Jose grew up in the Dominican Republic and now lives in Roxbury devoting his life to working with inner-city youth. He is married and has a son. It turns out that his family was not always from the Dominican Republic. They were on a boat during the war leaving Europe, thinking they were heading to the United States and the boat was detoured to the DR. Over time Jose became disconnected from his Jewish past, but since having his son something has changed, and that something happened when his family discovered PJ Library. Jose is one example of the deep and meaningful ways that PJ Library can impact a family’s connection to their Jewish identity.

PJ Library in Greater Boston is a partnership between the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) and Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston (JCC) with generous support from CJP and individual donors. Currently, 4,545 children aged 0-6.5 receive books infused with Jewish content mailed to their homes at no cost to the families, and over 11,483 children have participated since the program launched eight years ago. Nationally, PJ Library sends books to 160,000 children every month!

PJ Library can mean different things to different people. For some parents, it’s a chance to add on to their collection of Jewish books; for some parents who have grown up in another faith, it’s a way to learn about Jewish traditions, folktales and values; for some grandparents it’s a way to pass on their Jewish connection and heritage from generation to generation. For all families, regardless of Jewish background or knowledge, PJ Library ensures that parents have the necessary tools and feel equipped to have thoughtful conversations with their children about Jewish holidays, traditions and rituals. As one mother from Woburn put it: “I didn’t know that introducing Jewish education to my son at 1 ½ could be so fun and easy. Now, we can easily do this with enthusiasm because he loves the books! He walks around saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ and ‘hammakuh’ and loves his minnow or menorah. It’s made me feel better about celebrating our interfaith marriage as a couple too. I am feeling enthusiastic and confident about celebrating the Jewish holidays, all because of some simple books! Thanks!”

In addition to receiving books in their homes, families all over Greater Boston can choose from over 100 innovative programs and activities every year that are planned and implemented by the JCC and take place in bookstores, playgrounds, parks and in collaboration with day schools and synagogues. The JCC’s goal is that families have many choices to walk through a Jewish gateway that will make them feel welcomed and at home.

Related

One very exciting upcoming event is PJ Library Celebrates Purim at the Boston Children’s Museum on Sunday, March 5, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., a joint production of the JCC and CJP. Children are invited to come in costume and will enjoy all kinds of Purim revelry, including Karen K and the Jitterbugs, a PJ Storytime live puppet performance, a Purim dance party, costume-making and much more! Details can be found at bostonjcc.org/PJPurim.

Thanks to donor support, the JCC is excited to be able to extend the ages for PJ Library to age 8 starting this spring. If you have children or grandchildren who live in the Greater Boston area who are between the ages of 6 months through 8 years old, signing up for PJ Library is easy—just go to pjlibrary.org and click on the Boston community, or call 617-558-6587. To find out about PJ Library events going on in our area, go to bostonjcc.org/family. We welcome you, and happy reading!

Jaime Darsa, PJ Library coordinator at the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, has a wealth of experience in Jewish education and creating programs and events for families with young children. She and her two young children are huge PJ fans. The books and programs have continued to touch and impact her family through the years. That is why she is so passionate about sharing these stories and experiences with families throughout Greater Boston. Jamie lives in Dedham with her family.