PJ Library in NSW

July 19, 2011 by Henry Benjamin
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A ground-breaking initiative, based on a scheme devised by Country and Western singer Dolly Parton, will enhance Jewish identity for 650 families in NSW and the ACT who have children between 6 months and six years.


Brandon Srot and Nicki Smoli


The popular singer financially backed a program which delivered books each month to selected impoverished families in the U.S….an idea which was tailored by the Boston-based Harold Grinspoon Foundation to suit the needs of young Jewish families.

The PJ Library, now flourishing in the U.S., Israel and Canada, will be launched in New South Wales and the ACT next month.

Program Director Nicki Smoli told community organisation leaders this week that the program was financially limited to 650 families to which a Jewish children’s book or a Jewish music CD would be sent each month….free of charge. Smoli added: “The community can contribute financially to the scheme allowing for more participants.” She said special care is being taken to ensure that small outlying communities are being notified of the PJ Library.

The program is being launched by the Shalom Institute in conjunction with the Jewish Communal Appeal.

On August 8 qualifying families will be able to register their interest on the yet to be launched local PJ Library web site.

Buying a certificate as a gift will not permit the purchaser to nominate a recipient. The books will be delivered on a first come first served basis. Smoli explained that the Shalom Institute was bound by the rules and regulations of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and that the operation in NSW would mirror that of the U.S.

She added that each book would come with a special guide for parents…

Only parents can apply. Shalom Institute’s Young Adults Director Brandon Srot explained: “The books will go to whomever applies. It has to be the receiving family. So grandparents, for example, can not apply.”

Shalom Institute Director Hilton Immerman who discovered the program in 2007 told the meeting that “the home is the most critical factor in the development of Jewish identity in children.” He added: “Parents are particularly receptive when the children are very young.”

A proportion yet to be established will be reserved for special cases.

The PJ Library will hold a pyjama party at the end of August to celebrate the program’s launch.

The families keep the books sent to them and the Shalom Institute and JCA who are funding the program hope that within time the program can be expanded to other areas.

In the U.S.,  200 families participated in the launch. There are now over 60,000 members of the PJ Library and they recently allocated their 2 millionth book.

To make further enquiries, please write to:  [email protected]



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