Remembering Artist Elliot Offner

ARPhotographs: Smith College &emdash; Lyman In winter, Heron

Great Blue Heron at Lymon Conservatory, Smith College

I was delighted this week to learn about the life and work of Elliot Offner, a Jewish American sculptor who taught at Smith College while I attended there. Although I never had the pleasure of knowing him personally, I befriended the great blue heron he created– for the 18-year-old me there was no more peaceful a place on Earth than in that botanical garden.

Since Offner passed in 2010, his family set up a website to showcase his work. There I learned that my feathered friend has a sister who has become a local legend in the courtyard outside the Darien Public Library in Connecticut.

Auschwitz Study 4

Auschwitz Study 4

Also, the Holocaust memorial at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York and the Hirschhorn Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington each house a piece from Offner’s work on Holocaust studies and Auschwitz. The sculpture pictured above is featured on his website.

Time for a road trip I believe…


HaSefer B’Sakit

Before my arrival, Al and Diane instituted “Sefer Basakeet” in conjunction with the K-2 classes in the temple Hebrew school– an awesome program that translates as “Book in a Bag.” This monthly activity brings the children into the library for a story read aloud and an activity sheet reinforcing comprehension of the story, through character analysis etc.

The best part? The kids bring along their Sefer Basakit tote bags, choosing one themed library book to take home with them until the next month’s event. It’s pretty darn fun, and I’m psyched that these kids get the chance to develop an attachment to the temple library in this manner. As Al mentioned, it doesn’t often occur to the adults of the congregation that they may get Judaica and other Jew-ish materials for free at our library. I hope these children gain a sense of nostalgia from their experiences here.

The theme for the upcoming Sefer Basakit is Purim of course! The kids will be able to choose from books laid out on a large table. We have quite the selection… I’m impressed 🙂

Well there’s a new kid in town…

It’s me!

This week I began work at the Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library at Temple Israel in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I am learning the ropes from Al, Meryl, and Diane, congregation members who have been holding down the fort since the previous librarian retired about a year ago.

I LOVE it here already. Very impressed with the serious renovations that took place since I lived here as a child. Looking forward to learning the Elazar classification system for Judaica, getting to know the Hebrew school children and members if the congregation, and getting in my first major bout with acquisitions and cataloging.

Looking forward to sharing my experiences with you… there doesn’t seem to be many resources out there on the interweb with info on cataloging in Elazar, so I’ll put up updates as I progress! …with the Elazar family’s blessing of course.

p.s. Safranit is Hebrew for librarian. Like what I did there? Ha!