Tension

nytimesSearching around for a topic for this week’s library column, I rejected books about Elul, the Hebrew month when we start the process of introspection leading up to the High Holidays. Even though the month is almost here, there is still time to consider appropriate books.

I thought about Tu B’Av, the special day-like a Jewish Valentine’s Day- that probably slipped by most of you. But it’s past. Maybe next year.

So I thought about current events and what I could rip from the front page of the newspaper or the lead story on the news.

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Jewish or Not – You decide

Jewish booksSo. ..what makes a book Jewish? Is it the author, the subject, the sensibilities of the book? Could it be the reader’s perception or something else entirely?

Frequently I ponder this question after I’ve been to the Association of Jewish Libraries conference where, among other topics, the issue of what makes a book Jewish almost always comes up.

Other times, as I choose books for the library, a new book will make me ask that question.

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Fly Me to the Moon

moon1The Talmud tells us that the nations of the world count by the sun, but Israel counts by the moon. In fact, while the Israelites were still in Egypt, God commanded that the moon be sanctified.

The Jewish calendar is lunar, but as with many things, we Jews have improved upon the basic lunar calendar so that –as commanded- the holidays fall in the correct seasons.

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A Day to Celebrate

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No matter where you are on the political spectrum, July 4 is a holiday to both celebrate and even revere: celebrate for the present and revere for the promise which the holiday represents.

As Jews, we should hold the promise of Independence Day in special reverence. While Jews were not always treated equally in the colonies and the nascent nation, they were usually treated better than in the lands from which they came.

The streets may not have been paved with gold- as some rumors promised- but they were more often paved than not.
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Books, Books, Books

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The librarian’s been busy cooking these last few weeks.  But she’s never too busy to seek out good books to add to the Lampert Library’s collection.

Since it’s almost officially summer, a time for many of us to catch up on reading, for the next few weeks, there will be a rotating selection of good reads, old and new, light and serious. And some for kids, too, for you to read together Continue reading

D-Day and More

ddayoverlordToday, June 6, we mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

That battle was instrumental in saving the world from Nazi rule. Operation Overlord – as it was officially called- was too late for much of Europe’s Jewry but not too late for the rest of the world.

ddaystarJews played an important part as soldiers and translators. Over 4000 of the soldiers who stormed the beaches or provided support were Jews. Many died. They made up 4.2 percent of American forces, a larger percentage of Jews than in the overall population. Continue reading

Herman Wouk: American Tolstoy

wouk d1What do you say about an almost 104 author when he passes away: that he was old, prolific, made a literary impact?

Herman Wouk died on May 17, 2019 just 10 days before his 104th birthday. While never considered a “great” writer (whatever that means), his impact on the American literary scene and on America’s perception of the modern American Jew was profound. Continue reading

Jewish American Heritage Month 2019

heritage1It’s not as well- known as Black History Month (February) or National Hispanic Heritage Month (September), but there actually is a Jewish American Heritage Month and we are right in the middle of it.

It is annually proclaimed and published in the National Register. This year’s proclamation begins:

“As we observe Jewish American Heritage Month, our Nation celebrates nearly 4,000 years of Jewish history and honors the numerous contributions of Jewish Americans to our country and the world. Rabbi Akiva, a great Jewish scholar, declared that a central principle of the Torah is to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Jewish Americans have repeatedly demonstrated their dedication to this commandment, helping the downtrodden and pursue justice, sanctifying the name of God, and embodying the best of America.”

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How is a Haggadah like a Pocketbook?

IMG_0003_3aFor most of my adult life, I’ve been searching for the perfect pocketbook. There were the huge satchels I carried in college and the next few years at the beginning of my teaching career.

Then I went through backpacks, large and small, designed to hold all the baby and small child detritus.

As I got older, the bags seemed to get a little small: they no longer had to hold pacifiers, a container of Cheerios, and an extra diaper.  The books were replaced by a Kindle and then a phone.

Did I need all my credit cards? Maybe a slimmed down wallet would do.

The right number of pockets was essential to be able to find things quickly.

I’m still searching as my lifestyle changes.

Just as there seems to be no perfect pocketbook, there is no perfect Haggadah. Continue reading

Best Books 2019

2019awards22019awards3Every year librarians and readers wait with bated breath for the announcements of the year’s award winning books.

The American Library Association (ALA) youth announcements come at 8 o’clock in the morning no matter where the announcement is made. Continue reading