Matzo Ball Boy at bedtime? Jewish families sign up

by Rebecca Wigod

Jewish families in Metro Vancouver are registering with a program called the PJ Library, which sends their young children a free book and/ or CD on Jewish themes once a month.

That’s “PJ” as in “pyjamas.” The program aims to encourage parent-child bonding over Jewish books at bedtime.

There are about 25,000 Jews in Metro Vancouver, estimates Michael Fugman, who chairs the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.

The PJ Library was founded by Harold Grinspoon, a real estate mogul in Springfield, Mass. Now 80 years old, he was inspired by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and by seeing his daughter-in-law give picture books with Jewish themes to children at a Passover seder.

The PJ Library serves families whose children are six months to five years old. About 130 North American cities take part.

Passover titles on its book list include Lisa Shulman’s Matzo Ball Boy, for five-and six-yearolds, and Leslie Kimmelman’s The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah, for slightly younger kids.

The books by Canadian authors on its list include The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band, by Joan Betty Stuchner, and The Market Wedding, by Cary Fagan.

The program has been brought here by the federation and the city’s Jewish Community Centre (JCC). The federation raised $150,000 to support it, while the Harold Grinspoon Foundation is contributing $75,000.

Fugman said that since receiving information about the program last month, the region’s Jewish families have signed up 200 children. For now, a total of 360 may join, although JCC executive director Rick Nelson expects that the program “will grow, in time.”

The JCC will manage it, coordinate book distribution and organize special book-related events, possibly including pyjama parties, Nelson said.

Scott Jackson and Ginaya Peters, who attend Beth Israel synagogue, registered their four-year-old son, Ellis, and two-year-old twin daughters Lucy and Anya.

Peters said that while bookstores often stock picture books about Jewish holidays, she expects the PJ Library to supply more specialized fare, such as Yiddish folk tales and translated versions of books Israeli children are reading. “It’s a great community initiative.”

Over the last four years, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation has supplied more than two million books to Jewish children. For more information, visit

from The Vancouver Sun

The original text of the article may be found here.

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