Zedek. Dylan West, left, is also a drag queen storyteller; Huntington Woods Children’s Librarian Joyce Krom is on the right.

Over 150 guests gathered for JFamily Detroit’s Drag Queen Storytime featuring Raven, the popular Huntington Woods Library drag queen.

By Stacy Gittleman

Photos courtesy of Shaarey Zedek

Last Sunday, JFamily Detroit welcomed more than 150 children and adults to curl up with a children’s book for a PJ Library storytime that featured the popular Huntington Woods Library drag queen Raven Devine Cassadine and her friends.

The sold-out event at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield was well received. Event organizers say an encore will be planned at a future date.

Sitting on a throne and bedecked in a flowing gown and a jeweled crown, Raven read books such as Be Who You Are by Todd Parr and other children’s books that spoke on the theme of acceptance and encouraging self-esteem. After story time, children participated in a craft activity, dined on a pizza dinner and were treated to a performance by the Shalom Street Band.

Event organizers said Drag Queen Storytime long has been embraced by the community as evidenced by the monthly events featuring Raven and her friends at the Huntington Woods Library. Drag Queen Storytime also has been embraced by PJ Library in other larger cities.

PJ Library Parent Ambassador Natalie Friedman said families made a choice to come to the event and knew what they were signing up for.

Friedman said the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, where PJ Library is housed locally under its JFamily umbrella, is proud to support this event and that “wherever a family stands Jewishly, JFamily invites all to have a seat at the table — or a comfy pillow or beanbag — to join in PJ Storytime.”

“Supporting others and allowing people to be free to be who they are aligns with values of our Jewish community,” Friedman said. “Plus, it is a lot of fun, and was a great day for all the families who participated.”

PJ Library, a national book and Jewish family engagement program, sends high-quality, age-appropriate Jewish books and music to families each month — with no strings attached.

PJ Library in Detroit is available to families with children ages 6 months to 8 years; PJ Our Way is for children ages 8-11, all living in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Livingston counties. In Detroit Metro, there are 2,300 children enrolled within 1,549 families. Each month, PJ Library distributes age-appropriate Jewish media — be it a book or a music CD — to its subscribers until they are 11.

This is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, made possible through partnerships with the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation, the H.W. Kaufman Family Foundation, the Manat Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and other donors. For details, contact Becky Melamed, PJ Library director, at (248) 432-5633 or email rmelamed@jccdet.org.

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