PJ Library Implementing Partner Engagement Grants Awarded

We at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation are excited to present the second cohort of sixteen PJ Library Implementing Partners who have been awarded more than $275,000 in grants, ranging from $6000-$25,000, to expand and deepen engagement opportunities for families raising Jewish children across North America.

The selected initiatives emphasize building social connections over time among families raising Jewish children as well as connecting families to local opportunities to engage in Jewish life, programming, or learning.

Part of a five-year strategy to extend Jewish engagement in North America, these grants are funded through the PJ Library Alliance. Our partners in the Alliance are the William Davidson Foundation; the Jim Joseph Foundation; the William and Audrey Farber Philanthropic Fund; Diane & Guildford Glazer / Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles; the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; the Susser Family Trust; Walter, Arnee, Sarah and Aaron Winshall; and two anonymous partners.

This year’s selected initiatives, listed below, are divided into three categories; each category will serve as a community of practice, offering ongoing peer support and collective learning. We look forward to working with these partners and seeing all of their exciting initiatives come to life.

On-Going Neighborhood Programming

  • Gathering for Good, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago, IL

Two neighborhood cohorts of 20-25 families each will gather regularly over a six month period to participate in social action projects and social programs. The Gathering for Good connector will connect and engage families throughout the duration of the program, and will link families to community opportunities.

  • PJ Baby, Jewish Community Center, Cincinnati, OH

Two Welcome Baby parties, six months apart, will launch neighborhood-based stroller clubs for families with children under one year old. Weekly self-led stroller clubs will maximize social opportunities. The project will be enriched with a monthly set of discussion topics, two “parents night out” events, and a “Judaism at Home” class near the end of the cohort duration.

  • A Mitzvah for All Seasons, Jewish Family & Community Services, Jacksonville, FL

Quarterly large-scale PJ Library mitzvah-themed events will be organized by the active PJ Library parent committee. Four parent committee members will take on the role of ambassador, deepening social connections by organizing ongoing meet-ups and parent events in four targeted neighborhoods.

  • Hudson Valley Rovers, Jewish Federation of Dutchess County, Mid-Hudson Valley, NY

Each month a PJ Library program will be held at a Hudson Valley iconic location. Neighborhood captains from communities close to each of the 12 wide-spread locations will be supported to develop connections among local PJ Library families and to offer programming meaningful to that community.

  • Sukkot Family Camp & Engagement Events, B’nai Brith Camp, Oregon

Sukkot Family Camp is an immersive weekend opportunity for families from small Oregon communities to deepen their connections to Jewish values and build community. Throughout the year BB Camp youth engagement staff will offer programming in each small community to help grow social networks.

  • PJ Beyond, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Monthly holiday-focused, family-centered Jewish exploration events will be offered in the City/East End neighborhood. A dedicated PJ Beyond ambassador will be the consistent face, responsible for helping to create and maintain social connections among families during, after, and between events.

  • Russian Speaking Community Connectors, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, San Francisco, CA

Three Russian speaking Jewish (RSJ) community connectors will create three regional groups to engage RSJ families with children aged four years and younger. Multiple activities will be designed and offered each month, catering to the specific needs and interests of RSJ families.

Home-Based Shabbat Programming

  • Shtick Together, The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, Greater MetroWest, NJ 

Each of the six lead families in six targeted neighborhoods will bring together four families with children aged six and under for monthly home-based Shabbat meals and holiday celebrations. Lead families will receive training and coaching, and be empowered to act as vessels of information about the larger Jewish community.

  • Shabbat B’yachad (Shabbat Together), Jewish Federation of Reading, Reading, PA

Three engaged PJ Library families will host three to four less-engaged families for catered, kosher Shabbat dinners in their homes every other month. A summer Shabbat-in-the-Park event will kick off the program, with a challah baking class and a Shabbat seder manual supporting the deepening of Shabbat literacy among the families.

  • Shabbat Shalom Savannah, Savannah Jewish Federation, Savannah, GA

Four actively involved PJ Library families with host Shabbat in their homes three times during the year for four less engaged PJ Library families. Five additional community-wide events will help connect these families to the greater Jewish community: a Shabbat dinner kick off, three holiday celebrations, and an end-of-the-year Havdalah event.

  • Shabbat in My Neighborhood, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Winnipeg MB

Four PJ Library families will host two to four less engaged families for three pre-scheduled Shabbat dinners in their homes. Families (or adults only) will be invited to participate in workshops throughout the year to warm up for Shabbat by baking challah and creating Shabbat ritual items. A Havdalah pizza party will wrap up the year.

Community Connectors

  • PJ On Your Street, Jewish Federation of Columbus, Columbus, OH

Two connectors will create neighborhood-based cohorts of parents and children in two traditionally underserved areas of Columbus. Each connector will be responsible for developing and executing engaging programming built around Jewish values, and the interests of neighborhood parents.

  • PJ Library Engagement Ambassadors, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Detroit, MI

Two ambassadors will create relationships and connect families to each other, and to the larger Jewish community within two underserved / unconnected areas in metropolitan Detroit: the east suburbs (where the JCC recently closed) and the far west suburbs.

  • Parent Ambassadors, Jewish Learning Venture, Philadelphia, PA

Four parent ambassadors will enhance community, increase social connections, and connect families to Jewish life opportunities. One ambassador will focus on families with children who are younger than age two years old in Center City; three ambassadors will focus on families with children ages zero to six in select suburban neighborhoods.

  • PJ Library Family Engagement Ambassadors, Valley Beit Midrash, Phoenix, AZ

Three family ambassadors will create ongoing public space and neighborhood-based programming in three distinct communities of Phoenix where many Jewish families with children aged two to five live. Ongoing programming at the same time and location will enable families to build peer-to-peer relationships.

  • Neighborhood Engagers, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Seattle, WA

Seattle’s successful Neighborhood Song & Story program takes place weekly in 12 locations throughout greater Seattle. To capitalize on this success, four neighborhood engagers will increase neighborhood Jewish connections by engaging with these PJ Library families in their area on a weekly basis.