With PJ Library Grant, CJF Connects Jewish Families Across Lowcountry

Charleston area families raising Jewish children will now have more opportunities to participate in Jewish life, thanks to a grant recently awarded by PJ Library®, the flagship program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which provides free books to families raising Jewish children all over the world.

Charleston Jewish Federation received $8,000 to expand their PJ Library Connectors Program, which connects local Jewish children and their families to each other, the local Jewish community and their own personal Jewish journey through the empowerment of local volunteers. In return for their hard work, they receive a budget and leadership development opportunities.  

Over the past year, Charleston Jewish Federation piloted a Connectors Program for families with pre-school aged children. Monthly playgroups with Jewish content popped up all over town, from the beach to the Charleston Aquarium’s playground to Michael’s Craft Store. The events introduced upcoming Jewish holidays in low barrier and age-specific ways, such as making Kiddush cups before Passover while running around on the playground.

“Charleston is honored to receive this grant, and thrilled to be part of the global PJ Library community reaching more than 125,000 families,” said Sharyn Bluestein, PJ Library Program Professional. “With this grant, we will be able to expand the Connectors Program to include volunteers that will actively engage with every age, from our Shalom Baby program to PJ Our Way, geared for tweens. Programming and engagement opportunities will be developed that take into account the age of the children attending, and will expand to cover outlying areas such as the Jewish community in Summerville”

The 13 winning grant proposals were chosen through a competitive process open to organizations implementing PJ Library across North America. A survey of 800 participants in previous grant-funded projects showed:

  • 85% of families connected socially during the programs
  • 64% of families followed up with the social connections afterward
  • 76% of families sought out or attended other Jewish programs
  • 99% would recommend the programs to friends

“PJ Library’s impact goes well beyond the more than 170,000 books we send out each month across the United States and Canada,” said Judi Wisch, director of community engagement for PJ Library. “We have worked closely with our local partners for years to help advance Jewish family engagement, and now we are able to add financial support to help ensure the success of great initiatives.”

Part of a five-year strategy to expand Jewish engagement in North America, these grants are funded through the PJ Library Alliance. Partners in the Alliance are the Azrieli Foundation; Carl and Joann Bianco; the Crown Family; William Davidson Foundation; William and Audrey Farber Philanthropic Fund; Genesis Philanthropy Group; Diane and Guilford Glazer/ Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles; Jim Joseph Foundation; The Marcus Foundation, Inc.; Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation; Mike and Sofia Segal Family Foundation; Susser Family Trust; Walter, Arnee, Sarah, and Aaron Winshall; Zucker Family Foundation; and two anonymous partners.

For more information about PJ Library in Charleston, contact: Sharyn Bluestein, Director of Family Engagement, Charleston Jewish Federation: sharynb@jewishcharleston.org


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