superdumb supervillain: Happy Hanukkah from the PJ Library

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Hanukkah from the PJ Library

Roo has been asking a lot of questions about being Jewish this year. She was excited about Hanukkah as early as Thanksgiving! I'm glad that she is curious about her heritage but I'm a little overwhelmed since my formal Hebrew school and Jewish education stopped when my parents split up when I was 9. (I also quit Japanese school around this time, another regrettable decision.) I haven't been to temple in years and have been fumbling with the Hebrew prayers. Roo asked me to write them down for her, so she could say them, too, and I had to admit that I've been saying them phonetically. Lame!

Yeah, yeah, I know… Wikipedia helps*. But kids want to know more about tradition and culture, real-life stuff, not just the whys and wherefores. I'm a big believer in the concept of family literacy and lifelong learning, so I was extremely excited to learn about the PJ Library, an organization that shares the gift of free Jewish children’s books and the message of Jewish values with families across the globe.

Inspired by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which sends free books to children in underserved areas of the US, PJ Library founder Harold Grinspoon sought to adapt the same concept to engage Jewish families. In 2005, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation started sending 200 free Jewish children’s books monthly. Now, more than 200,000 books go out each month to children in 155 communities across North America and Israel and the number is growing every day.

"PJ” stands for the pajamas worn at bedtime. Program organizers say a bond is formed between children and their parents during typical bedtime reading sessions and reading these PJ Library books together can encourage learning about the Jewish culture, religion, and traditions for both the parents and children. We received a great box to get started with:

Both kids love the books- especially the silly ones! Roo has already been trying out the Hebrew words from the CD, too. It's been fun to try and explain borscht and the concept of keeping kosher to them. On a monthly basis the PJ Library mails a Jewish children’s book or CD to participating homes addressed to the child, helping them to build their own library and inspire a passion for reading.

Currently 85,000 children between the ages of six months and eight years in more than 155 communities in the United States and Canada are enrolled in the PJ Library program. I was impressed to see that there is a PJ Library community here in Wichita! Check the website to see if there is a PJ Library community located near you.

New York stands out as the largest PJ Library program in the US with 10,000 monthly deliveries – and the expectation is that it will double within the next year to 20,000 families. With two million Jews in New York, the city is second only to Tel Aviv in the size of its Jewish population.

*FYI: My aunt pointed me to the excellent web resource Judaism 101, which I will be cribbing from, liberally, too. She printed out the prayers for everyone to say the other night at my grandpa's.

In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and the WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that we received the box of books shown to facilitate our understanding of the PJ Library and their good works. All opinions are my own, as usual. 

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