PJ Library

Parents: Read 'The Purim Superhero' To Your Children

The decision to embrace, through kids' books, the richness and diversity of Jewish life is a gift.

03/24/2014

Nate couldn’t decide what he wanted to be for Purim – follow his heart and dress as an alien or succumb to peer pressure and wear a superhero costume? It was a tough decision for a little boy, but he got some help from his two dads.

JFNA encourages parents to read a diversity of books about our diverse community to their children. Via keshetline.org

From A Lesbian Mother, A Letter To PJ Library: This Hurts

03/06/2014
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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.

The Purim Superhero has two dads. The author is one of two moms. Via keshetonline.org

PJ Library-Like Program Comes To Jaffa

Israel’s reading-readiness project provides 45,000 schoolchildren with Arabic-language children’s books.

02/26/2014
Israel Correspondent
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Jaffa, Israel — The children at the Arabic-speaking Ofek preschool in Jaffa have spent a lot of time this month thinking about a mouse named Soumsoum, the character of a picture book all the kids read with their parents at home. 

Jaffa preschoolers work on art project about “Soumsoum the Mouse” as part of program modeled on PJ Library. Michele Chabin/JW

New Developments In The Classroom And Beyond

New Jewish studies curriculum for special-needs students; family history project through PELIE; Shalem Center to become liberal arts college.

01/08/2013

Hidden Sparks Grows

Hidden Sparks recently unveiled the first part of a new Judaic studies curriculum at its sixth annual retreat, attended by 40 educators from 30 day schools in New York, New Jersey and Baltimore.

The group, which addresses the needs of diverse learners, works to help Jewish educators discover, understand and support all the students in their classrooms, including those with learning difficulties.

Aviva Stern, a teacher at Yeshiva Har Torah and a Hidden Sparks coach, said that “doing Hidden Sparks work has impacted me tremendously as a teacher to my students and in all of my relationships. Being trained to be attuned to individual’s strengths and weaknesses will continue to affect even my parenting style and how I relate to my extended family.”

Hidden Sparks aims to identify students whose potential has not yet been reached in school and in life. Founded in New York six years ago with a pilot program in seven schools, the program currently serves almost 40 schools in New York, including Ramaz in Manhattan, Bnos Pupa of Williamsburg and The Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. Through a Covenant Foundation grant, Hidden Sparks has also partnered with SHEMESH in Baltimore and REACH in Chicago, and has trained educators in Nashville, New Orleans, Tampa, Fla., and Hollywood, Fla., to bring their programs and curriculum to those cities.

A three-time recipient of the Slingshot Award, which recognizes the 50 most innovative Jewish organizations each year, Hidden Sparks is currently working with 281 teachers. Since its inception, Hidden Sparks has trained more than 1,000 teachers and has reached an estimated 10,000 students.

Debbie Niderberg, executive director of Hidden Sparks, said, “Our core curriculum and approach introduces the skills, strategies and sensitivities of special education into mainstream classes. We believe this enhanced understanding positions both teachers and students for greater success. By using a mentoring and school-based delivery model and by training ‘Internal Coaches’ in diverse learning, we believe that the program will have the greatest and most sustained impact over time on the students, teachers, and school culture.”

Hidden Sparks has also spurred additional programs, like Hidden Sparks Without Walls (HSWOW), which brings free audio and online hour-long classes to educators to enhance their knowledge of the field of diverse learning. To date, 1000 participants from 95 schools in 21 states have participated in the 45 webinars offered. In an effort to share its expertise with parents Hidden Sparks launched HSWOW Parent Connection, a free webinar series. Additionally, the group offers School Change Administrative Leadership Endeavor, or SCALE, for principals. Hidden Sparks funding comes from individuals, foundations, government and Jewish charities, including UJA-Federation of New York.

— Staff Report

Three of the winning “tikkun olam” drawings in the Grinspoon Foundation “Voices & Vision” program.

Child Artists Win Contest, iPads

12/14/2012
Associate Editor

Most children like making art, but they aren't usually compensated for their work.

However, posters created by 8-year-old Amarya Levy-Mazie, of Brooklyn, 9-year-old Sophia Trigub of Fairlawn, N.J. and 10 other children around the country, were rewarded with new iPads.

Sophia, 9, created this award-winning poster for the Voices & Visions program. Photo courtesy Harold Grinspoon Foundation

From PJ To Posters

Harold Grinspoon commissions and distributes ‘Voices & Visions’ series.

10/11/2012
Staff Writer

In the weeks after Sukkot, a staff meeting at the Shorefront Y in Brighton Beach will begin with a dozen employees of the Brooklyn facility looking at a few posters.

Harold Grinspoon calls the PJ Library poster series he commissioned "informal education." Photo courtesy PJ Library

PJ Library For The Sabra Set

Sifriyat Pajama B’America, now in nine schools here, targets expat community.

05/15/2012
Associate Editor

In the past year, Brooklyn’s Hannah Senesh Community Day School has launched two major initiatives: increasing its outreach to Brownstone Brooklyn’s largely unaffiliated Jewish population (growing numbers of whom are Israeli) and improving its Hebrew curriculum.

Gila Milstein with her husband Adam.  Sifriyat Pajama B’America

A Love Note To Eden Village Camp

It’s been a busy and fairly Jew-y week and a half, both with family and work, and there’s a lot to write about once I have time to collect my thoughts.
I have not forgotten my promise to write about last week’s Judaism 2030 conference, and I also want to write about my daughters’ last day (for the academic year, not for their whole lives) of Hebrew school.

However, the topic for today is Family Camp at Eden Village. Which my daughters and I attended this weekend. And really liked.

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