This literary initiative, a global programme that provides free Jewish-themed books to children, has been quietly transforming the lives of young families for the past five years. A programme of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), PJ Library is facilitated by the South African Board of Jewish Education (SABJE) in South Africa, and implemented in Cape Town by United Herzlia Schools.
Founded with the aim of promoting literacy, cultural identity, and family togetherness, PJ Library has become an integral part of Cape Town’s diverse community, thanks to the steadfast support of Herzlia Schools, and Cape Town’s coordinator, Andi Hendler. Over the past half-decade, thousands of high-quality, age-appropriate books have been distributed to children aged 3 to 8 years, at all Herzlia pre-primary and primary schools, Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School, and Sinai Academy. Furthermore, books are also gifted to those Jewish children who do not attend one of the Jewish schools. These books are carefully selected to reflect Jewish values, traditions, and stories, fostering a sense of connection to Jewish heritage and identity from an early age.
Herzlia School’s commitment to education and community engagement has played a pivotal role in the success of PJ Library in Cape Town. They’ve provided not only logistical support but also a platform for families to come together for various book and story-related events, talks and gatherings. Educators and staff receive resources and training around the books’ myriad and relevant themes. This collaboration has not only enriched the lives of children but has also created a strong support network for teachers, parents and grandparents, promoting a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
As PJ Library celebrates its fifth anniversary, it stands as a testament to the power of partnership. It’s not just about books; it’s about nurturing young minds, celebrating diversity, and creating a brighter future for all Jewish children in this beautiful part of the world, at the tip of Africa.
Herzlia School’s role has been instrumental in ensuring that the program continues to make a positive impact on Cape Town’s families and the continuity of Cape Town’s Jewish community. PJ Library Cape Town would like to thank HGF, SABJE and the incredibly generous donors who make this programme possible.
We are always looking for passionate individuals and families to join us in our quest for furthering Jewish literacy, identity and continuity. Please partner with us by investing or “paying it forward’ so that the next five years will hold even greater promise for this dynamic programme.
Natalie Barnett and Viv Anstey – PJ Library Cape Town Champions (contactable through Herzlia Alumni Association)