You Bring Jewish Families Together!

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
On a recent sunny summer Shabbat afternoon, parents and their little ones got together for our first PJ Library® Bim Bam Baby! gathering. Moms, dads, and the kids enjoyed a picnic lunch and a sing-along, the children had loads of fun with kid-friendly activities, and the parents had a priceless chance to get to know one another.

It was a great start to a busy year ahead of bringing families together through the PJ Library. Since Federation introduced the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ Library to our community over 10 years ago, thousands of our community’s families have made wonderful Jewish memories enjoying PJ’s award-winning children’s books, sent free to their homes every month — PJ Library books for children ages 6 months to 8 years and PJ Our Way™ books that kids 9 to 11 pick out for themselves.

Thanks locally to the Lott Family Foundation, the Auerbach Family Foundation, Garrett and Rachel Hyman, the Bayley Family Foundation, and other generous Federation donors like you, we’re taking the next step: using the PJ Library as a foundation for creating low-barrier, high-impact opportunities for families to befriend each other, do Jewish things together, and weave the networks of warm relationships that are the heart of a strong Jewish community.

There is a clear yearning for such opportunities. Registrations for our first two Bim Bam Baby! Gatherings filled up within days. The Rosh Hashanah-themed Bim Bam Baby! next month is already full, but there’s still time to RSVP for the October 12, Sukkot-themed event.

And, for families with children in the PJ Our Way age range, mark your calendars for October 6, at Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center — the kickoff of the PJ Family Volunteering Challenge series. During the series, participating families will make connections by making an impact at monthly events: visiting with Kline Galland Home residents, holding a Chanukah party for Seattle Children’s Hospital patients, and much more in the months ahead.

Our PJ Library Community Connectors, Karin Cole and Kathy Packer, are the whirlwinds of positive energy who are creating these opportunities. Karin is hosting Bim Bam Baby! for families with little ones and Kathy will keep parents and older children busy at the Family Volunteering Challenge events. Karin and Kathy are moms who care deeply about bringing families to Jewish life. The secret, as Karin puts it, is the “power of hospitality” —  offering a warm, welcoming space where people can discover common interests, play and learn together, and travel on Jewish journeys together.

Oh, and for families who look forward to PJ Library Song & Story Times — we’re doing those too! After a summer break, they resume next Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. There will be weekly Song & Story Times at a number of venues in Seattle, starting next week, and monthly gatherings in Bellevue with our partner Temple B’nai Torah, starting September 16. Our Song & Story leaders Betsy Dischel and Chava Mirel are ready to bring smiles to faces with lively storytelling and uplifting music.

We’re so excited to open these doors for families in our growing community. It’s all about creating Jewish memories, strengthening Jewish identity, and making Jewish connections — at home, with each other in neighborhoods, and with the broader community.

As Rabbi Samuel Klein, Federation’s Director of Jewish Engagement, shares in an upcoming Jewish In Seattle magazine article, “PJ Library is profoundly about families. It is intergenerational by design and encourages a playful spirit in the way we approach Jewish life.”

We hope to see you around town at a PJ Library gathering!