Painful History

anti1The other night I watched a lecture streamed from the Jewish Theological Seminary. The speakers were Dr. Mary C. Boys, Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Dean, and Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology, Union Theological Seminary and Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, Provost, and Irving Lehrman Research Associate Professor of American Jewish History, The Jewish Theological Seminary. These two heavy hitters, scholars, teachers and friends, shared the stage in a conversation on “Anti-Semitism in America: How did we get here and how can we move forward?” Continue reading

Something for Every Night

dec 61Two Jews, three opinions…In this case there are two.  Two rabbis, Shammai and Hillel, who lived a little more than 2000 years ago, frequently argued about procedural issues.  When it came to Hanukkah, they could not agree on the correct way to light the Hanukkah menorah.

Should the lights be lit one day at a time, ADDING one each night until on the eighth night the entire lamp is glowing?  Or should all the light be lit on the first night with one being REMOVED each night until on the eighth night only one light is lit?

You all know how we do it- Hillel’s way. Hillel felt that adding a light each night showed increasing holiness. Continue reading

New Books on the Shelf

newbooks1Let’s take a break from the dysfunctional first family of Judaism and take a look at books new to the Lampert Library.

You’ll find a truly diverse selection. Remember that both children and adults may borrow books from the Lampert Library. It’s always here for you.

Here they are in alphabetical order by author. J means that the book is for younger readers; YA indicates a book for middle school and up. Some of these make great reads for adults, too. Continue reading

A Love Song to America

BerlinElections are over. Maybe we will be able to settle down to some bi-partisanship  and enjoy the blessings of democracy.

Ironically 2018 marks the 100th birthday of the writing of an iconic patriotic American song. Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” was written in 1918 while Berlin was a soldier at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York.

Berlin who came to America at aged five with his family was newly naturalized in February 2018. Soon after, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Already a successful song writer, he wrote “God Bless America” for an Army show. The song did not appear in that show but as war loomed in Europe in 1938, Berlin revised the song and asked Kate Smith to sing it. Continue reading

We Can Get Along

Pittsburgh1George Washington in his 1790 letter to the Newport Jewish Community wrote” It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support…

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.” Continue reading

King David in Literature

David paintingThis week we are skipping ahead from Bereshit to the story of David to coincide with the next Nourish.  On October 20, Paul Boorstin will be speaking about his book, “David and the Philistine Woman,” a work of historical fiction.

Based on extensive research, Boorstin has created a fast -paced story of the events leading up to David’s confrontation with Israel’s nemesis, the giant Goliath. Continue reading

Constant But Always Fresh

Genesis2018zagerAnd so we begin again…I am constantly amazed that no matter how many times one listens to a Torah reading and discusses it, there is always something new to extract from the text.

Although the text never changes- it is a constant- we change through experience, through aging, through changes in our surrounding, through education, through emotional growth. We are always bringing a new self to the old words.

Continue reading

Treasures or Trash


As I put the library back together, I have found some treasures. Well, maybe treasures for some people but no longer part of the library.

You may have noticed the book cart in the downstairs lobby. The books on it are yours to take. There are books for every age and taste: Jewish books and secular books; new books and used books; fiction and non-fiction.  Continue reading

Honey, Honey, What’s the Best?

Honey 2

On Rosh Hashanah evening, my family sat down to a pretty traditional meal: hallah, gefilte fish, brisket and chicken. (See the recent recipe clumn: New Recipes for the New Year.)

Of course, we dipped apples in honey but with a twist this year. As I looked in my pantry, I found several different kinds of honey. So I thought a honey tasting contest would liven up dinner a bit. Continue reading

A Poem for This Season

"A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightning and swift with power" Marge Piercy

“A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightning and swift with power” Marge Piercy

I was looking through old magazines recently as I cleaned out old library materials. You never know what gems you might uncover.

This poem by Marge Piercy is perfect for this time in our Jewish year. Piercy is a poet, novelist and activist.  Her novels and poems have won awards and often focus on feminist and social  issues. While not all her work is overtly Jewish, most show a Jewish sensibility. Continue reading