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issued his infamous “General Order Number 11” expelling all Jews from his vast military command in the West, Lincoln rescinded the command—quietly enough to maintain Grant’s loyalty and morale, but loudly enough so American Jews understood and appreciated his resolve to allow no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.”

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The Arab Jewish Community Center for Tolerance and Peace

Movie night on Thursday! I recommend Dancing in Jaffa for older kids as well as adults, but with parental guidance since there is some talk about the conflict. Very uplifting, though, and a wonderful message of peace.

Dancing in Jaffa: Thursday, January 22 7pm @Temple Israel Portsmouth

Dancing in Jaffa: Thursday, January 22 7pm @Temple Israel Portsmouth

Optional donations to the community center featured in the film that is devoted to interfaith activities for all ages: The Arab Jewish Community Center for Tolerance and Peace in Tel Aviv.

Arab-Jewish Community Center Handout

Arab-Jewish Community Center Handout

Movie Night in Portsmouth

Time to show some real love for Israel and celebrate positive interactions between children of different backgrounds! Recommended by several congregation members, this wonderful, award-winning movie may remind us of the power of understanding and the importance of just being kids.

Join us Thursday, January 22nd at 7:00 for the next Movie Night, sponsored by us at the Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library. Free event with Middle Eastern snacks on us 🙂

Dancing in Jaffa: Thursday, January 22 7pm @Temple Israel Portsmouth

Dancing in Jaffa: Thursday, January 22 7pm @Temple Israel Portsmouth

Don’t read to Children.

Rabbi David, today, helped me sort through a mountain of books donated to the library… Lots of treasures, including a set of torah texts from 1891, an American soldier’s prayerbook, and a gilded set of works by Elie Wiesel.

The Children's Passover Haggadah

The Children’s Passover Haggadah

What made my day though was the note on the first page of this children’s haggadah!

The Children's Passover Haggadah note in text: "Don't read to children"

The Children’s Passover Haggadah

Lesson learned.

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.