Library Corner

Masada Backstories

Posted on July 2, 2020

By Robin Jacobson.  Two thousand years ago, on a mountaintop overlooking the Dead Sea, 967 Jewish men, women, and children faced down the military might of the Roman empire. When defeat became certain, they chose to take their own lives rather than die at enemy hands or be enslaved. This is the defiant story of […] Continue Reading »

Songs of Comfort

Posted on May 6, 2020

By Robin Jacobson. What to read during a pandemic?  Since the Book of Psalms (Sefer Tehilim) is the traditional Jewish prescription for times of crisis, I opted for a new historical novel about the psalms, Lux by British poet Elizabeth Cook, a wise and wonderful work. Lux takes place partly in the biblical world of […] Continue Reading »

A Salute to Local Authors

Posted on May 6, 2020

By Robin Jacobson. We proudly present three new memoirs by DC-area authors Judith Heumann, Esther Safran Foer, and Ron Hoffer. Each book speaks to the Jewish and human experience and offers, in different ways, an example of fortitude and hope especially welcome at this time. Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Activist by […] Continue Reading »

Lying and Truth-Telling: New Israeli Fiction

Posted on April 2, 2020

By Robin Jacobson.  Even people who think of themselves as essentially good and moral can become enmeshed in lies and deceit. That is one of the themes of Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s perceptive psychological novel, The Liar.  By contrast, in the comedy-drama And the Bride Closed the Door by Ronit Matalon, the issue is not out-and-out lying, […] Continue Reading »

NYC Cops and the Case of the Lamed-Vovniks

Posted on March 3, 2020

By Robin Jacobson. Best-selling author Steven Pressfield was in Israel researching a book when he first heard the legend of the lamed-vovniks, the 36 righteous individuals upon whom the fate of the world rests. Immediately, the irreverent thought popped into his head, “So, what would happen if someone started murdering those 36 guys?” Intrigued, Pressfield […] Continue Reading »

Risking Death to Rescue Strangers

Posted on February 1, 2020

By Robin Jacobson. One day, anthropologist Maggie Paxson suddenly decided to “study war no more.” Weary and dispirited from fieldwork in violent, strife-torn countries, Paxson resolved to switch her research to human decency and altruism. This led her to a cluster of mountain villages on the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon in south-central France – one of only […] Continue Reading »

Time Traveling to Cities of Yesteryear

Posted on January 2, 2020

By Robin Jacobson.  As the poet Emily Dickinson famously wrote, “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away.” The magic of historical novels is their power to transport us to times long gone. Want to time travel to American cities of yesteryear? Try these captivating new historical novels; both illuminate the […] Continue Reading »

Reading at 35,000 Feet: Books for the Plane Ride

Posted on December 2, 2019

By Robin Jacobson. Airplane travel is a miracle of the modern age, but it is not always fun. Flights can be delayed, seating can be claustrophobic, and row mates can be challenging, particularly if you get stuck in a middle seat. Even the CEO of United Airlines has compared airline travel to going to the […] Continue Reading »

Race, Immigration, and Bad Science That Never Dies

Posted on November 4, 2019

By Robin Jacobson.   Each semester when Georgetown University professor Charles King meets new college students in his social science classes, he discovers that many hold two discordant beliefs. On the one hand, the students wholly condemn racism and white nationalism and decry America’s long history of oppressing Native Americans and African Americans. On the other […] Continue Reading »

Telling the Story of Israel: Including Jews from Arab Lands

Posted on October 2, 2019

By Robin Jacobson.  When we tell the story of Israel, it’s often a story about European Jews. Theodor Herzl of Vienna dreamt of a Jewish state; David Ben-Gurion, born in Poland, proclaimed Israel’s statehood; and other European Jews escaped the Holocaust to build modern Israel. Yet half of today’s Israeli Jews have ancestral roots in […] Continue Reading »