On Sunday, August 29, from 3-4:30 pm, the Ithaca Area United Jewish Community will host a celebration in honor of the upcoming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at the Small Pavilion in Stewart Park in Ithaca. The event is designed for young families, but those who are “young at heart” are welcome, as well. There will be craft activities related to the holiday and a “Make a Joyful Noise” drumming circle at 3:45 pm led by musician Sam Fishman. Children can make their own percussion instruments before the drumming begins. In addition, Rabbi Dovid Birk, of the Roitman Chabad Center at Cornell, will blow the shofar. This will be the first in-person festivity since the beginning of the pandemic. The event is being co-sponsored by Chabad at Cornell, Congregation Tikkun v’Or and Temple Beth-El.
The family program is one of several that, under normal circumstances, are held throughout the year by Ithaca Area United Jewish Community to bring together young families who subscribe to the PJ Library Jewish storybook program. This is a free subscription program; to find out more, visit www.pjlibrary.org. No formal affiliation to a Jewish institution is required to be a subscriber. “In fact, many subscribers use the books as a way to learn about Jewish holidays, traditions and values,” said organizers of the event. “The celebration on August 29 will help bring people together for a fun afternoon. Those interested in becoming subscribers will be assisted.”
A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library is made possible through partnerships with philanthropists and local Jewish organizations, such as IAUJC. Families raising children from birth through 9 years old with Judaism as part of their lives are welcome to sign up. PJ Library welcomes all Jewish families, whatever their background, knowledge, or family make-up, or observance may be. PJ Library delivers more than 200,000 free Jewish children’s books throughout the United States and Canada each month, including the 140 subscribers in and around Ithaca. Each subscriber receives a title carefully selected for high-quality content and age-level appropriateness.
“Events like the upcoming celebration of the birthday of the world provide participants with the opportunity to connect with other families in their community through events for younger children,” organizers noted. “During the pandemic, IAUJC provided monthly gift bags in lieu of the holiday gatherings. These bags contained items that families could use at home to celebrate the Sabbath and various holidays. We also organized short monthly Zoom programs that included storytelling and games.”
Two parents in Ithaca describe their families’ experiences this way:
“My girls are always excited to see their names in the mail. They immediately ask to stop what they’re doing and read their new books! With the gift bags we were able to celebrate and learn about our holidays, and while it can’t replace a social event with friends, I am personally very grateful for these carefully planned activities that we’ve enjoyed working on at home. Thank you so much!” – Hadar Elor
From an interfaith family: “The PJ Library and gift bags have been a wonderful way for us to introduce Jewish faith and culture to our children. The books are always of the highest quality and include sections for adults that elaborate on the concepts discussed in the book. The gift bags are put together with so much love and contain a wide variety of activities that both the children and I have always tremendously enjoyed. Becoming part of the PJ Library has been a blessing for our family that continues to excite and stimulate our children every month.” – Karin Sternberg
For further information, e-mail Marjorie Hoffman at Marjorie@iaujc.org.