First Place, NMPW Specialty articles: Religion, 2016 Focus Group Results; PJ Library a Bouyant Success. “Both stories were wonderfully done and really came across as having an author who is knowledgeable about the subject matter and that makes a difference especially when you have stories in the religion category. But at the same time A reader who might not be Jewish would still read these and come away informed about Jewish life in New Mexico. The survey story was much more detailed and frankly more interesting but the library story was also well written and nicely done.”
“This is one of the main ways I could get him around other Jewish kids,” said parent Lotem, “I would come to any PJ Library event they have,” interrupting to call out softly while partly laughing at herself, “Don’t run with scissors,” to her six-year-old, as she watched him finish making his ornament and run to put up it up in the Sukkoth booth in preparation for the pajama party read-aloud.
“I have no relatives here,“ she explained, “so I just can’t afford to belong to a synagogue, plus the demands that they make on your time. When I got the invitation from PJ Library to come, how nice it was they invited us! so I came. My parents signed him up originally.”
PJ stands for pajamas, and one of the events PJ Library holds are pajama parties. PJ Library was created by real estate magnate Harold Grinspoon after watching his daughter-in-law read aloud at bedtime to his grandchildren. He especially wants to reach the children of Jewish parents who he sees are in danger of losing their Jewish identities, because of intermarriage or changing lifestyles or simply the demands of the workaday world.
Jewish children younger than nine receive a free age-appropriate book every month. Children between ages 9 and 11 can choose their own books through a new program called PJ Our Way. The program extends across countries all over the world. And, already there are more than 300 families signed up in New Mexico.
The Jewish Federation of New Mexico administers the program here. To sign up your children click: http://pjlibrary.org/communities/jewish-federation-new-mexico/84 or contact Kristen Gurule at the Federation: email@example.com or (505) 821-3214.
It’s also a chance for fathers to get involved, and many were in attendance at the pajama party held at the JCC during Sukkot.
Ben Berger, cradling son Jordan, 16 months, was in line with wife Alissa and Max, 3 for plates of macaroni, broccoli, and fruit salad, dished out by Federation staff Kristen Gurule and Sara Koplik, Director of Community Outreach.
Berger said, as did almost everyone who was asked, that he heard about PJ Library through his mother. “I’ve used the books a lot for all the holidays, and also for Max’s school. On Monday I brought in a PJ Library book to his class at Sunset Mesa, and the teacher read the book and had them all make the craft project, a yellow lemon sun-catcher. I’d arranged it ahead of time with the teacher and they had no problem with it and had all the supplies ready.”
Sara Koplik, New Mexico’s PJ Library organizer, explains the lulav in the Sukkoth booth that had just been constructed by engineering students in a Hillel contest on the UNM campus and transplanted to the Jewish Community Center in time for the party.
Kristen Gurule put her children in charge of getting sparklers to everyone as the dusk settled in. Gurule contacted the families signed up with PJ Library, and more than 60 families responded to this second PJ party event.
Sophie Tyroler, 4, was intent on seeing how a photo would come out while she twirled her light sparkler necklace in front of her eyes. Then sister Lucy wanted to try it. Their mother Brooke Rosen said that Sophie and Lucy’s grandmother signed them up with PJ Library.
Talking with Executive Director Zach Benjamin, left, Jocelyn Hodes, with Jakob, 4, has recently joined the Federation board here. From Philadelphia, she said they have always been a PJ Library family and involved with Federation. Koplik chats with Betty Harvie, long-time board member who came to help out and signed up new children for the program.
And new books were passed out. “Gershon’s Monster,” a tale for the Jewish New Year adapted from a legend about the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement, tells about what happens when a recalcitrant father casts his sins away into the sea, but without remorse, during the old Jewish ceremony of tashlich. The high-quality book, published by Scholastic, is by Caldecott award-winning author Eric Kimmel and Gold Medal award-winning illustrator Jon Muth, and is typical of the books mailed out monthly.
Then all too soon,