Library Corner

Rabbi Akiva: The Novel

Posted on July 5, 2018

By Robin Jacobson.   Rabbi Akiva (c.50-135 C.E.) is a storied scholar and hero in Jewish tradition. His name appears more than 1,300 times in the Babylonian Talmud alone. Following the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. – a tragedy that threatened to end Judaism – he and other luminaries started down a path […] Continue Reading »

Dealing with Dictators

Posted on June 12, 2018

By Robin Jacobson.  Some historical events cast a long shadow, and some words, like “appeasement,” are loaded. Today, whenever a government negotiates with a dictator – whether it’s Kim Jong Un or Bashar al-Assad or another present-day despot – we worry whether making concessions to dictators is “appeasement” that is doomed to fail. Pundits in […] Continue Reading »

Saw You at Sinai

Posted on May 1, 2018

By Robin Jacobson.  Every year at Shavuot, when we celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, we encounter one of the most fascinating, mind-bending, hard-to-wrap-your-head-around concepts in Judaism. At the transcendent moment at Mount Sinai – when God’s voice thundered the words of the covenant – all Jews were present, according to Jewish […] Continue Reading »

Being Israeli:The Novels of Eshkol Nevo

Posted on April 12, 2018

By Robin Jacobson.  In the two years since our daughter Minna made aliyah, my husband and I have been captivated by her tales of life in Israel. But there is one odd motif that repeats in her stories. Many of Minna’s new friends and acquaintances are into yoga, meditation retreats, overseas travel to sparsely populated […] Continue Reading »

Brave Like Queen Esther: Celebrating Activism in Jewish Children’s Books

Posted on March 1, 2018

By Robin Jacobson.  Jewish texts and stories, however ancient, often seem eerily relevant to present-day events. This year, the Purim story reads like a newly reported sexual harassment scandal. Beauty pageants! Powerful men demeaning women! Even Queen Esther feels like a modern heroine. Like the women in the #MeToo movement, Esther broke silence, revealed her […] Continue Reading »

Life as a Refugee: Children’s Books

Posted on February 1, 2018

By Robin Jacobson.   “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” Exod. 23:9. Can reading books and stories help children develop empathy – to care about other people, especially those who are different from them? Recent scientific studies suggest the […] Continue Reading »

When Books and Life Entwine

Posted on January 1, 2018

By Robin Jacobson.  Children’s literature abounds with whimsical stories about characters that magically wander off the page into the real world. But for some adult book lovers and their special books, something like this actually occurs. Sometimes a book speaks so powerfully to a reader that it infuses and shapes the reader’s everyday life. This […] Continue Reading »

Listen to Her Voice: Israeli Women Writers

Posted on December 4, 2017

By Robin Jacobson. With Israel’s 70th birthday approaching, this is a good time to read and celebrate Israeli authors. Over the past several years, Beth El’s Book Club has read some exceptional books by Amos Oz, David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua, Meir Shalev, and Etgar Keret, each offering a window into the nuances of Israeli culture […] Continue Reading »

Old Stuff or Precious Treasure?

Posted on November 2, 2017

By Robin Jacobson.   Kids dig in the backyard searching for buried treasure. Adults roam flea markets hoping to spot the one precious item hidden in the jumble of useless odds and ends. It’s fun to fantasize about discovering a priceless prize; not surprisingly, many novels build their plots around such discoveries. Two recent examples are […] Continue Reading »

Americans in Russia – Russians in America

Posted on October 3, 2017

By Robin Jacobson. Russia is in the news a lot lately. Am I imagining that American Jews pay particular attention to news from that country? Millions of us descend from immigrants who fled Czarist Russia. One could speculate endlessly on what our family stories would be if those ancestors had stayed put. The thriving genre […] Continue Reading »

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