Library Corner

Choosing Life: Two Wartime Novels

Posted on July 6, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  In August, Beth El and congregations everywhere will begin reading Devarim (Deuteronomy), the final book of the Torah.  Eventually, we will reach the dramatic moment when Moses exhorts the Israelites: “Choose life – if you and your offspring would live” (Devarim 30:19). What does it mean to “choose life”? In an experiment […] Continue Reading »

Oh, to Be in England

Posted on June 1, 2016

By Robin Jacobson. As spring turns to summer, the United Kingdom continues to joyously commemorate two oh-so-British occasions: the Queen’s 90th birthday and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The yearlong festivities seem to have spilled over into the Jewish book world, producing several recent titles about British Jews. So as you nibble your strawberries […] Continue Reading »

Savoring “The Seven Good Years”

Posted on May 6, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  In January, my daughter made aliyah and moved to Tel Aviv. This unexpected change of direction on the family road map has upped my interest in all things Israeli, including Israeli authors. Etgar Keret writes about everyday life in Israel in The Seven Good Years, a witty, irreverent, and poignant set of […] Continue Reading »

Freedom Illuminated: The Szyk Haggadah

Posted on April 1, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  Browsing through the Passover books in our library, I am struck by the holiday’s embrace of creativity. One haggadah after another urges us to reimagine the traditional Seder themes of liberation and freedom within the context of our own lives and times. The haggadot ask, “Who are the pharaohs that oppress our […] Continue Reading »

A Peek into the Hasidic World

Posted on March 1, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  When I was a small child, my family lived near the entrance to a Hasidic village. Transfixed by the parade of fur hats, black coats, and long beards going in and out of the community, I was thunderstruck when my mother told me that these oddly dressed people were Jews, like us. […] Continue Reading »

A Jewish Gal at the O.K. Corral

Posted on February 9, 2016

By Robin Jacobson. The legendary “Shootout at the O.K. Corral” looms large in tales of the American West. On October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Arizona, lawmen Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, together with their friend Doc Holliday, faced down some shady local ranchers near the O.K. Corral. Thirty seconds later, only Wyatt Earp was still […] Continue Reading »

A Symphony of Freedom

Posted on February 9, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  One of humanity’s ancient songs of freedom rings out each year on Shabbat Shirah (Sabbath of Song), this year on January 23. At Beth El, and around the world, the Torah reader will chant Shirat HaYam (Song of the Sea) – the exultant song of praise the Israelites offered to God after […] Continue Reading »

In Search of King David

Posted on February 9, 2016

By Robin Jacobson. Shepherd boy, musician, giant-slayer, king, lover, grieving father, and old man – the richness and vitality of the biblical portrait of King David have inspired manifold works of art, literature, and scholarship, not to mention a popular year-long class by our own Rabbi Werbin. Beth El’s library abounds with books devoted to […] Continue Reading »

Welcoming Refugees: How the Statue of Liberty Became the “Mother of Exiles”

Posted on February 9, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  For millions of immigrants, their first glimpse of America was the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. The statue – with its famous engraved poem about embracing the “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” – greeted ships carrying the poor and persecuted. Today, amid the Syrian refugee crisis, the Statue of […] Continue Reading »

The Days of Awe: Finding Our Way Home

Posted on February 9, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  As I write this, my 23-year old daughter is on the Appalachian Trail, 600 hundred miles from her starting point with 1,600 miles to go. Despite aching muscles, dirty clothes, and way too many mosquitoes, she is thrilled with her adventure. Meanwhile, I try not to worry too much and to understand […] Continue Reading »