Re-imagining young family engagement

Federation's Director of Outreach and Engagement, Jennifer Cohen, and Fiona Anavi, a volunteer co-chair of Federation's Shalom Families outreach initiative, just returned from the 9th Annual PJ Library Conference. We are very proud that Jennifer was chosen as one of the presenters at the conference.

You can read about the conference and their experiences in an article Jennifer has written for Federation's PJ Library page, but I want to share a portion of Jennifer's article with you today:

The goal of the conference was to share knowledge, make connections, grow local engagement programs and build friendships -- all with the shared goal of making Judaism accessible for Jewish families in our local communities and around the world! According to the latest Pew Report, 65% of Jewish families are not engaged in Jewish life, and much of the conference was devoted to re-imagining young family engagement and removing barriers to welcome all Jewish families into our community.

Since its inception nine years ago, PJ Library has sent an incredible 18,000,000+ books all over the world to families raising Jewish children. One of the highlights of the conference was an overview of findings from the 2016 PJ Family Results Survey and the powerful impact PJ Library is having on Jewish engagement in homes and local communities. Of the 20,000+ survey respondents, an amazing 99% of Jewish families receiving PJ Library books feel proud to be Jewish!

Here in Orlando, it is an honor for the Jewish Federation to be part of the Jewish journey of so many families. Nearly 550 families each month receive PJ Library books, and another 80 participants join us every four to six weeks at our community engagement programs. PJ Library Greater Orlando was recently approved as one of 17 new PJ Our Way Partner Communities. Tweens who are about to age out of PJ Library can enroll in PJ Our Way, for ages 8.5 to 11, and select their own Jewish-themed chapter book each month. We are currently working with a tween and mom committee, and we are looking forward to bringing engagement programs to tweens in the new school year! Be sure to check out our "commercial" introducing PJ Our Way Orlando, starring our very own tween committee!

Every minute of the three-day conference was filled with workshops, presentations, and informal conversations, even during meals. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to co-lead the Tikkun Olam/Social Action Program session, where 27 attendees learned more about how we implement our own open-space programs in Orlando, and I shared our program design for a Tikkun Olam Park Cleanup Day.

If you want to see what some of our local PJ Library programs look like, we invite you to view photos and videos at our PJ Library Greater Orlando Facebook page. Please be sure to "like" PJ Library Greater Orlando after your visit.

In our community, PJ Library is made possible by your contributions to the Federation's annual campaign and by generous support from several families: Ed and Phyllis Zissman, Marc and Henrietta Katzen, Eli and Ina Porth, and Ed and Marian Bromberg.


Thank you and Shabbat Shalom,