Library Corner

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 »

The Pull of the Past

Posted on April 1, 2015

By Robin Jaconbson. Every family has its story. We are shaped by our family’s story – or what we think is our family’s story. This theme runs through two compelling new books about a woman’s journey (one imagined and one real) to understand her family’s past. Don’t miss congregant Michelle Brafman’s Washing the Dead or […] Continue Reading »

Humor and Pathos, Soviet Style

Posted on March 1, 2015

By Robin Jacobson.  In the literary world, Soviet Jews are everywhere. The last year alone saw such a bumper crop of novels and memoirs by Soviet Jewish émigrés that the Forward named 2014 “the Year of the Soviet Jew.”  Two of my favorites from this émigré genre are The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis and A […] Continue Reading »

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 »