The Southern Arizona Jewish community has been chosen to participate in a special initiative called PJ Goes to School.
Many local families already particpate in PJ LibraryTM, a national Jewish engagement program that mails free, high-quality Jewish literature to families raising Jewish
children. The program here is coordinated by Mary Ellen Loebl of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Coalition for Jewish Education. It is funded by local donors along with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
PJ Goes to School is dedicated to “enhancing the Jewish content of the classroom through the use of PJ Library’s beautifully illustrated Jewish story books to enrich and extend the early childhood curriculum, strengthen bonds between home and school and spark meaningful Jewish conversations in class, on the playground and at home,” says Loebl.
This initiative is taking place in the 3- and 4-year-old classrooms in the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s Early Childhood Education program and in Congregation Anshei Israel’s Ester B. Feldman Preschool and Kindergarten.
“Having even more quality books from this program is an extra added bonus. In addition, it is nice for the staff from the JCC, working in conjunction with our teachers, to be able to learn and share together,” says Lynn Falkow-Strauss, director of the preschool/kindergarten program at CAI.
Amy DeWitt, co-director of the ECE program at the JCC, concurs. “We are so excited to provide time for educators to discuss ideas, reflect on past successes with Jewish content and build relationships between our strong faculties,” says DeWitt. “We cannot imagine a better way to grow as educators using great literature.”