A message from Lisa Libin, President Calgary Jewish Federation

Lisa Libin, President Calgary Jewish Federation

by Lisa Libin 

(Calgary) – Although it’s nearly two months since the end of winter break, I find myself still missing the quieter two weeks in December where I loved having some time to sit, read, and even finish a few good books.

I love reading. It’s something I have always held a special passion for since childhood and made a priority to demonstrate the same enjoyment of reading to my own children from the time they were babies.

It was perfect timing that when I moved back to Calgary in 2011 with a six-month-old in tow, PJ Library® was waiting for us with open arms. As my oldest daughter grew to appreciate books, it was always an exciting time in our house when a new PJ book arrived in the mail addressed to her. At the time, I don’t think that I truly appreciated the abundance of benefits the program brought to my family.

Not only did the books allow us to explore holidays and Jewish themes, but the program in itself expanded our own personal community. It was always so special to attend PJ programs with our own friends, but more importantly, to meet new ones – ones that continue to be important people in our life so many years later.

I have also been so fortunate for PJ Library to grow with my family. My daughter was thrilled to graduate to the PJ Our Way® (PJOW) chapter books, and my son has been excited to participate in the newly established PJOW programs that have included swimming, trips to the trampoline park, pizza parties, and more.

When I tell friends outside our community that there is a program that gives Jewish kids free books every month and participate in monthly activities for minimal cost (if any), I can personally tell you they express how unique and special this is. There are so many parents in Calgary seeking connections with other families, along with activities for their children – and Calgary Jewish Federation offers this solution to any and all Jewish parents. How amazing is that?

I think about how, right now, community is so very important in my world. Jewish Calgary is my reprieve in a world full of hate, and if my kids were younger I know that PJ Library would be an even more crucial program in not only helping to reinforce my own Jewish pride with my PJ community, but also helping to develop this in my own children.

Your generous UJA donations help fund PJ Library by supporting connections with reading, Jewish learning, and community building. We are so fortunate to also have in place the PJ Library Legacy Endowment Fund that is currently over $300,000 – all to support the long-term viability of our local PJ Library programming and subscriptions. There is currently a matching grant incentive for donations received before March 31, 2024, in which the Harold Greenspoon Foundation will match 25% of cash legacy gifts with no minimum to participate!

Particularly in a time when Jewish connection and pride is more important than ever, it is wonderful to know that PJ Library exists – and will continue to exist – to support our families and children. PJ books can also help families with difficult conversations in this complex and polarizing environment by giving parents the tools to engage in developmentally appropriate discussions on topics including combatting antisemitism and encountering hate. It can also serve as a tool for those who did not grow up with a strong Jewish foundation but want to ensure their own children or grandchildren love and celebrate all things Jewish.

Regardless of your Jewish background, knowledge, family make-up, or observance level, it is necessary to prepare our children for a future in which they will face hard moments but also feel pride in celebrating the good ones. As a proud PJ Library parent, I can confidently say this invaluable program accomplishes this and I encourage all of you to give generously to ensure this one-of-a-kind program continues to thrive while remaining free and accessible to our Jewish families.

Lisa Libin is President, Calgary Jewish Federation.

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