Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Federation has created a bear-y special mitzvah


December 22, 2017

Shown here (l-r): Emily Bradley and Jenna Mathis, of Nemours Children's Hospital, and PJ Library Families Committee members Oshrat Molayem and Fiona Anavi show off some of the stuffed animals that were delivered to the Lake Nona hospital by the Federation earlier this month.

Smiles and bear hugs were in abundance on a recent Sunday afternoon as the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando held its third annual PJ Library Family Mitzvah Day at Build-A-Bear in Altamonte Springs.

More than 70 moms, dads, babies, kids and grandparents took part in this increasingly popular Federation holiday tradition, creating nearly 40 stuffed animals and cards to donate to the young patients at Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando. Federation volunteers, along with PJ Library Coordinator Jennifer Cohen, delivered the bears to Nemours in early December.

"We are extremely grateful and appreciative of the partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and look forward to the Build-A-Bear delivery each year," wrote Samantha G. Klaff, a certified child life specialist at Nemours.

Fiona Anavi, PJ Library Families Committee co-chair, who has attended the event since its inception in 2015, said, "One of my favorite programs is our annual Mitzvah Day! To see so many little children lovingly give away an adorable bear-because they truly understand they are doing a mitzvah-is priceless. PJ Library engagement programs like Family Mitzvah Day help me teach my children why we should be so proud to be Jewish."

Since 2015, Federation has delivered nearly 100 bears and cards-and countless bear hugs and special wishes-to the hospital.

Joining the families again this year was Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a chaplain at Nemours. Rabbi Rick helps make Family Mitzvah Day even more meaningful because he is able to explain to the children that they are part of the healing journey for the children and families at the hospital.

Rabbi Rick Sherwin entertains the children and explains how they are helping the children in the hospital.

Even Build-A-Bear described Federation's Family Mitzvah Day as an "...incredible project! We applaud the great work you are doing that's inspiring children in the community to give back and make a difference in another child's life," wrote Ellie Tymorek, associate cause marketing specialist at the Build-A-Bear corporate office.

A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library provides free Jewish children's literature and music to more than 140,000 children around the world, including more than 600 families in Central Florida. The program is administered and underwritten locally by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando.

Federation's PJ Library Families, formerly known as Shalom Families, regularly puts on engagement events that are inspired by or reinforce the Jewish values promoted in PJ Library stories.


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