407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org
Embracing the Chaos

Embracing the Chaos

In summer 2019, I attended the Paradigm Project conference in Chicago. A three-day immersive learning experience for Jewish Early Childhood Educators. There were a multitude of workshops throughout the week, some more memorable than others. One of the sessions I attended was titled Embracing the Chaos. I was intrigued right away as embracing chaos is not a strong quality of mine. Fast forward to less than a year later, I found myself as the mom of two kids in a pandemic. Thinking back to those three days in Chicago, in my own hotel room, no children, dogs, or husband around, I certainly never could have imagined what was ahead. Now, a year into Covid-19, I am asking myself….what has protected my family’s peace? What has gotten us through almost 365 days of raising two small children who look like my husband with personalities like mine? Besides preschool reopening (thank you to the ECLC at the Roth Family JCC), we have made it through the past year by EMBRACING THE CHAOS. The mess of toys will always be there. The to-do list will never end. There will always be endless laundry and dishes and, and, and, and, and….I am (trying to) embrace it all as I know there will be a time when the chaos calms, the dishes and laundry will settle, the toys will minimize and the to-do list will be shortened. We are happy, we are healthy and we are getting through this together.

PJ Library is Growing Into the New Year

PJ Library Orlando started off the new year by giving back to our senior community with a donation of 50+ pairs of socks to the residents of Kinneret Apartments. The success of this program was a joint effort in collaboration with the Roth Family JCC’s Richard S. Adler Early Childhood Learning Center, whose K3 & K4 students created beautiful new year cards to accompany the socks. PJ Library’s most successful efforts come from working with local community partners and agencies such as Kinneret and the JCC. 

As you know, celebrations for the High Holidays look different this year due to social distancing. Although we were not able to celebrate together, we were able to send families home with PJ Library High Holiday kits. 60 bags were made with 35 picked up at the Roth Family JCC and 25 at the Rosen JCC. These bags went home into the hands of excited children from north to south Orlando. The bags were filled with activity pages, recipes, kid-friendly tashlich ideas, honey sticks and more. 

We have seen tremendous growth in the number of PJ Library books that are sent out on a monthly basis over the past few months. In late 2019, PJ Library Orlando switched from a one book per household community to a one book per child community. At that time we were providing 714 families a monthly PJ Library book. In August 2020, we sent PJ Library books to 1,099 children. Over the past month, working with community partners, we enrolled even more children, bringing the total number of children who will receive PJ Library books in Central Florida to 1,530! That’s more than double the number just a year ago. 

PJ Library is launching a national parent pilot program, Unplugging for Shabbat. Two of our Orlando parents will join 100 parent leaders from PJ Library communities across the globe to take a deep dive into what author of 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, Tiffany Shlain and her family, call a “Tech Shabbat”– a simple, free, 21st century version of the ancient Shabbat ritual that has been working wonders for her family for more than ten years. If you’re curious about the power of unplugging, have been thinking of unplugging yourself or just want to hear what the buzz is about, we invite you to join us at 2 pm ET on Tuesday, 9/29 to hear from Tiffany Shlain.

We look forward to growing our PJ Library community, celebrating together and of course, snuggling up and reading in our pjs. Sweet wishes for a happy and healthy 5781!

Starting our journey together

My family’s Jewish Journey began 5 years ago with the birth of our daughter, Hannah. We had no idea what we were doing or where to start with raising a Jewish child. PJ Library entered our lives a few months into our parenthood gig, and it turned everything around. PJ Library has been so much more than free books and music for my (now two) children. PJ Library has been a second home, a village, memories, laughter, and absolute joy.

My name is Beth Rose and I am THRILLED to fill the Director of Outreach & Engagement role at The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando! My family and I (2 kids, 2 dogs, 1 husband) recently moved back to Central Florida after living in Chicago since 2012. I am lucky to have worked in a similar capacity on the PJ Library Chicago team and felt that this role at the Federation was b’sheret (meant to be) for me.

I’d like to tell you about a few ongoing and upcoming PJ Library programs:

  • Begin New Year celebrations by registering for a PJ Library Family High Holiday Kit, a gift from JFGO. The kits are filled with fun family activities and celebratory ideas for the upcoming holidays.
  • It’s never too early to teach Tikkun Olam. You can give back as a family with our Super Sweet Sock Drive. Purchase and donate NEW socks for the residents of Kinneret Apartments. You can also purchase and donate socks directly from our Amazon wish list.

Be sure to follow the PJ Library Orlando Facebook page to stay up to date on all of our events, programs, and upcoming holiday tips and tricks. Know someone who recently had a baby? Want to be connected to other families raising Jewish children in the area? Are you about to turn into a Bubbe/Zayde and want to connect with other grandparents? Let me know how I can help you find your way.

I look forward to the day we can gather together in person and enjoy each other’s company. For now, I am only an email or Zoom call away. Do not hesitate to be in touch.