Bedtime. For some, the word invokes unruly and over-stimulated kids and their tired, frustrated parents. For others, however, it is the most important—and often magical—time of the day.

In fact, the evening ritual of parents and children connecting without the intrusion of computers and televisions, cell phones and iPads is sacred to many, and forms some of the most important memories of childhood. Inevitably, this time is anchored by a single, timeless object: a good book.

One to grow on

PJ Library, a national program established by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, helps keep this tradition alive in Jewish households by providing free Jewish books and music to families with young children. PJ Library came to Metro Detroit in 2006 through Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education, thanks to a generous gift by the Applebaum Family Foundation. Detroit was one of the first communities to adopt the program, and since then the list of children who receive free books monthly has grown to 1,200.

“I can’t wait to see what the next book is going to be,” says Emma Cutler, an 8-year old who has been a PJ Library member since 2008. “My sister and I read them with our parents the day we get them, and now we have a bookshelf in our room just for our PJ books.”

“My favorite is Joseph Had a Little Overcoat,” adds her sister, Lexi, age 6. “I like the story and I really love the pictures. But I love all the books.”

Parents Lisa and Josh Cutler agree. “What is so great about this program is that the kids don’t just get books, they get really good Jewish books. They’re learning about Jewish history and traditions, Jewish values and  ethics.  We truly believe it’s helping them build a sense of what it means to be Jewish that will stay with them for their entire lives.”

Adding new families

The program has been exceptionally popular. Unsurprisingly,  PJ Library has a current wait-list of hundreds of kids, all eagerly looking forward to joining the program. Fortunately, the wait will soon be over.

Heading into its sixth year, the Detroit PJ Library has plans to expand to 2,500 kids. In addition, a series of programs in a variety of open-space settings is in development to help continue connecting this program with the Jewish Community.

Rick Recht Live: A PJ Library Concert

Music, as well as literature, is an important part of PJ Library. This summer, in partnership with the Jewish Community Center, PJ Library is hosting the renowned touring musician, Rick Recht, at the Berman Center for Performing Arts. The concert will be a celebration of PJ Library, past, present and future.

Rick Recht, shown here with his guitar, will be perfoming July 16.
Rick Recht, shown here with his guitar, will be performing July 16.

Recht is known to audiences across the world as not only a top family musician, but also as a dynamic Jewish artist. Using songwriting and performance as his primary vehicle, Recht is a role model in building Jewish identity and engagement.

Rick Recht, Live in Concert

Monday, July 16, 2012

7-8 pm

Berman Center for the Performing Arts

$6 kids, $8 Adult

Tickets are available at

For information, contact Lisa Soble Siegmann at