Thursday, March 14, 2013

Welcoming the Littlest People of the Book

We are thrilled to announce that starting next Friday, March 22, the Museum of Jewish Heritage and PJ Library will launch TGIF Story Time a free, drop-in story hour series for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 3 to 7. 

The series, which will take place from 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 on select Fridays, will present warm, whimsical, and wonderful tales about traditions, holidays, and families. While enjoying a snack of challah and juice, children will listen to professional storytellers read from some of the most beloved books selected by PJ Library. 

TGIF Story Time will take place on March 22, April 5, April 19, May 3, May 17, and May 31. To celebrate the launch, each child will receive a free book and PJ Library tote bag at the first event on March 22.

 PJ Library is a non-profit program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which sends high-quality Jewish children’s books and CDs to families for free.

If you don’t already know PJ Library, I can tell you that as a mom, one of the things my toddler looks forward to most is getting books in the mail, just for her. In fact, over the past two months, many times when I open the mail box she has asked, “Is there a dinosaur book for me?” That’s how much she loved “How Does a Dinosaur Say Happy Hanukkah,” by Jane Yolen, just one of many excellent PJ Library selections.
For information on PJ Library, or to sign up, visit

For more information on TGIF Story Time, email or call 646.437.4202. Reservations are not needed. 

(Image: one of the PJ Library books for this month. It's a lift-the-flap book!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

10 Ways to Be Kind and Just ... The Kindness & Justice Challenge from the Students at PS 276

I left my apartment at 8:01 this morning, expecting to be at my desk checking e-mail at 8:45, but thanks to a signal malfunction, I exited the subway 20 minutes later than planned. Fuming, cranky, and annoyed, I strode down Battery Place with a purpose. On my way, I happened upon a large group of students flooding the sidewalk, and each one tried to hand me a piece of paper.
I looked down at the paper and saw that it was a hand-written flyer. Be Kind and Just!!! it exhorted in black marker. I have scanned the flyer to share with you so you, too, may know how to be kind and just.


Number 10, which is a little hard to read, says accept peoples differences [sic].
When I arrived at the office, I ran into several colleagues who were recipients of these documents. Inspired by the encounter, I contacted the school across the street to see if this was the origin of the roving band of up-standers. Indeed it was.
According to Mary Valentine, the Parent Coordinator at PS 276, the idea behind the challenge is to learn about historical figures who engaged in acts of kindness and justice, to reflect on one’s own actions as kind or just, and then to take action. Middle school classes were paired with elementary classes to teach the younger students about kindness and justice and then develop an action plan. Some created skits together, some wrote songs, some led workshops, but most worked together to create pamphlets in “an effort to promote kindness and justice to the general public.”

The students stayed in the general vicinity, making their way east, north, and south. Ms. Valentine participated in a similar program 13 years ago when she taught in Newark, but she introduced the idea to Battery Park City last year.
Ms. Valentine let me know that the 8th graders enjoyed their leadership roles and the younger students gained role models. She shared with me a comment from one of her 8th graders who had a particularly active bunch of 3rd graders to organize, especially outside. “Elementary school teachers should be given Nobel Peace Prizes.”

I think it is no coincidence that two institutions across the street from each other teach empathy and justice within their walls. We could not have better neighbors. Thanks for an inspiring day, PS 276.