Greenwich Post: Jewish families prepare for the High Holidays with new books from PJ Library

Published Wednesday, September 21, 2016
by Greenwich Post

Haven’t read Apples and Honey or Oh No, Jonah!? With the High Holidays around the bend, Greenwich families are tackling these books with the help of PJ Library. To date, more than 700 children in Greenwich have learned about their Jewish heritage through PJ stories and music.

They’re part of a much bigger phenomenon. Thanks to PJ Library, more than 435,000 children worldwide receive a monthly gift of books and CDs in four languages including English, Hebrew, Spanish and Russian. In the US alone, more than 150,000 books are mailed monthly. Since the program’s inception in December of 2005 over 9 million books have been mailed to children in North America and 19 million have been distributed worldwide. PJ Library starts them young: participants range from 6 months to 8 years old.  PJ Our Way, a new “PJ” program for independent readers age 9-11, will launch in Greenwich next month.  

“It’s never too early to create treasured Jewish moments with your family,” said Program Director Tracy Daniels. “We know that magical moments unfold when parents read with their children.” Sharing quality time around meaningful narratives also brings together grandparents and grandchildren. “PJ Library stories illustrate values and traditions that resonate across generations,” noted Daniels.

Developed by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation with an investment of 30 million dollars to date and sponsored in partnership locally by UJA Greenwich, PJ Library started as a way to get free Jewish children’s books into the hands of young readers. Each month, children receive an award-winning title that brings Jewish stories and songs to life at home. These days its mission has expanded to include Story Time gatherings, community celebrations and more. The events of last Sunday are a perfect example. That’s when PJ Library of Greenwich kicked off the 2016 school year with a “Back Together Family Picnic.” This annual September get together welcomes new families with young children and reunites old friends following their summer excursions.

It’s one of 20 or so yearly events for PJ Library families in town. Co-sponsored by JCC Greenwich, they’re frequently presented in coordination with local Jewish and non-Jewish institutions such as synagogues, libraries, businesses and YWCA Greenwich.

Whether at home or out and about, PJ Library stories connect children to Jewish holidays, history, culture and folklore. For interfaith couples, PJ Library books often provide the first glimmers of a Jewish education for a non-Jewish spouse through engaging, relatable stories that spark discussion.

So when’s the next PJ bash? All are invited to the Oct. 20 Sukkah Party at Carmel Academy.

PJ Library of Greenwich is a gift to the community sponsored by UJA Greenwich with help from Grandparents Circle partners. “Participants do not pay for books or need to belong to a synagogue or Jewish organization’” said Daniels. “Families can just sign up at pjlibrary.org or contact me.”

For more information, contact Tracy Daniels at 203.552.1818 orTracy@ujafedgreenwich.org.