My grandson received his new PJ Library book this week. He snuggled with his mom while she read it to him. I participated over FaceTime.
I was with Harold Grinspoon, philanthropist behind the PJ Library initiative, when he whispered confidentially about the program, “It’s not really about the books.”
Since 1993, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) has distributed nearly 20 million Jewish-themed books to Jewish children throughout North America. Twenty million books, 200 million dollars, but it’s not about the books?
Harold shared with us about how he felt the first time he saw his grandchild sitting on his mother’s lap reading a Jewish book. It was about the parent-child bonding. It was about Jewish continuity. Harold inspired PJ Library social groups and, suddenly, it became about Jewish community as well.
In partnership with our Federation, HGF sends books to 800 of our community’s children every month, and Jewish Federation hosts PJ Library programming every day of the week. To Harold’s point, it’s not really about the books, but rather about how we use Jewish books to foster Jewish continuity and Jewish community.
Using PJ Library books, and in partnership with Jewish Family Services, we recently kicked off a reading-buddies program, whereby we match pandemic-isolated seniors with young families for regular virtual story times. We provide the matching PJ books and the participants connect over Zoom or FaceTime. If you’re interested in participating, please let us know.
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