Tracey Dodd Speaks Out for The PJ Library at 2010 GA
November 15th, 2010 •
My name is Tracey Dodd. I live in New Orleans, and wear two PJ Library® hats: I am a parent of children enrolled in the program, and my husband and I are donors to The PJ Library® through JCRS, the Jewish Children’s Regional Service. JCRS is the oldest Jewish children’s services agency in the US, and supports the neediest and most challenged Jewish youth across seven southern states. To my family, our annual donation to The PJ Library® is not made just to support building a sustainable Jewish community, it is a commitment made by us to support an incredible endeavor that serves as a lifeline for Jewish identity in rural communities throughout the South.
Imagine a life where going to synagogue or religious school for a family is not an easy option… where journeys for religious interaction beyond your family require a two hour drive each way. Couple that with growing up in a community where you and your siblings may be among a few, if not the only, Jewish children. For children living in rural areas in the South, receiving a gift of a Jewish book each month is receiving a reminder of the richness of their religious traditions and the importance of Jewish identity. This is vital to kids whose religion is so different from the majority of people around them.
In the rural South, without a connection to Jewish community beyond your family, Jewish identity can easily be lost. I speak from experience. My parents moved our family from a large city in Europe to a tiny town in Mississippi, where we were the only Jewish family. We lost that connection to our Jewish community, as it was a 70 mile drive to the nearest synagogue. For my younger brothers, when we lived in small town Mississippi, there was nothing outside of the front door of our house to tie them to their religion. Being at impressionable ages and wanting so much to fit in with their peers and neighbors, both of my brothers converted.
Does PJ Library® make a difference….you bet! My own kids race to rip apart the packaging that covers the books as they come through the mail slot. It is their special present and part of a ritual that not only promotes literacy and togetherness, but promotes Jewish literacy and identity. There is a direct connection with each book, the religious stories, and their family life. My kids are lucky to live in a city where there is a strong Jewish community, but for those that are not, our $5,000 donation is provided in the hope that these books will make that connection and sustain their Jewish identity. The PJ Library® gifts become the Jewish community for many in rural America. My family and I urge each and every one of you to support the efforts of The PJ Library®. If you have not yet brought PJ to your families, please consider doing so. This gift makes such an enormous impact.
For more information on Tracey’s presentation at the GA, follow this link.