Library Corner

In Search of Children’s Books for Tu B’Shevat

Posted on February 1, 2015

By Robin Jacobson. It is an unfortunate fact of Jewish library life that some holidays are richer in children’s books than others. Our library’s shelves overflow with Hanukkah books. Alas, Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees, does not equally excite the imaginations of book publishers, despite the holiday’s links to trendy environmental topics. Even […] Continue Reading »

Reading Stories with Rabbi Portnoy

Posted on January 1, 2015

By Robin Jacobson  I had heard about the famous Rabbi Mindy Portnoy for many years before I met her. She is a trailblazer, one of the first women rabbis. She is an author of children’s books, including the breakthrough Ima on the Bima and the sensitive Where Do People Go When They Die, which has […] Continue Reading »

Medical Miracles in Wartime

Posted on December 19, 2014

By Robin Jacobson  Today we worry about Ebola. During World War II, the disease to dread was typhus, which ran rampant through vulnerable populations. Anne Frank and her sister Margot were among 17,000 inmates at Bergen-Belsen who succumbed to typhus in the final weeks of the war. Two Polish typhus researchers, one Aryan and one […] Continue Reading »

Books as Weapons: Doctor Zhivago and the CIA

Posted on November 10, 2014

By Robin Jacobson. In the midst of the Cold War, the celebrated Soviet Jewish poet Boris Pasternak proudly completed his first and only novel – an epic tale of the life and loves of a doctor-poet who becomes disillusioned with the Soviet state. Disturbed by the book’s unpatriotic tone, the Soviet literary establishment refused to […] Continue Reading »

Food Cravings

Posted on September 29, 2014

By Robin Jacobson. Every day we eat. During Jewish holidays and celebrations we eat more. After all, the Talmud itself links eating and drinking with rejoicing (Pesachim 109a). So it comes as no surprise that many books on the Jewish bookshelf, besides cookbooks, relate to food in some way. Two recently-published examples are The Middlesteins, […] Continue Reading »

Saving Monticello

Posted on September 2, 2014

By Robin Jaconbson.  One of America’s most sacred spaces sits on a Virginia hilltop, roughly 125 miles from Bethesda. Millions have visited Monticello, beloved home of President Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. Visitors wander through the rooms Jefferson designed, marvel at his ingenious inventions, and view the quarters where slaves lived and […] Continue Reading »

The Guns of August

Posted on July 10, 2014

By Robin Jacobson. One hundred years ago, on a summer’s day in Sarajevo, a Serb nationalist gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, during a ceremonial motorcade parade. The assassination was the spark that ignited the First World War. Within six weeks, for reasons that scholars continue to probe and debate, […] Continue Reading »

Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers

Posted on June 10, 2014

  By Saul Golubcow. I was a very young child when I fell in love with Israel. Like the lover in Song of Songs, I thought it as “all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Now, in reading Yossi Klein Halevi’s book, I have fallen in love with Israel all over again […] Continue Reading »

Talented Novelist Tackles the Dreyfus Affair

Posted on May 10, 2014

By Robin Jacobson. On a cold January morning in Paris in 1895, thousands turned out to watch the public humiliation and military “degradation” of a Jewish officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Wrongly convicted of treason, Dreyfus was dramatically stripped of the epaulettes, gold braid, and red stripes on his uniform, and his sword was broken. The […] Continue Reading »

Wonder of Wonders: The Creation of Fiddler on the Roof

Posted on April 10, 2014

By Robin Jacobson. For decades, one of the rituals of American Jewish parenting has been introducing the kids to Fiddler on the Roof, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  I remember the magical experience of sitting in a dark theater with my parents, grandmother, and great-aunt, all mesmerized by the shtetl world unfolding […] Continue Reading »