The Forward 50

Harold Grinspoon

Courtesy of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation

Community

Harold Grinspoon

The Forward 50

Philanthropist Harold Grinspoon is living proof of the Talmud’s dictum that one’s 80s are a time for renewed vigor. In May 2012, shortly before his 83rd birthday, he was in New Jersey to hand deliver his PJ Library’s three-millionth Jewish-themed children’s book. The program, founded in 2005 and funded jointly by Grinspoon and local communities, sends age-specific books and CDs for free each month to 100,000 Jewish kids ranging in age from 6 months to 8 years.

Like the larger Taglit-Birthright Israel, it’s meant to show Jews a caring side to their community. There’s little follow-up research — understandably, since the oldest “graduates” are barely 15 — but an internal survey and anecdotal information suggest it spurs families’ Jewish interest.

PJ Library is part of Grinspoon’s outside-the-box approach to Jewish education. He was a pioneer in expanding and upgrading Jewish summer camping. He’s a major backer of Jewish day schools, both at home in western Massachusetts and nationally as a co-founder of the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education.

PJ Library keeps growing, distributing Hebrew-language children’s books in Israel in 2009 and to Israeli-American families in 2011. And in August 2012 Grinspoon launched Voices & Visions, which will produce and give away decorative posters, each featuring a classic Jewish ethical maxim illustrated by a noted contemporary Jewish artist. In addition to Jewish philanthropy, he supports youth programs in Cambodia and in Massachusetts. Values guide him professionally too; he built his nine-figure fortune developing and managing middle-income rental apartment communities nationwide. What drives him? Growing up outside Boston in the 1930s, Grinspoon told a Springfield newspaper, he suffered from anti-Semitism and dyslexia-based reading difficulties. Now he’s fighting back against both.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.