PJ Library, which delivers age-appropriate Jewish-themed books every month to young children and has been increasingly successful since launching in Ottawa in 2011, is expanding the age range of children it serves.
PJ Library is a joint program of the U.S.-based Harold Grinspoon Foundation and local Jewish community partners around the world. The Jewish Federation of Ottawa is the PJ Library partner here.
Ariel Fainer, Federation director of Emerging Generation, co-ordinates the PJ Library program in Ottawa and said Federation has secured enough funding to expand the program’s eligibility so that children aged six months to eight years will benefit. Previously, participation in PJ Library ended when a child reached six-and-a-half.
There were 315 Ottawa children receiving books each month when Fainer began co-ordinating the program two years ago. That number steadily increased to 449 by this summer, and Fainer believes it will continue to grow, especially with the expansion of the age of eligibility.
Howard Fremeth, a member of the PJ Library Committee, is excited about what the expansion of the program means for young families.
“I can say with confidence that PJ Library is now the main vehicle of engaging this critical demographic who are beginning their Jewish journeys. The decision to expand the age of eligibility is a testament to the growing demand for PJ Library products and community engagement,” said Fremeth.
Ottawa’s PJ Library Committee also presents local programming, ranging from Jewish holiday events at synagogues to large-scale family events and parents-only nights out. A PJ Library in the Park event, June 26 at Centrepointe Park, was attended by about 300 children and parents.
“It’s all about getting Jewish families together … and having fun with the community,” Fainer said.
PJ Library in the Park included a barbecue, a splash pad, park toys, and a performance by Capital City Dance, which included getting everyone in attendance up and dancing.
Ari Lesser was overjoyed to see such a high turnout at the park that day.
“The PJ Library in the Park event was a great success with record numbers turning out. It was a wonderful sight [to see] children playing, dancing and creating new friendships,” he said.
Another attendee, Leslie Feldman, said she loved the way PJ Library brings Jewish families of all backgrounds together through a wide array of programming.
“It was a fantastic event! It really brought a lot of young, Jewish families together and it connected them in a fun and friendly way,” she said. “It’s just a really great program all around.”
For more information about PJ Library, or to register young children to receive free Jewish books each month, contact Ariel Fainer at 613-798-4696, ext. 240, or AFainer@jewishottawa.com.