Building the Jewish Future One Children's Book at a Time

5/2/2012

By Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey | Jewish Community Voice

The Jewish Federation is committed to helping people connect to Judaism in ways that are meaningful to them. Through the PJ Library program, families are supported in their Jewish journey by receiving Jewish-content books and music on a monthly basis. The program serves children ages six months to six years. Created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library is a national program administered locally by Federation's Department of Jewish Education. It is also made possible by the generous support of the Saltzman Foundation, Elaine Waxman and Gold Gerstein Group.

"What a beautiful introduction for my child and for my husband to Judaism," said Traci, who is Jewish, lives with her husband Jim, who is not Jewish, and their young daughter, Mandy. "My concern was," continued Traci, "how are we going to raise our child Jewish when I needed to educate my child as well as my husband? Jim didn't really understand that it's not just a religion." One of the unanticipated benefits of the PJ Library program is its impact on a parent who was not brought up in the Jewish tradition.

Jennifer, another PJ Library participant, said, "My kids love checking the mail for the PJ Library envelope and seeing whose name is on the front. Being the daughter of an English teacher, I already had a love of books to share with my children. The PJ Library books add a whole new dimension to that love of reading."

She added, "First of all, the books are great books. On top of that, these books encompass so many things about Judaism: the holidays, the history, the culture, and the humor. The books spark great discussions in our house between parent and child as well as between my husband and me. Chicken Man led to a discussion about living on a kibbutz in Israel. Feivel's Flying Horses inspired a discussion on Jewish immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, a book filled with beautiful folk art and funny details, sparked discussion about frugality and recycling. Five Little Gefiltes made us laugh and taught us Yiddish. And one of my favorites, Bagels from Benny, reflects one of the most important values I hope to instill in my children -- that of human kindness and gratitude. That book led to talk of being thankful for what you have and the importance of giving back to the community. No doubt, my family is extremely grateful for the generosity of Harold Grinspoon, a man who leads by example of giving back to his community."

Building and strengthening our Jewish community and making the world a better place are what we at the Jewish Federation do every day. Your Annual Campaign dollars make this opportunity to foster and celebrate Jewish life for future generations possible.

To learn more about PJ Library and other Department of Jewish Education programs, or to make an Annual Campaign contribution, visit www.jewishsouthjersey.org or contact us at 751-9500, ext. 1214.