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PJ Library is Splashing into Summer

By PJ Library Atlanta

PJ Library is making a SPLASH this summer with Splash Pad meetups around town! Come play with other PJ Library families at these fun-filled gatherings; our meetups are the perfect way to make new friends in Jewish ATL.

Splash into Summer kicked off this past Sunday in Sandy Springs with over 25 families in attendance at the splash pad at City Springs. Many new connections between families were made as children cooled off in the water. One parent commented, “It was a blast! I met a great new family that lives right by us.” Many parents expressed gratitude that meetups are being scheduled in the area and are already planning to attend another.

You’ll find us playing in the summer sun:

  • Sunday July 16 at 10 AM in Atlanta
  • Sunday July 23 at 11 AM in Brookhaven
  • Sunday July 23 at 3:30 PM in Dunwoody
  • Friday July 28th at 5 PM as part of Dive into Shabbat in partnership with the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta

Click here to sign up and receive the meetup locations. We hope to see you there!

PJ Library Gives Micah a Lifelong Relationship to Judaism

By PJ Library Atlanta

There are PJ Library resources for children and parents at every stage of life—from supporting new parents with JBaby, to engaging kids from 9-12 years old with PJ Our Way. PJ Library books, resources, and programs shed light on the beautiful and multifaceted parts of Judaism—the rituals, the stories, and the joy—that bind children to the global Jewish community.

“My 1 1/2-year-old, Micah, is obsessed with checking the mail. He wants to check it 3+ times a day! So, when his PJ library book arrives in the mail with HIS name on it, it’s a big party! Getting it out of the mailbox, opening the package, and discovering his new book—every step just lights him up. And our PJ books are some of our daily reads. He loves singing along to ‘Dayenu’—even my non-Jewish husband joins in on the songs! I love how PJ connects him to his Jewish identity.” – East Atlanta Village Family 

PJ Library Goes Beyond Books

By PJ Library Atlanta

If you grew-up in a Jewish home, you may already be familiar with PJ Library, which connects Jewish kids and their families to the diversity and richness of the Jewish experience through storytelling. These stories help children form personal, meaningful relationships to Judaism, and spark a lifetime love of reading. On the surface it may appear that PJ Library is solely a literacy program. But it is so much more. 

PJ Families can go online to access free resources like recipes, downloadable activities, videos, and even podcasts. These materials give kids hands-on experiences that connect them to the stories they read. Parents and kids can take part in activities that teach them about Judaism—its rituals, legends, and celebrations. When we provide children with a lasting connection to their history, they feel more connected through our shared tradition. 

PJ Library also hosts local, neighborhood events for families with young children, allowing families to meet and, hopefully, form friendships that will last a lifetime. You can follow PJ Library on Facebook to stay up to date on local gatherings.  

Welcoming a new child can be as overwhelming as it is exciting, and PJ Library is here to help. JBaby connects new families to each other, to specialists for advice, and to Jewish community resources about family-friendly programs in your area. JBaby events are open to couples, single parents, parents by adoption or surrogacy, and families who are interfaith, LGBTQ+, multiracial, and which contain people with disabilities. J Baby can help expecting parents create a nurturing Jewish community in which to welcome their bundle of joy. Families can click here to sign up for JBaby and find more information about programming. 

PJ Library is an incredible resource for families with children of any age. The stories that children read and the people they meet will impact them for a lifetime and make them feel supported and understood as they age. Storytelling is an entry point to the long history and proud tradition of our Jewish community, and whether we read these stories from books or repeat them to each other in a park over a picnic blanket, we are continuing a long and rich tradition.  

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Learning Women’s History with PJ Library

By Atlanta Jewish Community, PJ Library Atlanta

pj-library-donate-buttonEach month, more than 4,700 children in Atlanta receive the gift of a free Jewish-themed book from PJ Library that shares holiday traditions, Jewish values, and more. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are a few PJ Library classics you and your children can enjoy: 

  • Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade written by Barbara Krasner, illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
    A young Golda Meir embraces tzedakah and organizes her friends and neighbors to raise money for textbooks for her classmates.    
  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 written by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
    Clara Lemlich is a teenager when her family arrives in the United States, but her young age doesn’t stop her from organizing a labor strike that will inspire workers across the country.  
  • Judy Led the Way written by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrations by Margeaux Lucas
    Did you know that the first American bat mitzvah happened barely 100 years ago? Judy’s courage and intelligence paved the way for millions of other girls.  
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark written by Debbie Levy, illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley
    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was never satisfied with the status quo, and her life’s story is recounted through a series of moments where she dared to disagree.  

These stories show Jewish children that they have the power to make a difference, as these 20th Century women did, beginning when they were girls. The struggle for equal rights is not ancient, but rather quite timely. This Women’s History Month, PJ Library can help your family discuss the importance of telling historical stories.  

This month, we’re highlighting the incredible work that PJ Library does in our community. To be part of inspiring the next generation of Jewish kids, donate today to PJ Library.

Sign Up Now for a Shabbat Gather Grant

By Atlanta Jewish Community, Gather Grants, NextGen Atlanta, PJ Library Atlanta

Applications are open now for the next round of Gather Grants! Are you looking to grow your community? Have you considered hosting a Shabbat dinner, but feel like it might be too expensive? Apply for a Gather Grant this month and let Federation support your celebration!

The program gives $180 microgrants to individuals in the Atlanta metro area who host a gathering in their community for a designated holiday or initiative. The theme for the winter 2023 cycle is “Embracing and Elevating Shabbat.”

Gather Grant applications are open now and will be accepted until Tuesday, January 31. The gatherings which receive grants must be completed between February 1 and February 26.

Shabbat is arguably the most important holiday in Judaism—and it happens every week! Every seven days, we have the opportunity to rest and reflect with our loved ones. If you already host a Shabbat gathering, or if you would like to host your first one, sign up for a Gather Grant and let Federation help you celebrate.

Past Gather Grant recipients say:

“My husband and I just bought our home this year, and I had not before been able to host people in the way I can now. I always celebrated shabbat growing up and being able to host others this year really felt like an amazing full circle moment. Also, a friend who recently converted helped me plan; it was the first time she helped organize a shabbat meal!”

The biggest impact for my family was the ability to make new friends in our community. It is so important for my children to have Jewish friends to grow up with and see at services. Thanks to this program we are getting invitations to come for meals at the homes of the other participants. I am excited to watch these relationships grow.”

If you’re new to Shabbat, don’t worry. One Table says, “There is not one single way to celebrate Shabbat, so don’t worry that you’re going to do something wrong! Shabbat is always there for the taking and does not require anything fancy.” Their website is an excellent resource for first-time Shabbat-celebrators and hosts.

Your Shabbat event could be a sundown dinner, a Havdalah celebration, or a daytime Saturday gathering. There is no one way to celebrate Shabbat—get creative! Apply today for your Gather Grant and plan a Shabbat celebration to bring some warmth to the winter months.

PJ Library is Hosting a “Grand” Getaway

By PJ Library Atlanta

Calling all grandparents and grandkids! PJ Library is hosting its second Grand Getaway in partnership with Ramah Darom from January 27 to 29. This weekend is designed for grandparents and grandchildren to connect via interactive and engaging programming while celebrating Shabbat in the beautiful North Georgia mountains (and parents are invited, too!).  

Grand Getaway is a great opportunity for grandparents and their grandkids to spend time together while exploring Jewish traditions and different ways of telling their family’s stories. Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia, is a beautiful place to unplug from the hectic pace of modern life and connect as a family. This casual weekend of fun will be as relaxing as it is interactive. 

The program is designed for children ages 4 to 12 and will feature unique activity tracks for different age groups. Musical guest Hannah Zale will bring ruach (spirit) on this Grand Getaway weekend, providing storytelling and music to help bridge generations.  

The retreat begins on Friday afternoon with challah-braiding and decorating in preparation for a festive Shabbat dinner. Throughout the weekend, grandparents and grandkids will participate in Jewish-themed activities and crafts. Shabbat will close with a Ramah Darom favorite—Havdalah service around the campfire, followed by s’mores!   

Pam Cohen, the Family Engagement Coordinator at Federation, says “While much of our PJ Library Atlanta programming focuses on connecting families to others within the Jewish community, we love that this program is designed to enhance the connection within generations of a family.” 

Last year’s inaugural Grand Getaway was so much fun, and PJ Library is thrilled to be hosting this special event once again. Here are a few words from two of last year’s participants: 

“We are so grateful to Ramah and PJ because we’d never make the time to spend time together like this on our own.” 

“We very much enjoyed the concept of multi-generational family get together. Actually, the weekend served a dual purpose of spending significant time with our children and grandchildren, but also providing an outlet for discussion regarding the roles we play as Jewish grandparents in our youngster’s lives.” 

Additional information and registration information can be found here. Please reach out to Pam (PCohen@JewishAtlanta.org) if you have any questions.  

We hope to see you at the Grand Getaway! 

PJ Library Atlanta Heads Intown

By Atlanta Jewish Community, PJ Library Atlanta

For the past 4 years, PJ Library Atlanta has been meeting families where they are—with an emphasis on those living OTP. This summer, PJ Library Atlanta has been spending time learning all about its Intown families so it can bring unique, high-quality, low-barrier experiences to the breadth of our community. Through surveying families and studying the changing trends in PJ Library subscriptions, we know that the population of families raising young children is increasing in Intown Atlanta.

PJ Library Atlanta has a very successful history engaging families in Metro Atlanta.  This has traditionally been done by hiring a neighborhood connector (a part-time staff member) to establish programming in an area, connect families to each other, and deepen their relationship to the greater community.  In the past, connectors have been centered in Smyrna/Vinings, Dunwoody, North Fulton, and Brookhaven.

Now, we are replicating the model as Pam Cohen (Federation’s Family Engagement Coordinator, and former PJ Connector) is reaching out to families for one-on-one conversations to explore the findings of a survey which was posted in the new PJ Library Intown Atlanta Facebook group and plan events based on that feedback. Once we meet the right person, there will be a designated PJ Intown Connector to continue growing community connections and ensure PJ Library is meeting the unique needs of Intown Atlanta families.

If you are an Intown family, join the Facebook group for details on two park meet ups around Decatur and Grant Park planned in August! Reach out to Pam at pcohen@jewishatlanta.org with any questions.

Camp is for Families!

By Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, PJ Library Atlanta

Family Weekend: Passover Edition April 1-3

Jewish camp isn’t just for kids anymore, it is for entire families! Federation wants you to experience the fun, freedom, and Jewish community that a camp retreat can create at Family Weekend: Passover Edition, April 1-3 at Ramah Darom.

Family Weekend is an early Spring retreat tailored for families with children ages 0-5, with a focus on fun activities to help families get ready for Passover. Activities will be specifically geared for little ones, with plenty of opportunities to be outdoors and connect with nature. You’ll spend time crafting, cooking, creating, and learning more about the traditions of Passover. There will also be enriching adult experiences, all in a beautiful camp atmosphere that is relaxed and casual.

With help from Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, the cost for the entire weekend is just $400 – an incredible price that makes it possible for whole families to attend. We are proud to partner with these organizations to bring you this weekend: 18Doors, Be’Chol Lashon, Ma’alot Atlanta, PJ Library Atlanta, and the Israeli American Council.

The Treasure of Jewish Identity

By Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, PJ Library Atlanta
by Lynn Sapertstein

As “Grammy” to Jake, Harrison, and their baby cousin, Juniper “June” Graham, I am in my element. And when my husband Jan, or I are reading Jewish-themed PJ Library books with them, it’s pure gold!

In Atlanta, free PJ Library books are mailed monthly to more than 5,000 children. Our grandkids get excited when new books, tailored to their ages, arrive in the mail. When we read together, Jake will ask about Jewish things I did when I was a young girl, or when his mom was little. I love how Harrison will snuggle in as I read to him about Shabbat and how his eyes shine when we bless the challah.  

We tell stories. We ask questions. When Hanukkah comes and we light the menorah that Jake made, it all comes full circle. The books are a springboard for deeper conversations. 

Throughout the pandemic many of my friends were not been able to see their grandchildren. They used FaceTime and Zoom not just to chat, but to read PJ Library books with them! The books are fun and colorful, and you learn along with your grandkids. In families where one parent or grandparent is new to our faith, PJ Library books are a safe and comfortable way to learn and grow in observance. 

I’m firmly of the belief that if you want to have a grandchild who loves Jewish traditions, and who understands Jewish values, you must put in the effort. Grandparents have a unique opportunity to show that Jewish identity matters. When we model Jewish values and traditions, they endure beyond our generation, beyond our kids’ generation, down to the grandkids. That is incredibly powerful!

Through PJ Library books we also have an opportunity to model Jewish generosity. It costs $40 a year for each child to have a PJ Library subscription. While the books are mailed for free, the program is not self-sustaining. I’d love to see grandparents with grandkids in Atlanta (or even out of town), become champions for PJ Library by supporting it with their donations so that more families can share the treasure of our heritage. 

Sharing The Same Moon. Sharing Our Lives.

By Atlanta Jewish Community, CARING, Global News, PJ Library Atlanta

All Jews share the same lunar calendar, and now twelve families from Yokneam, Megido, and Atlanta have officially begun sharing the moon! The project began two months ago to bring us together at a time when social distancing keeps us even farther apart. Working with our Partnership region, we paired Israeli families with families in Atlanta to build bridges.

Through letter writing these families are collaboratively building an interactive book together called The Same Moon. It tells the story of two families who live on opposite sides of the ocean who get to know each other by sending handwritten letters and photos throughout the year. The book features pockets where one can store the letters as a way to personalize the book for each family. Every month the book prompts the families to share something different about their lives — their hobbies, interests, holiday celebrations and traditions, favorite recipes, and more.

Katie Guzner, a PJ Library Co-Chair, loves the program. “We read PJ Library stories about Israel with our kids and tell them about my Birthright trip, and when my husband, Gennadiy, lived in Megiddo. Now our kids get to share stories with a family in Israel. It’s so precious to receive a letter from our pen pal family and for our girls to learn that we have so much in common.”

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