From A Lesbian Mother, A Letter To PJ Library: This Hurts

March 6, 2014

By Naomi Sunshine

The Jewish Week: Connecting the World to Jewish News, Culture, and Opinion

 

The Purim Superhero has two dads. The author is one of two moms. Via keshetonline.org

 

Dear Trustees:

My two daughters have been receiving PJ Library books since they were babies, and I am very grateful to you for the monthly gift, which has helped me teach them about Jewish holidays, traditions and values.

I wanted to share with you my disappointment that you’ve chosen not to send the book The Purim Superhero to all your members, but only to families who specifically request it. I know you put a lot of thought into this decision, and that’s part of the reason I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Cover of "The Purim Superhero." A boy stands on a stage wearing a red cape and a blue shirt with a "P" on it. His hands are on his hips.

As a proud Jewish mother and a proud lesbian, I aim to surround my children with a rich Jewish life. But I have to be honest with you. When I read things like your blog post “In Search of the Perfect Gifts,” coupled with your decision not to make this book available the same way you do so many others, it hurts. And it makes me wonder whether the Jewish community you are creating really wants me as a member.

The message that you send to families like mine (and there are lots of Jewish LGBT people and families) is that we are second class. That families like ours should only be read about by children whose parents go to the great lengths of finding out that you are offering the book and then ordering it. That our lives are so marginal that you could not possibly send a book that features a family like ours to everybody, because further marginalizing LGBT families is a lesser evil than offending homophobes.

I hope you can understand the pain this message causes, especially to those of us for whom Judaism is so central.

LGBT families are in synagogues. We are in Day Schools. We are in Jewish summer camps and Hebrew schools. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the children you serve with PJ Library to see us in a book too?

I have to tell you, there are PJ Library books that don’t conform to my beliefs or politics, and when they arrive, I just set them aside and move on. Why not let people who are offended by this book do the same?

I know it’s a little early in the year, but I will say, L’Shana HaBa’ah, I hope you will send the book out to everyone, and that you will continue to find books about diverse Jewish families and share them with the children and families you serve.

Sincerely, Naomi Sunshine

Keshet

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