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PJ Library delivers its 100,000th book in Britain

Milestone for the charity which offers free Jewish books to young children

    Avid readers: Olive and Lexi Robinson (photo; Danielle Manson)
    Avid readers: Olive and Lexi Robinson (photo; Danielle Manson)

    PJ Library, the charity which distributes free Jewish books to young children, is accepting new applications after gaining additional funding.

    Last year, it had to cap the service at 4,500 children, leaving other families on a waiting-list.

    But now subscriptions have risen to 5,000 and there are hopes to reach 7,000 children this year.

    On Monday, it delivered its 100,000th book in the UK — a copy of Avi the Ambulance Goes to School — to twins Olive and Lexi Robinson, aged three, in Finchley. Their older brother Levi, who is six, is a PJ reader, too.

    Eli Robinson, their father, said: “We love receiving PJ Library books as it keeps the whole family in touch with our Jewish heritage, traditions and festivals.
     
    “Our son doesn’t go to a Jewish primary school, so this is a way to keep him engaged in our special religion. The girls get very excited and run upstairs to get their PJ Shabbat books when we light the candles on Friday night, and we all enjoy sitting down and reading them together. 

    “There are so many PJ stories that get read again and again, but they particularly enjoy hearing Chanukah-themed stories read all year round.”

    PJ members from six months to eight years receive a free book each month. Launched in the United States by philanthropist Harold Grinspoon in 2005, the library stretches to 500-plus titles, many specifically commissioned by it.

    Books now go out across the world in English, Hebrew, Russian and Spanish editions. Apart from the book service, its British branch, opened three years ago, ran 200 events for families with synagogues and organisations across the community in 2017.

    PJ Library Radio also streams free Jewish music for children via the internet.

    Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, Harold’s daughter-in-law and president of the foundation which helps to sponsor the library, said: “Our ultimate goal is to make the programme available to anyone who requests it.”

    It still has to raise funds to meet its UK budget of £600,000 this year but half of the remaining £140,000 has already been pledged. “For every £1 raised, we already have a donor who will match that,” Ms Sandler Grinspoon said.

    While books come free, families are invited to contribute to the charity, said PJ Library’s UK director, Lauren Hamburger. “Last year, we asked people for a £40 donation and we raised over £20,000  that way.” 

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