Library Corner

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 »

The Refugees at Rick’s: Casablanca Turns 75

Posted on September 1, 2017

By Robin Jacobson.  Seventy-five years ago this fall, the beloved Hollywood classic, Casablanca, first lit up American movie screens. Casablanca has enthralled generations of viewers with its stellar performances (by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains), iconic lines (“Round up the usual suspects,” “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “We’ll always have Paris”), glamorous Moroccan setting […] Continue Reading »

Taking the Daniel Deronda Challenge

Posted on July 2, 2017

By Robin Jacobson.  A few weeks ago, I impulsively signed up for an eight-part online course on Daniel Deronda, a 19th Century English novel by George Eliot. Why?  I had never read the book, despite its fame as the Zionist novel that predated Zionism. But I remembered the movie fondly (English accents! Rolling green hills! […] Continue Reading »

Hayim Bialik: Poet and Collector of Legends

Posted on June 2, 2017

By Robin Jacobson.  If you’re ever in Tel Aviv, consider a visit to the home of Hayim Bialik (1873-1934), revered as Israel’s “National Poet.” Minna, my Tel Aviv-residing daughter, introduced me to Beit Bialik on a personal tour of “her city.” The house is an enchanting mix of Middle Eastern and European styles, a romantic […] Continue Reading »

Pursuing Justice in Israeli Novels

Posted on May 4, 2017

By Robin Jacobson. On his office wall, a lawyer friend has a striking contemporary art print of the classic biblical text, “Justice, justice, shall you pursue.” But is it always clear what justice is? Some Israeli novelists seem skeptical. For a deep dive into the wells of moral ambiguity, try Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, […] Continue Reading »

A New Spin on Moses

Posted on April 1, 2017

By Robin Jacobson.  Avivah Zornberg is a celebrated biblical commentator, but even she hesitated when invited to write a biography of Moses. Fortunately, she took on this seemingly impossible task, producing Moses: A Human Life (2016). This deeply thoughtful work blends traditional rabbinic interpretations with modern psychology, philosophy, and literature. Likewise, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, […] Continue Reading »