the goal when I started this — for organizations to recognize that social media is a big part of the answer to what’s next for Judaism.”
Marion’s Jewish upbringing played a crucial role in her journey to YouTube success. Growing up in Los Angeles, her mom enrolled her in Jewish day school at Valley Beth Shalom and Heschel as well as Jewish summer camp at Camp JCA Shalom. She also participated in Kadima. “The summer going into high school, I had no plans, so my mom signed me up for Far West on Wheels,” Marion recalls. “My mom knew if I went on Wheels, I would love it. As a result, all my friends in high school were from USY.” This passion continued in college, where Marion got involved in Hillel and studied abroad in Israel.
After graduating from school and moving to Washington, D.C., on her own, Marion took a pause. She was no longer involved in a day-to-day way with her Jewish friends or a synagogue. “Judaism wasn’t a big part of my life except for on holidays,” she says. “Then, I got married and reconnected with the rabbi who married us. Later, my husband and I lost a pregnancy late in the second trimester, and the first thing I wanted to do was reach out to a rabbi. It dawned on me that I missed Judaism.”
Now the mom to two young boys, Marion, feels like her channel appeals to more than women just like her. “Some women watching are Conservative Jews who grew up with a lot of Jewish education, but perhaps they disconnected in some way or are trying to learn things they didn’t learn in Hebrew school,” she says. “I’ve also realized my audience is diverse. Some people may have never met a Jew before, while others might be on a conversion path, some might have grown-up without Judaism in their life but have a parent or grandparent who is Jewish, or some are ultra-Orthodox who want to learn about a different Judaism.”
Some of the best compliments Marion receives from these diverse audience members, which often has nothing to do with video segment topics like holiday recipes, kosher breastfeeding, and Jewish self-care. They’re about her values. “I talk about how I parent through a Jewish lens in terms of Jewish values, and that’s what resonates with a lot of parents — seeing those values brought to life,” says Marion.
So what’s been Marion’s favorite moment of doing My Jewish Mommy Life so far? Going to the mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) when she was nine months pregnant with her second son. “It’s one of my most popular videos with 10,000 views, so I’m so happy it resonated with people,” she says. “It was something I really wanted to do. You don’t learn about this in Hebrew school, but I had gone after my lost pregnancy, as suggested by the rabbi. It was the most amazing experience spiritually and physically, and unlike any other experience I’ve had in Judaism before.”
Preparing for Passover With Kids? Marion Has a Video for That, Too!
Watch her make matzo brei with the little ones and then try it with yours: