A unique initiative aimed at encouraging young Jewish children to engage in
Judaism’s core values via books distributed for free throughout the school year
announced on Friday that it is set to launch a branch of the program aimed at
the thousands of Israeli families living in the US.
The American PJ
Library, which distributes free books in English to some 170,000 families with
young children, has been operating in the US for a number of years. Last year,
together with the Education Ministry here, a number of local authorities and
other supporters, it began operating a similar book distribution program in
Israel called Sifriyat Pijama.
While the Hebrew books, which all have a
focus on core Jewish values and include works by authors such as Meir Shalev and
Leah Goldberg, were until now only available in Israel, starting in the next few
months families with 3-5 year olds can sign up for the “Sifriyat Pijama
Funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the
Israeli Leadership Council, a Los Angeles-based organization for ex-pat
Israelis, and the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, the initiative hopes
to inspire meaningful conversations between parents and young children on Jewish
values and philosophy. Each of the nine books contains two pages of talking
points for adults to discuss issues raised with their children, and the package
includes an instruction CD.
The “target is to have 1,000 registrants by
July 15 in order for the registrants to receive the entire set for the 2011-
2012 school year. We are focused on nationwide distribution as our goal is to
reach the whole Israeli community in the US,” the organizations said in a
“This program retains a strong Jewish identity and
appreciation of the Hebrew language,” the statement continued.
To sign up
for the program visit http://bit.ly/spbamerica.
In Israel, the
project, which officially started at the beginning of the last academic year,
has already seen some 360,000 Hebrew language children’s books distributed for
free to pre-schoolers.
In addition to funding from the Grinspoon
Foundation and the Education Ministry, the Israeli project has received support
from the Israel Center for Libraries, some Partnership 2000 communities and some
local authorities. The annual budget in Israel is $1.25 million a year, with the
ministry providing NIS 45 per child per year.