Library Corner

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 »

Echoes from the Eichmann Trial

Posted on December 5, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  Some time back, I discovered a tantalizing thread of family history. Neatly folded inside a book that once belonged to my grandfather was a publicity flyer. It announced an extraordinary event at a Boston synagogue on December 10, 1961 – an “eyewitness report” on the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, which had transfixed […] Continue Reading »

Naming Evil: Two Lawyers from Lviv

Posted on November 8, 2016

By Robin Jacobson.  In the 1920s, at a law school located in present-day Lviv, Ukraine, a Polish-Jewish student and his professor argued over a startling gap in international law. The student was outraged that the law did not bar a government from murdering its inhabitants – and that there was no way to bring Turkish […] Continue Reading »

Not The Usual High Holiday Reading

Posted on October 8, 2016

By Minna Jacobson.  It’s once again the season of apples and honey and soul-searching. For some unconventional High Holiday reading, take a look at the work of Peter Singer, a renowned ethicist and professor at Princeton University, whom The New Yorker calls the “world’s most influential living philosopher.” Singer first stirred controversy in 1972 with […] Continue Reading »

Novels for the New Year

Posted on September 8, 2016

By Robin Jacobson. A round of applause for congregant Michelle Brafman!  Beth El proudly announces the September publication of Michelle’s second full-length work of fiction, Bertrand Court, following the success of her earlier novel, Washing the Dead (2015). Bertrand Court is about connections – between family members and friends, between the past and the present. […] Continue Reading »

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 »