Journeying Through the Wilderness

Parashat Masei, which we read this week along with Matot, wraps up Bamidbar, the Book of Numbers. We recount the 40­ year trek from Egypt to Israel and the more than 40 specific stops the Israelites made along the way which marked that incredible experience. It is hard to imagine what went through the minds of our ancestors as they embarked on this journey with only their faith in G­-d, Moses and themselves to guide them. The journey was successful because of the combined support, encouragement, leadership and determination that directed them to their goal.

This is not unlike our own personal journeys. Each of us relies on the support and guidance of others to successfully reach our goals. We at the Federation are particularly focused on helping young families who have embarked on the exciting journey of raising engaged and informed Jewish children.

I have also been on a journey these past weeks. After returning from a mission to Israel, I traveled to Aspen, Colorado, as a guest of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which hosts an annual conference that brings together Federation executives and program professionals from across North America to learn about the Foundation's world famous PJ Library program. Each month, the PJ Library program sends free, Jewish themed children's books and CDs to families across the world. Families with children ages 6 months through 8 years who wish to make Judaism a part of their lives are welcome to sign up regardless of their Jewish background, knowledge or observance. PJ Library distributes more than 147,000 Jewish books and CDs each month to families in the U.S. and Canada.

PJ Library books also include guides that help parents enhance their appreciation for the stories and facilitate age­appropriate conversations with their children. Each book represents another stop in a family's Jewish journey, and we are so fortunate to have this resource available to our community.

Here in Greater Hartford, our PJ Library program is implemented by the Mandell Jewish Community Center with support from the Jewish Community Foundation, advised by the Zachs family, and from the Federation's Lions of Judah. Any family in our community is welcome to sign up. Simply log on to and enter the child's home zip code, or contact Jane Pasternak at or 860­-231­-6342. In addition, a "PJ Goes to School" program is offered to day schools and synagogue religious schools through the Federation's Commission on Jewish Education and Leadership.

The Israelites' journey through the wilderness was filled with challenges, from the physical to the spiritual. But with divine help, we came together as a nation and ultimately reached a land of milk and honey. By coming together to support our community's young families through programs like PJ Library, we can help to ensure a sweet abundance of Jewish life in the years to come.

Shabbat Shalom.

Howard Sovronsky
President & CEO


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