PJ Library Strengthens Jewish Engagement of Interfaith Families

The Jewish children’s book program is helping to preserve the richness and vibrancy of Jewish culture, one book at a time. Greater MetroWest NJ families who participate in PJ Library say the program has influenced or supported how they talk about and practice Jewish traditions in their home. And an impressive 98 percent of local families say PJ Library helps them have conversations about Jewish traditions, values, and customs with their children according to a newly-released survey which measures the impact of PJ Library nationally and on a community-by-community basis.

Most notably, the survey finds that while the program plays an important role in the lives of Jewish families regardless of background, PJ Library is a significant factor influencing interfaith families when it comes to celebrating Jewish holidays and learning more about Judaism.

Most interfaith families who participate in PJ Library say the program has not only spurred them to celebrate Jewish holidays (64 percent) and Shabbat (58 percent), but also encouraged them to learn more about Judaism (89 percent) and cook traditional Jewish food (66 percent). In Greater MetroWest, 25 percent of those responding to the survey identify as interfaith, and of those, 84 percent say the program has increased their confidence to engage their children around Jewish traditions, values and customs.

Locally, 92 percent of families who participate in PJ Library say the program is a valuable parenting tool, and 86 percent say it has helped them think about the kind of Jewish practice they want to have in their home.

“The books and CDs, along with our year-round JTot programs, reach thousands of families raising Jewish children in our community,” says Andrea Bergman, Greater MetroWest’s director of PJ Library. “This approach of Jewish books in the homes and Jewish activities throughout our community is deepening participants’ Jewish knowledge, stimulating an appreciation of Judaism as relevant to their lives, and inspiring long-term engagement in the Jewish community.”

PJ Library, an initiative of our Federation in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, delivers 3,400 free Jewish children’s books and music CDs to Greater MetroWest families. Each month, each child, ages 6 months to 7 years, receives a carefully selected age appropriate item, along with a parent guide with tips and resources.

“Working to preserve a strong Jewish community for future generations is at the heart of everything we do at the Foundation and through PJ Library,” said Harold Grinspoon, the founder of PJ Library. “Books are a natural way to invite people into a global community and to pass values and traditions onto the next generation, ensuring our children and their children grow up connected to their Jewish heritage.”

Due to the generosity of several philanthropic families in the Greater MetroWest NJ community and individual donors to Federation’s annual UJA campaign, the gift of PJ Library has been offered to young families in the community for the past nine years. It has also spurred enriching programming for families, such as this summer’s JTot in the Park series of events, and a new grandparents group in formation that will connect grandparents in Greater MetroWest to help advance the PJ Library program and provide opportunities for networking, learning and sharing ideas on their role in perpetuating Jewish culture and traditions in the family.  For more information about PJ Library contact Andrea Bergman at ABergman@jfedgmw.org or visit the web page.

The 2016 Triennial PJ Library Study, conducted in partnership with external evaluation firm Informing Change, consisted of an online survey and had a 20 percent response rate with 25,270 responses. Forty-five families participated in additional telephone interviews.