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PJ Library Helps Mayerson JCC Connect Jewish Families

Grants will strengthen social connections and increase opportunities for Jewish experiences

Cincinnati-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.

The Mayerson JCC received $15,000 to launch PJ Parent Connectors, a new program to find and engage Jewish families, especially those new to the area or PJ Library, in smaller, socially based settings.

Tracy Newman, director of community engagement for PJ Library, says, “These dollars have a literal impact on Jewish communal life in our partner communities. The grants showcase PJ Library’s best practices for engaging a wide range of families in vibrant, dynamic Jewish life.” 

“The Mayerson JCC is honored to receive this grant and thrilled to be part of the global PJ Library community reaching more than 667,000 children and their families across 37 countries,” said Marisa Phillips, PJ Library coordinator. “Creating low-barrier ways for families to meet one another and get engaged in Jewish community life in Cincinnati will help make the area more vibrant and welcoming.”

Cincinnati’s PJ Parent Connectors will focus on connecting families for individual coffee or ice cream dates, inviting them to programs, hosting playdates in neighborhoods around the city, and attending other youth family programs where they can meet new families. We are pleased to introduce the following people as the PJ Connectors in Cincinnati: Tammy Gilckman, Rachel Sofferin Blatman, Stefanie (Clayton) Swiger, and Emily (Zemboch) Werbel. 

The 20 winning grant proposals were chosen through a competitive process open to organizations implementing PJ Library across the United States and Canada. A survey of 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

“It is our pleasure to amplify the amazing work of Jewish communities across the US and Canada,” said Jessica Emerson McCormick, director of engagement for PJ Library. “We work hand-in-hand with our partners to make sure that we are going well beyond the books to support the rich engagement work that is right for each unique market.”

Each month, the Mayerson JCC, in partnership with PJ Library, sends 900+ Jewish children’s books to more than 600 Jewish families in our community. There is no cost for the families because the JCC covers the annual fee for each of the PJ Library subscriptions. It takes many supporters to provide the resources needed so that the JCC can continue to provide free PJ Library books and programs for our community.

We are grateful to the organizations and people who make PJ Library possible in Cincinnati. The program is done in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, with generous funding from Anne Heldman, the Fisher Family (founding sponsor), and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

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