Allison Weil recently started her role as PJ Library Program Assistant. As mom to Abigail (4.5) and Isabel (1.5) and a former elementary school teacher, Allison brings a professional and personal touch to the role. We spoke with Allison about her new position and her values as a Jewish educator and mother.
Hi Allison! Tell us a little bit about your role at Federation.
As PJ Library Program Assistant, I help run PJ Library programs in Howard County. A big part of my role is also enrollments—making sure that new families are getting their books and that addresses are up-to-date. I also work on the PJ newsletter, compiling our PJ Library events and events from community partners to let PJ families know what is going on in Howard County.
What is your professional background?
I am an elementary school teacher. I taught at a Jewish day school in Washington, DC for three years and at a Baltimore County public school for four years. I’ve also worked with infants at Bet Yeladim Preschool. Since having my second child nearly two years ago, I’ve been home with my daughters. I’m now thrilled to be at my position with PJ Library in Howard County.
What attracted you to this particular role?
I have loved PJ Library since before my daughter Abigail was born. I love the idea of getting a new book each month and using the books to teach my children about the Jewish holidays and traditions. And my background as a teacher is a good fit for the logistical aspects of running programs. As a teacher, I know what needs to be done to run PJ Library programs like Shabbat Tots. I also have connections with many program professionals in the area, so I can help PJ Library solidify its partnership with co-organizations.
Is there a particular Jewish value that is central to your work?
Hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests. PJ library often serves as an entry-point to Jewish life in Howard County. First people sign up for books, then they may come to an event, and then they may sign up for a program. My role is to welcome new families and encourage people to be involved in our programming.
What is do you think is unique about PJ Library?
PJ Library provides a free, high-quality resource. All you have to do is sign up. But even more than that, PJ Library is a community, and sustaining that community is PJ Library’s true goal.
Howard County is geographically wide, so here your community is often the one you create. PJ Library allows you to be part of a community with other young Jewish families. For instance, those who attend Shabbat Tots are coming back every Friday to the community they have created, with the same kids, same grandparents, and same families. Our community is not made up of just geographical neighbors—it is one we create through our programs and events.
What are your goals for growing PJ Library in Howard County?
I’d love to see more new faces at programs and be able to bring more children together. There are a lot of people receiving books through PJ Library in Howard County, and I’d love to see to see more of them join us at PJ Library programs throughout the year.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday?
Chanukah. I really love the idea of lighting candles and doing something Jewish every evening with my children throughout that week.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy traveling, with or without my family. I also enjoy reading magazines and watching home renovation shows on TV. Watching other people agonize over major life decisions helps me disconnect from my own worries.
What is the most important lesson you would like to impart to your children?
I want my children to recognize the uniqueness of Judaism and to take pride in being Jewish. Although we are a minority group, I want them to know that being a Jew is a wonderful thing and something to be proud of. In today’s increasing homogeneous society, I want them to celebrate who we are.
You can reach Allison at AWeil@JewishHowardCounty.org.