Library Corner

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 »

A Summer Splash of Children’s Folktales

Posted on June 30, 2015

By Robin Jacobson. Among the treasures of the Jewish people are folktales – told and retold for hundreds of years across the different continents where Jews have wandered. The tales are for all ages, but children’s authors have adapted many into captivating picture books. Our library is lucky to have a large children’s folklore collection […] Continue Reading »

Big Jewish Lives

Posted on June 1, 2015

By Robin Jacobson.  Why read biographies? When I googled that question, all kinds of responses popped up, some grand and lofty, others more prosaic. But whether you read biographies “to stand on the shoulders of giants” or whether (like me) you find that the life stories of famous persons offer an easy, entertaining way to […] Continue Reading »

Hot off the Presses: New Torah Commentaries

Posted on May 8, 2015

By Robin Jacobson. Around the world, Torah scrolls will unfurl this May to the concluding portions of Leviticus (Vayikra) and then reach Numbers (Bamidbar). And, just in time, Torah scholars Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Dr. Avivah Zornberg have published new commentaries on Leviticus and Numbers, to the delight of their legions of fans. Look for […] Continue Reading »