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Jan 14 2013

PJ Library Corner: A Tree is Nice, Indeed

By at 5:03 pm

a tree is nice children's picture book

In case you didn’t know, there’s a minor Jewish holiday coming up on January 25th called Tu Bishvat, and it’s all about trees.

Oftentimes referred to as the “New Year for Trees” or the “Birthday of the Trees,” Tu Bishvat comes as the trees in Israel just start to blossom (we know, we know, there’s still snow on the ground in many places right now, including Israel, but an early springtime celebration never hurts).

Anyways, back to the trees: many families celebrate Tu Bishvat by planting trees and celebrating all that they have to offer. This month, PJ Library, an organization that sends out free Jewish books to families each month, offered up a true gem, just in time for Tu Bishvat: A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, illustrated by Marc Simont. Originally published in 1956 and winner of the Caldecott Medal, this charming picture book is a throwback to a simpler time, and a reminder to soak in the wonder of nature all around us. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 13 2012

The Better Way to Read to Your Kids

By at 1:46 pm

siblings reading to each otherSometimes, while all four children are seated at the table, shoveling cheerios down their o-shaped mouths, I have tried to limit breakfast battles by reading a book.

It does not seem to matter what kind of book I read in the early hour; they all listen and concentrate on the tale at hand. With my children ranging from teen, tween and post-tot, it fascinates me that each child is able to enjoy the story, no matter what their reading level is. This has led me to think about the power of picture books and early reading comprehension. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 30 2012

Free Stuff Alert: Hanukkah Activity Book & Card Games

By at 9:29 am

hanukkah activity book emily sperThe gifts keep coming, and it’s not even Hanukkah yet! We’re excited to announce another giveaway, this time for some super fun Hanukkah-centric goodies for your kids.

Emily Sper is a children’s book author who has created a number of great Hanukkah books and activities for kids. Her book Hanukkah: A Counting Book has been a featured PJ Library book, and we’ve got two great supplements to give away: The Hanukkah Coloring & Activity Book and the Hanukkah Card Games Set.

To win this pair of Hanukkah fun, please sign up for our newsletter by clicking here, and then let us know once you have in the comments below. We’ll choose a winner next Wednesday, December 5th, so be sure to keep an eye on your comment that day, as we’ll reply to the winner.

hanukkah card games set emily sper

To see more of Emily Sper’s work, check out her website here.

To receive books like Emily’s in the mail for free every month, sign up for PJ Library. Families in the New York metro area can do so here, and anyone else can find their local community here.

Nov 13 2012

It’s Not Too Late to Vote

By at 3:31 pm

pj library kveller tzedakah campaignElection day may have come and gone, but voting is still going strong in Kveller and PJ Library’s $5,000 tzedakah giveaway!

We’ve got 10 amazing not-for-profit organizations (as nominated by you) competing for $5,000 from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and you can vote once a day, every day, until November 30th.

You may not get an “I Voted Today” sticker, but you can sure rest easy knowing you’re helping the charity of your choice.

Click here to vote today (and tomorrow, and the next day, etc.)!

**And remember, families in the New York metro area can still sign up to receive free Jewish books from PJ Library through Kveller by clicking here

Nov 1 2012

Let’s Vote… for Charity!

By at 12:28 pm

pj library kveller tzedakah campaignLast month, Kveller announced an initiative in conjunction with PJ Library to give $5,000 to one non-profit organization, as chosen by you, the readers of Kveller. The generous donation is coming from Harold Grinspoon, founder of PJ Library.

We received nearly 300 nominations for some truly amazing organizations out there, and we’ve now narrowed the list down to 10. The rest is up to you: voting has officially started today to choose the winner of our tzedakah extravaganza. You can vote once a day until November 30th by visiting our voting page here.

Help be a part of this wonderful opportunity by voting for the non-profit organization that you think deserves it. And remember, vote early and vote often!

Remember, if you live in the New York metro area, you can sign up for PJ Library through Kveller and receive amazing Jewish books and CDs in the mail every month.

Oct 3 2012

Who Would You Give $5000 To?

By at 9:55 am

pj library kveller tzedakah  campaign Have you ever wanted to drop a nice, big lump sum into the laps of those undertaking a specific cause or charity? Well, now is your chance. And you don’t have to spend a dime.

In the spirit of tzedakah, Harold Grinspoon, founder of PJ Library, will be giving a $5,000 donation to a non-political, cause-based U.S. nonprofit as chosen by the readers of Kveller and PJ Library.

HOW IT WORKS

The Kveller.com-PJ Library tzedakah effort will happen in three parts:

1. NOMINATION PERIOD (OCTOBER 2012)—  If you want to make sure your favorite non-political, cause-based U.S. nonprofit organization gets a shot at the big bucks, enter your nominations in the comments below. We will accept nominations up through Sunday, October 21st.

2. CURATING PROCESS — At the end of October, a group of Kveller.com and PJ Library representatives will read through the submitted comments and consider each nomination, tally “Likes,” and review the organizations. They will whittle the list of nominations down to 10 organizations.

3. VOTING PERIOD (NOVEMBER 2012)— During the month of November, Kveller.com readers and PJ Library families will be invited to vote for their favorite non-political, cause-based U.S. nonprofit organization. Whichever one of the 10 organizations receives the greatest number of votes will benefit from $5,000 donation from Harold Grinspoon.

So, get nominating! Use the Facebook-enabled comment fields below to nominate or support a deserving nonprofit organization. Help them get $5,000!

And for families in the New York Metro area, start getting free books every month from PJ Library through this partnership with Kveller.

Sep 14 2012

There are Stars in Your Apples

By at 10:36 am

In 1990, at 8 years old, I went away to sleepaway camp for the first time. My parents chose Camp Morasha in Pennsylvania, 3,000 miles away from my Seattle abode, partially because my father had attended years earlier, and partially because it was filled with my cousins. It also granted them an excuse to eat their way through New York’s kosher restaurants on their way to seeing us on Visiting Day, but this is a realization I only came to recently.

Is listening to stories a traditional sleepaway camp activity? At Morasha it certainly was. Every Shabbat morning, instead of a speech about that week’s Torah portion, we were told a story. It was always about the animals of the Magical Forest. We looked forward to hearing about Leah the Lion, Moishy the Monkey, Ze’ev the Wolf, and more. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 5 2012

We’re Giving Away Free Books

By at 1:49 pm

little girl reading PJ library bookDo you like reading books with your kids? What about Jewish books? What about free Jewish books?

You’re in luck.

Kveller is now offering free PJ Library subscriptions to families in the New York Metro area.

What You’ll Get:

- A free Jewish children’s book or CD every month

– Kveller’s semi-weekly e-newsletter full of insights from the smartest, savviest parents around

– Kveller’s forthcoming weekly New York e-newsletter featuring local events and activities for you and your kids

Eligibility: Families with one or more child between the ages of 6 months through 8 years in the New York Metro area are eligible to sign up.

Cost: Nothing. It’s a gift!

To sign up for PJ Library through Kveller.com, click here.

For those of you who don’t live in New York: Check out the PJ partners in ChicagoPhiladelphiaSan FranciscoAtlantaSeattle, and Dallas. For a list of all PJ communities, click here.

Feb 28 2012

My Mother is Horrified that I believe in God (and Drink Lychee Martinis)

By at 3:53 pm
Woody Allen was our God

Growing up, we thought this guy was our deity.

It can be really, really hard, as a Reform Jew, to actually admit that religion involves…God. I know that sounds silly, but I think there are a lot of us who want to live Jewish lives, but who grew up in an environment where religion was either an afterthought or very openly expressed as “something we do culturally and for the community, but not…you know…to believe in.” My parents are proud atheists, my mother’s a “cultural Jew,” and my grandfather warned us that he might seem to get more religious as he aged, but that would only be his fear of death, and we should remain rational. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 9 2011

Friday Night: It’s Not Hanukkah Yet?

By at 2:21 pm

Please, please, can't it be time for Hanukkah yet?

As I’ve explained before, we’ve been working hard on creating a family Shabbat with our 2-year-old. (It’s pretty amazing what the kid learns from a little Tot Shabbat, a Kveller singalong, and some awesome books from PJ Library.)

Every Friday night, we light candles, drink some grape juice, and eat some challah. Abigail knows that when we light the candles we cover our eyes, and she knows the order of the blessings, and though she can’t say the words yet, she knows to say “AMEN!” at the end. She calls it Shabbat-time, which I think is so adorable I can’t stand it.

Last Friday, my husband was getting ready to leave for work and he said, “Abigail, tonight when I get home we’ll do Shabbat-time together.” With palpable excitement, she responded, “And dreidel and presents?” He explained, “No sweetie, that’s Hanukkah. Tonight is Shabbat. Hanukkah is in a few weeks.”

Abigail got really quiet. I figured everything was fine, until she burst into hysterical tears. You know the kind–huge drops of water rolling down her face, nose instantly running, the kind of loud screams that make the neighbors think you need an ambulance? This kid was so upset that it wasn’t Hanukkah yet. Of course, my husband and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Eventually I got her to calm down by reading our latest PJ Library book, Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah.

Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, you can’t come soon enough in our house.

Shabbat shalom!

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