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West Hartford 5th grader named to PJ Our Way National Design Team

WEST HARTFORD – The Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), in partnership with the Mandell JCC, has selected 10-year-old Ryan Sadowsky of West Hartford to join the national PJ Our Way Design Team.

Currently in its fifth year, the PJ Our Way program is the next chapter of the PJ Library program, a national initiative created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in 2005 that provides free Jewish children’s books monthly to more than 165,000 children between the ages of six months and eight years in North America.

Ryan, a fifth-grader at West Hartford’s Bugbee Elementary School, is one of 12 children from all across America to be named to the Design Team. Chosen from among 115 candidates, team members have early access to books and create content including videos and reviews. Together the team interviews authors, participates in workshops and leads the conversation amongst their peers.

“We are thrilled to have Ryan on our team,” said Saskia Swenson Moss, who directs the Design Team. “Team members are great role models for tweens who want to connect to Judaism in fun and engaging ways.”

“I have been receiving books or CDs each month since I was one or two years old,” says Ryan, a long-time JCC member. “It feels very special to receive Jewish books. I’ve learned a lot about World Wars I and II and what it is like to be Jewish around the world and throughout history.

“Every month, we have a video conference with our coordinator in Israel and the rest of the Design Team. I think it will be really fun to be a part of this team and meet kids from across the country.”

Ryan began his work with the Design Team in November and will continue through June 2018. He will be responsible for completing a creative assignment based on each book, including written reviews, video books, book polls and quizzes, as well as an option to create blogs for the website.

“This is an awesome responsibility,” says says Jane Pasternak, director of the Mandell JCC’s Family Room Parenting Center and the JCC’s PJ Library professional, “But Ryan’s is extremely focused and articulate and has proven he’s up for the challenge. He will embrace this opportunity and have something special to share with the community for many years to come. We’re just so proud of him.”

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