Library Corner

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 »

A Modern Queen Esther: Remembering Ruth Gruber

Posted on March 6, 2017

By Robin Jacobson.  Although it was a sweltering Shabbat night in August, it felt like Purim. Around a dining room table in Baltimore, our hostess Flora and her brother Simon were recounting their personal Queen Esther story. In 1944, a brave American journalist named Ruth Gruber risked her life to rescue Flora, Simon, and their […] Continue Reading »

Stories to Advance Inclusion for All

Posted on February 13, 2017

By Lisa Handelman.  Inclusion, at its core, is about understanding that each of us, created in the image of God, has unique worth. Each year, books are selected for JDAIM Reads (Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month) that use a Jewish lens to help us become more aware of the strength and value of individuals […] Continue Reading »

Tracing History in Family Treasures

Posted on January 1, 2017

By Robin Jacobson.  Two painted Japanese vases rest atop bookcases in my living room. According to family lore, my great-grandmother carried these vases with her when she fled Odessa with two small children around 1900. Why? The vases are large, fragile, and impractical. To take them, she must have left many other things behind. Why […] Continue Reading »