People of the book

PJ Library hosts international directors for global impact event

The organization, now active in 35 countries, celebrated its growth and honored a long-standing staff member

Books are the vessels we use to travel to far-off lands, they are the guides that teach us our first words and they are the tools with which PJ Library connects thousands of Jewish children across the world to their heritage and to each other.  

In the Moise Safra Center’s Esther and Claudio Szajman Banquet Hall featuring vista views of New York’s Upper East Side, a cohort of PJ Library international directors came together on Wednesday night to celebrate the organization’s global impact and recognize one of their own.

In its early days, PJ Library, part of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, was a small organization providing free Jewish books to 200 families around Western Massachusetts. Now, nearly 18 years later, it’s a global initiative spanning over 35 countries. Wednesday’s event marked the first time PJ Library’s global leadership was able to convene in person since the pandemic.

Tamar Remz, who has been with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for more than 13 years, most recently as its chief partnerships officer, played a vital role in PJ Library’s expansion. Wednesday’s event also served as a tribute to Remz for her service to the library, which she will continue through her new position of senior advisor.

Remz took part in a  panel discussion, which opened with a video highlighting a British girl whose introduction to other Jewish children her age came through PJ Library and touched upon the organization’s growth and its greater impact.

“The core of PJ library is building communities,” said Rachel Kozupsky, director of international programs at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the panel’s moderator.

The audience clapped and laughed at every anecdote, and Remz had trouble holding back tears as she reminisced about her tenure with the foundation during her closing remarks at the panel discussion. 

“I really hope that we all work together, and that we care less about our organizations and our acronyms, and more about how every Jewish person, how every Jewish child, how every Jewish individual or person who wants to claim Judaism, can have a meaningful path,” she said.

Closing out the night was a toast to Remz, which included remarks from the foundation’s president Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, Genesis Philanthropy Group CEO Marina Yudborovsky and Harold Grinspoon himself, who spent years traveling with Remz to further the organization’s reach. 

“She is not only talented, and she is not only ambitious, and smart as a whip, but she has a caring heart, and she cares that she makes philanthropy meaningful,” Sandler Grinspoon said of Remz. “Meaning that she finds the connection between two people, or two organizations, who really will value each other and benefit from knowing each other and building something together. That they will both walk out feeling really happy with their partnership.”