(JTA) – PJ Library, a program providing free Jewish children’s books to families, is expanding to Russia.
The monthly book club founded by American Jewish philanthropist Harold Grinspoon is launching a pilot effort distributing Russian-language books in Moscow, it announced in a news release Wednesday.
The program, in partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group, will initially serve Jewish children ages four through eight and their families, with the first books to be distributed during Chanukah. Its goal is to reach up to 2,000 children and families by August.
While the project represents the first time PJ has distributed Russian-language books, the organization, with Genesis, for the past five years has sponsored events and other efforts to enrol North American Russian-speaking Jews in its English-language book program.
“We have seen huge demand for PJ Library among Russian-speaking Jewish families,” Grinspoon said in a news release issued by PJ Library. “Parents from all Jewish backgrounds struggle with the question of how to raise a Jewish family. The high-quality books introduced into the home through PJ Library empower and equip Russian-speaking Jewish families – whether in [North America] or Russia – to engage Jewishly.”
Ilia Salita, CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group, said in a statement, “We are thrilled to partner with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in this important project that will infuse the cherished tradition of parents and children reading together at bedtime with Jewish content and values, this time in Russian.”
Created in 2005, the PJ Library says it sends more than 150,000 Jewish children’s books each month to Jewish children and families in North America. Globally, more than 400,000 Jewish children and families in eight countries receive PJ Library books each month through PJ Library and Sifriyat Pijama, a sister program distributing Hebrew-language books in Israel. (Sifriyat Pajama also distributes the Hebrew books to Israeli families in North America.) The PJ Library partner in Ottawa is the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. In 2014, Grinspoon’s foundation launched a spinoff effort distributing secular Arabic-language books to Arab schoolchildren in Israel.
In addition to mailing out books, PJ Library partners with local community organizations to provide Jewish family and children’s programming, including holiday celebrations.