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Celebrating the Success of PJ Library in York Region

More than 1,700 Families Have Already Received the Gift of Jewish Music and Books
By: Leonard Carl
Published: January 27th, 2012 in News » World

The PJ Library in York Region is starting 2012 by celebrating its success. The free program which sends Jewish books and music to the homes of over 1,700 families in York Region has distributed close to 22,000 books since its launch in May 2010.

The PJ Library program ( "PJ" stands for pajamas worn at bedtime), started in 2005 by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in Massachusetts, provided books to 200 children monthly during its first year of operation. Since then, the library has distributed more than 2 million books, and now reaches 90,000 children each month in 160 communities of the United States and Canada. The program also serves youngsters in Israel, and has just launched a chapter in Australia.

"The goal is to build a library of Jewish books and music in your home that you will use to engage and share with your children," says Elyse Tytel, Coordinator of the PJ Library program in York Region.

According to Tytel, the program is working. “I hear the same thing over and over every month,” she says, “How children run to the mailbox every day to see if their books have arrived. And how thrilled they are to rip open the PJ Library envelope with their name on it to see what new treasure they have received.”

The books and music are just part of the program. Community events and Story times have been taking place year round to help celebrate holidays, connect neighbours and encourage community involvement.

But the programs aren’t just fun and games…the Jewish food bank and Chanukah toy drive have benefitted from the generosity of the PJ Community. “Our families come from all walks of life….but have jumped at the chance to help contribute to the community.”

Another benefit of the PJ community is connecting new families in the community to each other. Israeli families, Russian speaking families and families new to York Region have benefitted from being part of the thriving PJ community.

“I strongly feel programs such as this help to enhance Jewish identity. It makes families feel they belong to something and it really puts a genuine smile on my kids faces when they receive a new book.” Says PJ mom Joanna Stavsky.

PJ mom Janna Nadler agrees, “Our story time has become so much richer thanks to PJ Library and the quality Jewish books they provide.”

From Holiday themes, to books about Israel and traditional folk tales, PJ Library books help Jewish families from all backgrounds learn and engage in discussions about Judaism.

The next program scheduled for PJ families is set for Sunday, February 5th at 3:30 at the Shalom Centre in Vaughan. The celebration of Tu B’Shevat (Jewish Arbour Day) will be extra special this year as it will involve a program organized by Shinshinim, Israeli youth.

Part of the Young Emissary Program, an initiative of Makom and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the program brings Israeli youth to Toronto for a year of work in the Jewish community before starting their army service in Israel. The Young Emissaries, commonly known as Shinshinim, work in Day Schools, Supplementary schools, Synagogues and Youth Movements throughout the year and live with host families from the partnering institutions.

For more information on the February 5th event you can visit www.pjlibrary905.com. Registration for The PJ Library is free to York Region families with children between the ages of 6 months and 5 ½ years old, with at least one Jewish parent.

Related articles: PJ Library, York Region, Jewish, Children's, Family, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, Israel, Pajamas, Reading, Culture
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