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June 30, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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June 30, 2017

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 30, 2017 : PAGE 3A he rise of "Party Teachers from across Central Florida attended the annual Teacher's Institute. From June4-9th, educa-teachers dedicated to ex- discussed parallelsbetween Bloomer, guest speakers tors from around the state panding their knowledge events in Germany in the encouraged open dialogue gathered at the Holocaust for themSelves and for their 1920s and things that are about what we could learn Memorial Resource and Ed- students, happening in our society from the past. Guestspeako ucation Center inMaitland Bailey Clark, the Center's today " ers included Eric Ross for their annual Teacher's Education Coordinator,tn addition to corn- from the Anti-Defamation Institute on Holocaustsaid, "This year's focus prehensive history les- League and Holocaustsur- education. The Center was was on the Nazi Party's sons from the Center'svivor Gene Klein, among thrilled to see so many rise to power, so teachers resource teacher, Mitch others. The guest speakers, in addition to Bloomer's the anti-Semitic feel ings in teaching, createdadynamic Germany. As a teacher, I and poignant program that was asked about this often will give the educators am- and I can now provide more pie material for discussion meaningful answers." in their own classrooms. As For more information stated by one attendee, "I about the Holocaust Cen- am thrilled to have deeper ter and its programs, visit knowledge of the origins of ApopularJewishchildren's ages 6 months to 8 years, PJ Library's Triennial book program is helping to with each subscriber receiv- Family Survey, which was preserve the richness and ing a title carefully selected released Tuesday, found vibrancy of Jewish culture, for high-quality content and that the program plays an one book at a time. age-level appropriateness, important role in the lives PJ Library, the flagship pro- A newly released national of Jewish families regardless gramoftheHaroldGrinspoon survey found that Orlando of background. However, it Foundation, delivers more familieswhoparticipateinthe is also more likely to influ- than 170,000 free Jewish chil- PJ Library program say it has ence interfaith families than dren's books and music CDs influenced or supported how inmarried families when it througl~outtheUnitedStates they talk about and practice comes to celebrating Jewish andCanadaeachmonth.That Jewish traditions in their holidays and learning more subscriber base includes 540 home. Ninety-eight percent about Judaism. In fact, in families in Central Florida, of local survey respondents Greater Orlando 100 percent where PJ Library is adminis- say PJ Library helps them of interfaith families who teredbytheJewishFederation have conversations about responded say PJ Library has of Greater Orlando. Jewish traditions, values and increased their confidence to Books are sent to children customs with their children, engage their children around New and improved Jewish tradition By Fiona Anavi First person Let's redefine Jewish. Let's make it bigger, broader and more inclusive. That was my biggest takeaway from the annual PJ Library conference in Reister- stown, Md., that I attended in April with Jennifer Cohen, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando's director of Outreach and Engagement. The conference was set at the Pearlman Institute, which is a Jewish farm/conference center with Hebrew signage everywhere and super-yummy, healthy, farm-to-table food. Pearlman and PJ made me feel like I was being hugged by a Jewish grandmother the whole time. So what's the value of being more inclusive? It's the key to bringing Judaism into the now and into the future. It means being friendlier, more open and more ready to receive those who are intermarried or who are Jewish by choice. Single moms? Sure. Interracial couples? Yes. Those who had a bad Jewish experience in childhood? Let us heal you. Why? Because if we want to keep our culture and traditions alive, we need people to pass it on to lots of people. Am I proud to be Jewish? Absolutely, and apparently I'm not alone. In the latest PJ Library national survey, 99 percent of respondents said they are proud of their Jewish heritage, too! I've been through a lot in my life, and the Jewish community has helped me stay strong. However, I must admit, I didn't even really know how to be Jewish before I had children. That's the beauty of PJ Library: It doesn't just teach the children the joys, honors and responsibilities of being Jewish; it teaches the parents. Free books that's where it all begins. Just free Jewish books. PJ Library sends more than 170,000 books every month to families all over the world. They aren't religious tales but rather moral ones. Mitzvahs! That's the core of being Jewish to me: community and mitzvahs. If our heart is pure and our community is healthy, being Jewish will become more and more of an honor for us all. Once the kids and parents love the books, it's time to build the community. Jennifer Cohen is doing that right here in Greater Orlando for the Federation with her warm, cozy, crafty PJ Library/Shalom Families events, which are all about bringing families together. So let's embrace inclusiveness! I am so proud of how strong we all are. We have seen so much ugliness and still we are standing. Let's stand even stronger and leave not one child or parent who wants to be Jewish feeling alone or unwanted. We want you. You are Jewish, and we are proud. Fiona Anavi is the volunteer co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando's Shalom Families committee. Jewish traditions, values and customs. "Working to preserve a strong Jewish community for future generations is at the heart of everything we do at the Foundation and through PJ Library," said Harold Grinspoon, the founder of PJ Library. "Books are a natural way to invite people into a global community and to pass values and traditions on to the next generation, ensuring our children and their children grow up connected to their Jewish heritage." To ensure that parents are equipped to talk with their children about Jewish values and traditions, PJ Library includes information for parents on the inside flaps of each book, and provides tips and resources on its blog. This approach has resonated with parents, with 91 percent of Orlando respondents call- ing the program a valuable parenting tool and 92 percent saying it has helped them think about the kind of Jewish practice they want to have in their home. In addition to creating con- nections between families, PJ Library is fostering meaning- ful communal ties in Orlando. "By nearly every measure, PJ Library has been a valuable engagement tool for our com- munity," said Jennifer Cohen, the Federation's Director of Outreach and Engagement, who Coordinates the program locally. "It was especially heartening to see that 78 per- cent of the Orlando survey respondents are interested in getting more connected to local Jewish activities, organizations and people as a direct result of their positive PJ Library experiences." Through its PJ Library/Sha- lom Families program, the Federation gives PJ Library participants the opportunity to connect with other young families through regular com- munity events, many of which incorporate a PJ Library story, PJ Library books are sent free to children ages 6 months to 8 years. In Orlando, 540 families receive the books. The Jewish Federation's PJ Library~Shalom Families events bring young families together for uniquely Jewish experiences. Many of the programs incorporate a lesson, story or character from PJ Library books. character or value into the theme. The most recent was a Tikkun Olam Park Cleanup Day on Sunday at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford. Under Cohen's leadership, community engagement among young Jewish families has thrived, with many recent events filled to capacity. Clearly, Cohen says, PJ Library is about much more than books. "We're providing our young families with the Jewish expe- rience, which is at the heart of the Federation's mission," Cohen says. -The survey found that in Orlando, 94 percent of people who attended a PJ Library/ Shalom Families program were "very likely" to recom- mend them to a friend or fam- ily member, far outpacing the national average of 77 percent for similar-size communities. "We love welcoming 'first- timers' to Federation commu- nity events--48 new families so far this year," Cohen says. "They enjoy the experience so much that they come back-- and they bring their friends. That's how a community grows, and we're so glad to have PJ Library as a tool to spur that growth." Parents of children 6 months to 8 years old can request a PJ Library subscrip- tion at