Family Conversations Stirred by Friedman CJE’S PJ Library®
Mason Sorgman has been reading PJ Library books provided through the Friedman Commission for Jewish Education of the Palm Beaches (Friedman CJE) since the age of six months — although, as his mother Faith Sorgman tells us, he mostly looked at the pictures at that young age. Since that time, he and his family have used PJ Library books to prompt meaningful Jewish conversations. His younger brother is following in his footsteps as a PJ Library subscriber. Mason, who spent his early childhood years in the JCC Preschool, is now entering Grade 2 at Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy. Now, he reads the books to his parents.
“As early as Mason can remember, Shavuot was the holiday when we ate blintzes for dinner. This year, along with eating the traditional foods, we talked about the Torah and about why it is important to have the Ten Commandments,” explains PJ Mom Sorgman. “Mason continued the conversation, explaining the story of when Moses received the Torah at Mount Sinai and about laws and rules.”
Faith credits PJ Library books for inspiring Jewish moments in her home and leading to broader Jewish community connections for her family. “PJ Library books allow our entire family to have ‘out-of-the-box’ conversations and have allowed Mason to use his critical thinking skills to question and talk about Jewish laws and customs as well as learn about traditions and holidays.”
She adds that, “Having the books come into our home has led to our family being more connected to the Jewish community than we might otherwise have been. My husband, who had been raised in a somewhat secular home, learns from the books along with the boys. The pluralistic stories about Jewish families stimulate our openness to learning from and getting to know rabbis in all of the movements.” The Sorgman family is affiliated with Temple Judea.
“We’ve been able to use the stories to teach our children that religion is personal. The stories are not about what’s right and wrong, but more about family observances. Each book has an added flap with questions to start our conversations.”
— Faith Sorgman
Amy Bergman, Friedman CJE’s Director of Jewish Family Life, describes the Friedman CJE’s PJ Library as, “More of a strategy than a program. PJ Library reaches families where they are, not where we want them to be, by sending a free Jewish book directly to 1200 children in our community each month. The Friedman CJE then works with these families to connect them to Jewish life and learning at our local Jewish agencies, synagogues, Jewish early childhood centers, Jewish Day Schools, and JCC’s. The connection continues even after the children receiving the books reach age six and their subscription ends.”
PJ Library, created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in Massachusetts, is implemented locally by the Friedman CJE. It is offered to children living in the Greater Palm Beaches (West to Wellington, South to Boynton Beach and North to Stuart) – thanks to generous additional support from Dorothy Adler, Barbara & Jack Kay, other donors to Friedman CJE’s Annual Campaign, and the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County.
Children ages six-months-to six-years-old can become PJ Library subscribers. To register your child, click here.
Contact Amy Bergman, Friedman CJE’s Director of Jewish Family Life, for more information at 561.209.2608 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep current with Friedman CJE’s resources by liking our Facebook page.