UJA hopes to bring initiative to entire GTA
By Daniel Horowitz--For a parent, some of the most unique and fulfilling moments we share come via the bedtime story.
Seeing the looks of joy, excitement and anticipation on the faces of our children as they wait for the page to turn, revealing a new and colourful illustration in their favourite book, is something neither they, nor we, will ever forget.
Now, thanks to a new pilot project - the adventure of the bedtime story has been taken to a higher level.
Dubbed The PJ Library (PJ, as in pyjamas), this award-winning outreach program to residents of York Region, chaired by Elisa Morton Palter, is designed to develop the identities of Jewish families and strengthen their relationships to the Jewish community.
Parents who reside in York Region with children ages 6 months to 5½ years are eligible to register their family for The PJ Library at www.pjlibrary905.ca or by calling 416.621.56PJ (5675). Each month, the families will receive in the mail, free of charge, a book or CD on Jewish themes including such time-honoured classics as Bagels for Benny and exciting new books like Howard Schwartz’s Before You Were Born.
Started in 2005 by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, The PJ Library is already a success in Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg, and is active in more than 125 American communities, bringing Jewish-themed children’s books and music to young Jewish families. But the books and CDs are only the beginning. Through innovative programming, The PJ Library in York Region will offer participants programs as a way to connect them with other young families to create a true sense of community.
“Throughout my volunteer and philanthropic career, I have primarily focused on issues concerning either education, or reaching out to our community’s unaffiliated,” says Morton Palter. “If you combine that focus with my voracious appetite for reading (I keep Chapters in business!) and my business background in publishing, involvement with The PJ Library seemed like the perfect situation. The opportunity to use all elements of my background to engage unaffiliated, under-affiliated and interfaith families in the Jewish community through books and family-friendly programs was simply too good for me to pass up.”
Each book and CD comes with a reading guide for parents created for The PJ Library by Jewish educators and early childhood educators. The guides list other books to explore and family-friendly ways of bringing lessons and feelings engendered by the books and CDs into each home.
The PJ Library in York Region is a free, no strings attached pilot project that is made possible through the generous support of Gabi Weisfeld, the Weinbaum Family Foundation, Phyllis and Ab Flatt, the Community Fund of the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. UJA is committed to seeking funding so that the program can expand across the entire Greater Toronto Area.