In 2017, I attended a conference in San Francisco for Jewish video creators. During the 3 day program, I got to meet some wonderful people, including Alli Thresher, who is the Digital Content Lead at PJ Library. PJ Library is the program that sends free children’s books to families raising Jewish children. While I grew up in the non-Orthodox world and know it well, like my former self, Alli had a more limited experience with the Orthodox community. Our time together impacted her.
“One of the things I love about talking with Allison is that she’s this really cool, hip, awesome, woman. Her story about how she came to choose her religious path is just so beautiful,” explained Alli. “One of the things we talked about is that a lot of people think of Orthodox as ‘old fashioned’ or ‘outdated,’ and how Allison had started JITC to show a different side of the Orthodox community.”
While we lost touch after the conference, Alli recently contacted me with an exciting proposal. PJ Library was looking for help reaching more Jewish families. They wanted us to partner with them to help get the word out. I loved the idea, but explained that while they carry many wonderful books on a range of Jewish topics, if they wanted to be inclusive of the religious Jewish community, they’d need to feature more stories with representation of contemporary Orthodox families and characters.
The team at PJ Library was very receptive to this feedback, which, coincidentally matched up with a series of Twitter chats they’d been holding to see what Jewish families and authors were interested inseeing in new books. Not surprisingly, a lot of folks said they wanted to read about Orthodox families and kids who find meaning in their religious lifestyle; families that look like their family, and practice Judaism as they practice Judaism. PJ Library wants to make sure they can reach a very broad perspective of Jewish people, and that every family can see themselves represented in their books.
Here’s where YOU come in. Are you or someone you know an Orthodox Jew who has a manuscript that you’d love to get published? PJ Library and PJ Our Way it’s sister program for older children, are actively seeking new stories to bring to families. There’s even an Author’s Incentive Award to help get new work published.