A Sad Day in Ramah Camping, A Hopeful Day in Jewish Education

Today was a day of sadness and disappointment for thousands of campers, families, alum and supporters of Ramah camps across the US and Canada.  By the end of the day, nearly all overnight and day camps announced they will not “open for business” at all this summer.   So many sad posts on Facebook, moving videos from camp directors and tears from oldest edah campers who won’t have the final camp experience they have been dreaming about for years.

On the same day, over 100 educators from across the US (and some from abroad) gathered for a Zoom webinar sponsored by the Jewish Education Project, entitled “Adapting: The Future of Jewish Education”-A Conversation with David Bryfman and Meredith Lewis.   While Dr. Bryfman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Jewish Education Project, is an impressive educator and an excellent interviewer, it is Ms. Lewis who has a most impressive job title: Director of Content, Education, and Family Experience for PJ Library in North America.  As part of her job, she manages the creation of books and other new content, oversees PJ Library’s role in the field of Jewish education, and serves as the chief “knower” of families for the PJ Library enterprise.  She truly is a “knower,” as evidenced by the thoughtful, informative answers offered to the questions asked by Bryfman and webinar participants.

Lewis shared the impressive history of PJ Library.  Thanks to the generosity of Harold Grinspoon and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, more than 200,000 families in the US and over 750,000 around the world have had their knowledge of Jewish life and their connection to the Jewish People expanded and enhanced.  Perhaps more importantly, they have been exposed, as Lewis describes, to “the diversity of the Jewish population.”  Through Jewish books, readers learn about families with two fathers, and about Jews of color.  As someone who spends so much time in the Jewish disabilities inclusion space, I was delighted to learn PJ Library is looking for manuscripts about disabilities inclusion and is thoughtfully trying to address how to portray (in children’s picture books) people with invisible disabilities and mental health issues. 

What a treat to hear how PJ Library works with over 200 partners in North America on the important and evolving work of Jewish Engagement.  Keep up the great work!

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