“Read to your kids!” we’re told–and how wonderful if those books (and music) show up in the mail once a month, for free. No need to worry about due dates, either, because the library you’re building up is yours to keep. And the books (and occasional music and videos) are age-appropriate for kids 6 months to 8 years old, all on Jewish themes.
That’s the PJ Library–a great program started by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation as a way of getting, and keeping families engaged with their Jewish heritage. The program is national, but managed locally. Here in the Ithaca area, it is managed by the Ithaca Area United Jewish Community, which administers and supports the program financially.
My daughter has been getting the books and music for almost five years–since she was 6 months old. I’m a huge supporter of the program. She loves getting a package in the mail every month, and PJ Library has managed to find books I never knew existed–and introduced me to some great material!
The IAUJC also arranges PJ Library events several times a year locally–a Purim Carnival, a Sukkot Carnival, and so on. This year, my family volunteered to host the Sukkot Carnival at our home. All one hundred or so subscribing families in the area were invited, along with anyone else in the community, to visit our sukkah, have snacks, do crafts, get some balloon art, listen to music, and generally have a great time.
About 70 people came and enjoyed the crafts and music.
The carnival was truly a community effort: Marjorie Hoffman created a kid-sized sukkah for our guests to decorate with crafts and s’chach, Miri Birk provided snacks, Dovid Birk led parachute games, Ben Sachs, CJ Glass, and Rima Grunes provided music, the Rubineau and Saar families acted out a PJ Library book, Amazing Pete’s Balloons created what can only be called balloon sculptures for the kids (and a few adults!), and local teenagers helped with crafts and face painting. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes help from Linda Mandel, Sara Kabakov, and others.
What an amazing community!