From A Lesbian Mother, A Letter To PJ Library: This Hurts
Thu, 03/06/2014
The Purim Superhero has two dads. The author is one of two moms. Via keshetonline.org
The Purim Superhero has two dads. The author is one of two moms. Via keshetonline.org

Dear Trustees:

My two daughters have been receiving PJ Library books since they were babies, and I am very grateful to you for the monthly gift, which has helped me teach them about Jewish holidays, traditions and values.

I wanted to share with you my disappointment that you've chosen not to send the book The Purim Superhero to all your members, but only to families who specifically request it. I know you put a lot of thought into this decision, and that's part of the reason I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

As a proud Jewish mother and a proud lesbian, I aim to surround my children with a rich Jewish life. But I have to be honest with you. When I read things like your blog post "In Search of the Perfect Gifts," coupled with your decision not to make this book available the same way you do so many others, it hurts. And it makes me wonder whether the Jewish community you are creating really wants me as a member.

The message that you send to families like mine (and there are lots of Jewish LGBT people and families) is that we are second class. That families like ours should only be read about by children whose parents go to the great lengths of finding out that you are offering the book and then ordering it. That our lives are so marginal that you could not possibly send a book that features a family like ours to everybody, because further marginalizing LGBT families is a lesser evil than offending homophobes.

I hope you can understand the pain this message causes, especially to those of us for whom Judaism is so central.

LGBT families are in synagogues. We are in Day Schools. We are in Jewish summer camps and Hebrew schools. Wouldn't it be wonderful for the children you serve with PJ Library to see us in a book too?

I have to tell you, there are PJ Library books that don't conform to my beliefs or politics, and when they arrive, I just set them aside and move on. Why not let people who are offended by this book do the same?

I know it's a little early in the year, but I will say, L'Shana HaBa'ah, I hope you will send the book out to everyone, and that you will continue to find books about diverse Jewish families and share them with the children and families you serve.

Sincerely,

Naomi Sunshine

 

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Comments

If you don't want your child to read a book they receive from PJ, don't open the envelope in front of your child and pass unwanted ones along. I often do the same with PJ titles that I find too simplistic, contain grammatical errors (many do), or too strongly promote restrictive and sexist gender roles.

I read this and cant believe the stupidity we Jews will argue over. Better you deal with Real issues - Israel is under assault from the US Government. Lets get Jonathan Pollard released from prison. Lets stand up to the BDS movement. Just because people disagree with your choices, it does not mean they do not accept you as a Jew. And if they do then it is their problem.

I am so glad you said this because it highlights one of the biggest growing issues facing the Jews; we are replacing Judaism with Israel. The author is talking about Judaism and you say the "Real issues" for us should be Israel, a spy for Israel and a boycott of Israel. We Jews talk about Israel so much more than Torah anymore, we stress to our kids visiting Israel but not synagogue, and when we do go to synagogue, the Rabbis talk about Israel more than Torah (the foundation of Judaism), our local Jewish papers write about Israel more than local Jewish events... Israel is great, but it is not synonymous with Judaism.

Agreed 100%.

Naomi, you should watch the documentary "Trembling Before God". When it comes to rejecting gays and lesbians, ultra Orthodox Jews are right up there with fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. It may be the only thing they agree on. A Conservative synagogue that I am familiar with does not accommodate same sex weddings.

I'm always sad to read the comments and find ignorance. What's the worst thing that could happen from a kid reading this book? Suddenly they have empathy and understand that not every family looks the same? Oh the horror! (I'm being sarcastic.) Seriously, at least read the book before you shit all over it. Whatever awful things you are imagining do not exist.

A friend of mine who has worked for inclusion of everyone in the Jewish world advised me regarding this being an "optional" or "extra" book, "It's a step in the right direction born from two years of lobbying. Hopefully it's not the end of the discussion. If their entire stock of Purim Superhero gets claimed this year, that will help show the demand/support for it."

I think we should be thrilled that the Jewish community is becoming more inclusive and as my friend noted that steps are being taken in the right direction.

I agree that I wish this book was sent to everyone. I have emailed them before we have a multiracial family and the books that we get each month do not represent our family. I agree that PJ library should be sending a more diverse section of books.

I do not want my kids to read this and this is my right.

I am sorry to hear that you are hurt.
Nevertheless that does not mean that everyone must read the books you approve of.

Just as Ms Sunshine can set aside the books with which she disagrees, you have the right to do the same. No one has said you MUST read everything which the PJ Library sends to your home.

sorry to tell you, but in Judaism you are way BELOW second glass citizens due to your rejection of everything Jewish since the times of the avot! Being Jewish means continuing the mesorah of following the Torah. You cant just make it up as you go along.

Chaim, the Torah does not allow for first or second class Jews. You're either Jewish or you're not. And that is the Mesorah. BTW, according to the Mesorah, the second Temple was destroyed by needless hatred (sinat hinam), sad to see that you are continuing that tradition.

Perhaps you can cite a section of Torah specifically forbidding lesbianism. If not, go and learn.

I almost never comment online, but this comment is a bit much, don't you think? Why spew such hatred for your fellow Jew online (even if you believe that she is "BELOW [a] second glass [sic] citizen"?

Wonderful piece.

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