Parents of PJ Library - Meet Shira Epstein – Kveller
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PJ Library

Parents of PJ Library – Meet Shira Epstein

We all love getting a little peek into other people’s lives–Humans of New York, the wedding announcements in the New York Times, interviews with athletes in Sports Illustrated–you name it, we all love to click on it. So, we figured–why not the parents of PJ Library?

Who are the over 20,000 families receiving PJ Library books in the New York area? What are their favorite and least favorite parts of this whole parenting thing? What do they do with their PJ Library books? Don’t worry–we won’t be interviewing all 20,000, but we will be bringing you a series of interviews with PJ Library parents just like yourself.

Shira D. Epstein is a single mom who lives in Harlem, New York. She has a 6-year-old son.

Favorite Jewish food:

Gefilte fish from a loaf, NOT from a jar with the weird jelly stuff.

Favorite Jewish holiday:

Shavuot, because it is so low-maintenance and we eat cheesecake.

What is your favorite part of the day as a parent? Your least favorite?

My favorite part of the day is when my child asks to come and cuddle on my bed with me before going to his bed for sleep time. He often asks me, “How was your day?” and we talk about his day.

My least favorite is the inevitable rush out of the house in the morning. I often lose my patience.

Many kids seem to have a PJ Library book they love to read over and over again. Which of your PJ Library books is wearing away at the seams?

A particular favorite is “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat”. He also often picks out the one with Grover and Tikkun Olam (I forget the name).

What is your favorite bedtime or reading ritual with your child?

Reading has always been a part of our routine, even when he was an infant. We now read two chapters from a book or one picture book each night, and then he reads on his own for 45 minutes. We love books!

Also, I have always sung “sh’ma” and “Sing a Song” from Sesame Street, and give him a little speech in which I let him know that “I love you now, and forever, and for always.”

What is your favorite family tradition, Jewish or otherwise?

After lighting Shabbat candles and saying Shabbat Shalom, we say, “I hope this week is safe, healthy, and happy.”

What do you love about Judaism/being Jewish?

I love connecting to the rhythm of the seasons and helping my child to recognize the ways in which the holidays evolved from ancient seasonal rituals and communal gatherings.

Has a PJ Library book inspired you or your family to do anything new or differently?

We have the PJ Library “Kindness Chart” up on our refrigerator. We try to pay attention to it and pick out acts of kindness to do as a family.

Do you have a favorite Hebrew or Yiddish word or phrase?

It’s totally not family-friendly, but I use the descriptor of “fercockt” all the time. Maybe I feel OK with it because it’s Yiddish and sounds fun.


PJ NY logo Newsletter SizeThis post is sponsored by PJ Library New York, a program that provides free Jewish children’s books, music, and events to families with young children in the New York metropolitan area.  Click here to learn more and sign up.


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