Reading back to community

How the PJ Library Program provides an entry point to engage in conversations about Jewish values or concepts and empowers parents to create their Jewish practices that are meaningful and personal.

Dani Sheldon is not a stranger to community.  With strong connections during school and shortly thereafter – she attended Moriah College and then volunteered at CSG – Dani is not someone you’d typically feel would be disconnected from the community.

“After meeting my husband and getting married, there just didn’t seem to be a lot of options for connection,” she says.

Dani’s daughter Ali was born, and six months later, she signed up to receive PJ Library Books from Shalom.  “This seemed to be the start of reconnecting back to the community for me and the connection for us as a young family”, said Dani.

“The first book arrived just before Purim and even though she was only six months old, we decided as a family to bake hamantaschen.”

The connection was then ongoing.  With the books arriving monthly and many following the calendar and relating to upcoming Jewish holidays, traditions were re-established.  “Things like receiving the Shalom Haggadah that we read at the seder table for Pesach were all additional touchpoints”.

The PJ Library Program was the brainchild of Harold Grinspoon, who first sent Jewish books to 200 children in Western Massachusetts in 2005.  Since then, the program has grown into an ever-expanding global community linked by shared stories and values that span five continents and have more than 670,000 subscribers.  The books celebrate Jewish culture, values and traditions through various tales and beautiful illustrations.

 

However, PJ Library is more than a programme for children. It’s a programme for families and, for parents and serves as an entry point to engage in conversations about Jewish values or concepts and empowers parents to create their Jewish practices that are meaningful and personal to their families.

Today over 1200 families in Australia benefit from the program, with the NSW contingent proudly supported by JCA.

Dani and her family are also regulars at Adamama Farm.  With the establishment of the Adamama Juniors Program, there is another opportunity for them to community while learning about sustainability and creating a better world for the next generation.  For Dani, it’s also a time for her kids to have a similar experience to her when growing up.

“With playgrounds and parks being fitted out primarily with soft forms, our children don’t get the opportunity to feel the earth and get their hands dirty and come face to face with nature.  The Adamama Juniors program is the perfect place for them to play as we did as kids.” 

Through Shalom, our community, both young and old, can participate in programs like those offered to Dani and her family and learn inclusively, building connections and creating possibilities and opportunities that inspire and challenge people to discover their identity and build on that for the future.