Pajamas prove tool for building Jewish identity
Pajamas, Jewish kids' books and cuddle-up time with a loving grown up are at the heart of a new program called "PJ Library." Focused on strengthening Jewish identity, the program sends free Jewish children's books or music, plus a parenting guide, monthly to families of children ranging from six months to five years old.
Sending an invitation and a sample children's book to thousands of local homes, Southern New Jersey became the 90th community to begin enrolling its youngest members in hopefully a lifetime of loving their heritage. South Jersey's program is a cooperative venture with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, the Raymond and Gertrude R. Saltzman Foundation, The Jewish Community Foundation, Inc., Elaine Samson and Lynny, Steve, Remy and David Ravitz.
PJ Library is administered locally by Federation's Department of Jewish Education and Continuity (DJE). Ed Rivkin, DJE chair views it as an opportunity to strengthen Jewish homes, increasing knowledge about our heritage and adding a new dimension to Jewish education.
Jewish entrepreneurial philanthropist Harold Grinspoon developed the program with inspiration from celebrity philanthropist Dolly Parton's literacy program, "Dolly's Imagination Library" which distributes books to inner-city and rural children. With an eye to Jewish literacy, Witherspoon adapted Parton's idea in order to bring "Yiddishkeit into the homes of unengaged Jewish families in a positive way."
Local synagogues and early childhood centers plan programming to complement the program. Cong. Beth El, plans a monthly PJ Library story time, for example, and the DJE plans "public space Judaism" events based on the Grinspoon program come spring.
For additional information, an enrollment application for a local child, or to sponsor more children for PJ library, please contact Karen Chast at 751-9500, ext. 188. .