Author Michelle Albion at Paul Memorial Library

Paul Memorial Library in Newfields, NH will be hosting Temple Israel’s own Michelle Albion as their next speaker in their Library Lecture series. She will discuss and present elements of her book The Quotable Eleanor Roosevelt, which will be available for sale with her other books.

This event is scheduled for June 3rd, 2015 at 7:00 pm. Paul Memorial Library is at 76 Main Street, Newfields, NH. See you there!

The Quotable Eleanor Roosevelt by Michelle Albion

The Quotable Eleanor Roosevelt by Michelle Albion

Lincoln and the Jews at New York Historical Society

New display starting March 20th at the New York Historical Society. Contains many photos and primary sources that exhibit Lincoln’s early support for civil rights for Jewish Americans. Sure, the Civil War was highly economy-driven, but Lincoln’s decisions were clearly influenced by his deep-seated belief in equal treatment for all.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln in 1958, wearing Samuel Alschuler’s velvet trimmed jacket. Alschuler was the Jewish photographer.

An excerpt from guest blogger Harold Holzer at NYHS: “The show reminds visitors that Lincoln made humane decisions when they mattered most. Throughout American history, military chaplains were required to represent some “Christian denomination.” Lincoln advocated for Jewish chaplaincy rights, arguing that Jewish Union soldiers deserved the comforts of religion, and eventually signed the bill extending that right to Jews. He appointed the first Jewish army quartermasters, as well. And when General Ulysses S. Grant issued his infamous “General Order Number 11” expelling all Jews from his vast military command in the West, Lincoln rescinded the command—quietly enough to maintain Grant’s loyalty and morale, but loudly enough so American Jews understood and appreciated his resolve to allow no official discrimination.”

Life of the Synagogue Exhibit

Screenshot of the Life of the Synagogue homepage. Items from the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection

Screenshot of the Life of the Synagogue homepage. Items from the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection

About the exhibit: Contains 76 items selected from the William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection at the College of Charleston, one of the largest accessible collections of imagery related to synagogues and other aspects of Jewish life and culture around the world. Click on the image to visit the online collection!

May Doorpost Column

 Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library

Sara Lesley Arnold, librarian


The library has seen a lot of action the past few months, with the religious school’s HaSefer Basakit (book-in-a-bag) program thriving and lots of new books and DVDs coming in. Sara and the library committee have been continually finding ways to better your library experience and have seen great results. The congregation’s regular support for the library has helped increase circulation by 75% this last year! Please continue to give us feedback to help us serve you better.

The book Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis sparked some complex thinking by our first grade class recently. In the story, a boy named Benny leaves bagels in the ark as a thank you to Gd, ultimately finding out that he is inadvertently feeding an impoverished man stricken with hunger. With guidance from his grandfather, he learns that helping others is the best way to thank Gd.

Bagels From Benny Cover art

Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis

The wonderful, thoughtful children listening intently to the story began to ask questions… How did Gd make us? How did Gd make the planets? What does Gd look like? We discussed how important it is to continue to ask such questions, and that we will find some answers and ask more questions with each book we read.

New Books Display

New Books Display

Incoming titles for us older folks include the following: My Promised Land, This is Where I Leave You, The Book Thief on DVD, The Story of the Jews vol. 1, Countrymen, and Monuments Men. In case you missed some of the movies shown at the New Hampshire Jewish Film Festival, you will soon be able to borrow some of the titles at the temple library. Keep an eye on Sara’s librarian blog for other interesting resources and stories– https://saranit.wordpress.com and contact her with questions and requests at librarian@templeisraelnh.org.

 

Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage

When an unexploded U.S. bomb in Baghdad caused a flood in the intelligence headquarters of Saddam Hussein, army troops discovered a treasure trove of tens of thousands of ancient objects and manuscripts, historic photos, books, and documents telling the story of Iraq’s once thriving Jewish community. I originally heard about this story in this piece from WBUR’s Here and Now, in December 2013, which includes an interview of two childhood friends who were among the last Iraqi Jews finally allowed to flee Iraq in the 1970s.

Books Drying From the Flood

Books Drying From the Flood

More good news is that we now have access to this collection that is still undergoing preservation efforts this year. The Iraqi Jewish Archive currently provides visual access to many of these items, stating that the entire collection will be available to access in June 2014.

To search the collection, first enter your general search terms, in this case “torah.” On the subsequent page, you may filter results along the left side by Record Type, Language, Dates, and Subject Matter. Keep in mind a search for “torah” brings back results about synagogue leases, Arabic prayerbooks, and other types of material that mention “torah.”

'Torah' Search Screenshot

‘Torah’ Search Results and Filter Options

 

Enjoy looking through this material as I have been… the items, stolen and confiscated from Iraqi Jews, are slated to be returned to the Iraqi government after the loan period is up. Jewish and other organizations around the world, however, have been fighting to have the artifacts protected within the United States or returned to their previous owners. There is currently a push in Congress to format a new plan for the fate of these Jewish treasures.

Dead Sea Scrolls in Boston

The library’s recent trip to view the Dead Sea Scrolls at Boston’s Museum of Science was a great success! We had more than 40 community members come together to explore our heritage and history, looking at artifacts ranging from 408 BCE to 318 CE. The low humidity and low light in caves in Qumran, near the Dead Sea, helped preserve these works of psalms, manuscripts, and biblical text for us to view thousands of years later.

The exhibit provided the original documents, with a blown-up copy to view more closely, along with a translation and contextual explanation. I highly recommend visiting– some of the items have never before come to North America!

Congregation members viewing artifacts

Congregation members viewing artifacts


To continue our Jewish heritage exploration, we then stopped over in Brookline to eat and shop at Jewish establishments along Harvard Street. Many of us visited Zaftigs Delicatessen, the Israel Book Shop, and Kolbo Fine Judaica Gallery, where we browsed for treasures and looked for inspiration. It was amazing to walk down a street with my son, seeing Hebrew on each awning, Stars of David in each window, and religious men straightening up after kids on the school playground.

Digital Public Library is Live!

A wondrous thing happened this past week in the Digital Public Library of America going live. This portal provides the public with free, open access to endless cultural and historical materials that have been digitized at countless institutions.

A valuable support to all modern and traditional libraries, the DPLA brings “different viewpoints, experiences, and collections together in a single platform and portal, providing open and coherent access to our society’s digitized cultural heritage.” (Quoting the DPLA history page)

One may use the search bar (pictured below) to find this Yiddish sheet music in its entirety, historic photos of synagogues around the world, or even this sound recording of broadcaster Claude Sullivan’s 1958 journey to the new State of Israel.

DPLA Search bar and Browse Features

DPLA Screenshot: Search Bar and Browse Features

Although you may browse and access these items for free, please be aware that many of them are copyrighted by their creators or by the institution that houses them. Some you may use without asking permission– please check the “rights” section on the finding aid, as pictured below. This is the page that comes up when you click on the item’s title in the list of search results.

Screenshot Illustrating Reproduction Rights

Screenshot Illustrating Reproduction Rights

I hope you enjoy this precious resource as much as I do! It represents the new age of open information in libraries that can help us learn more about our cultural heritage and that of those with whom we share this earth. See you there!

The Dovekeepers

At my synagogue’s most recent sisterhood brunch, I ran into Renee, an old family friend whom I had not seen in more than 15 years. I greeted her with a smile and a hug, and we wandered together to the temple library, where she shared with me her insight into its significance and history. Suddenly donning a serious expression and looking into my eyes, Renee handed me a book she was bringing in for the library book sale, insisting I read it.

I hesitated to pick up The Dovekeepers, reading in the jacket that it was about women at Masada, a place where I had cried as a sixteen-year-old, overwhelmed by the loss of so many. Trying hard lately to surround myself with positivity, I did not want to become involved with what was sure to be a tragic story. Trusting in my old friend, however, I picked it up and began.

The Dovekeepers Cover Art

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

A few pages in, I had already become Yael, the girl narrating the first part of the book. I was sucked right into her world, Jerusalem at the destruction of the second Temple, and had to continue on in her shoes. The book is split into four parts, each one narrated by a different woman telling of her journey to the mountain Masada. Author Alice Hoffman uses the voice of each woman to weave together their relationships and experiences, seamlessly telling the story. I found myself excitedly wondering which woman would be telling the next yarn, forcibly keeping myself from turning the pages to look ahead.

Hoffman’s storytelling painted such a realistic picture that I was sure in her research that she went into the desert and lived off the land herself. How else could she know and portray such a believable existence to me? This book opened up the world to me in a whole new light– I gained an amazing new perspective on some of the experiences of the Jewish People, including magic, mysticism, love, cruelty, and faith, and have a renewed thirst to learn more about those whose courage allowed me to become the woman I am.

The author was inspired by real life artifacts found at Masada, weaving many of them into her story, along with the historical accounts of Josephus and those of the Essenes. I highly recommend this book to all women– I’ll be passing Renee’s copy on to a friend, looking into her eyes and insisting she read it.

Available at the Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library at Temple Israel Portsmouth.