The government of Israel and a North American foundation are partnering on a literacy program for Israeli pre-schoolers.
Israel’s government will invest $500,000 to bring to Israel the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ Library, which in the U.S. gives to more than 100,000 Jewish children free books with Jewish content.
The program has existed in Israel on a small scale, but the government’s boost will help the give free books each month to some 40,000 underserved children. Sifriyat Pijama, as it is known in Hebrew, will distribute books through Israel's schools.
The PJ Library was founded in 2005 in the model of Imagination Library, a program developed by Dolly Parton to increase literacy among financially disadvantaged youth. In North America, The PJ Library partners with Federations and Jewish Community Centers to primarily provide books to the homes of Jewish children without consideration of financial need. The idea of The PJ Library is to engage children and their families in the Jewish culture and traditions by providing books and CDs as gifts sent directly to their homes.
Sifriyat Pijama is different in that the books are being distributed through the schools and will go to children whose families have reduced or restricted financial means. The program in Israel combines the goals of The PJ Library and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.
“It is exciting for us to see that the Israeli Ministry of Education finds the Sifriyat Pijama program worthy of such a large investment,” says Joanna S. Ballantine, executive director of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.