Impact Stories:

A Pastor, an Imam and a Rabbi Walk Into the Zoo… No Joke!

Families from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian backgrounds meet at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium to discuss who built the Ark.

Pittsburgh Kids
Received Free Jewish Storybooks in 2022
Books Mailed Monthly
By PJ Library in the US and Canada
Total Books Mailed
By PJ Library in the US and Canada

PJ Library sends free Jewish children's books to families across the world every month to engage more kids in Jewish values. PJ Library of Pittsburgh is participating in a pilot partner engagement grant initiative funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to create opportunities to build relationships with families outside the Jewish community, as a response to rising antisemitism.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam share a common story of the Flood. PJ Library of Pittsburgh planned an event with Rabbi Ron Symons of the Center of Loving Kindness (JCC), Pastor Chris Griffin of Allison Park Church, and Imam Chris Caras of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh to lead a multi-faith exploration of what we have in common as well as the differences in traditions and culture.

Families were paired up for a scavenger hunt with prizes, an encounter with an owl, and a mock skit in the spirit of the old American TV panel game show "To Tell the Truth," in which a representative from each culture told their story of the Ark.

"We found we had many elements of the story in common, and several surprises," said Danielle West, Pittsburgh PJ Library Coordinator.

"The event was Fantastic! There were twelve families in attendance participating in the discussion of the three different versions of the story of the Ark," said West. "After all three panelists had spoken, the 'game show host' asked the 'real' descendent of the builder of the Ark to stand up. And all three stood. A Muslim mother in the audience shouted, 'We all are! We're all descendants of the builder of the Ark!' And with that, everyone in the audience stood up, too!"

At the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, we believe that strengthening Jewish life and fighting antisemitism can be connected through outreach to other faith communities.

West agrees. She believes that these multi-faith gatherings where common topics of importance are discussed are in a great forum for resetting age-old conversations.

"Seeing one another in authentic ways--where men prayed before the start of the program, women with covered hair--as a parent, it's good for my kids to see people from other cultures being themselves. It wasn't a demonstration or a show--this is what they do! It's good for our kids see people who are different and that we can have a conversation just wandering around the zoo together."

There will be at least one more multi-faith gathering this year after the holiday season. It's not often that Passover, Ramadan and Easter all fall out at the same time of year as they do in 2023. So we are pausing for holidays and look forward to continuing investing time in shared planning to strengthen our relationships.

If you are a parent seeking opportunities for cultural exchange or engaging educational programs for your child, stay tuned for the next multi-faith event offered by PJ Library. Visit Or contact Danielle West for more information at

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