Saranit Goes to Washington

NEAJL

Sara with Jim Rosenbloom of Brandeis’ Goldfarb Library. Part of NEAJL chapter represented at the conference

The 2015 conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries was number 50 for the organization, and I was happy to be a part of it! Our sessions included lectures by unique authors and children’s illustrators, subject experts from research institutions, and workshops on unique topics.

Dr. Monika Schreiber from the Judaica Library at the University of Vienna spoke on a panel about a special reparations project she is working on. She and her colleagues at the library have been performing autopsies on thousands of books that are suspected to have been looted by the Nazis in World War II, searching for clues to the identity of the rightful owners.

Panel Members

Left to right: Moderator Lyudmila Sholokhova, Olga Potap, Dr. Monika Schreiber, and Ellen Cassedy

Through this program, they have successfully found many such victims and their descendants, reuniting them with their families’ stolen collections.

I also enjoyed learning about the projects protecting the history of Jewish communities in previously settled areas of South Africa, Cape Verde, and Sudan, as well as the library programs helping the Jewish population of Argentina thrive today.

Library of Congress

Sara stretching the limits of the young readers section, Library of Congress

We explored Washington DC in the context of library and information science, thanks to our gracious hosts at the Library of Congress and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I was able to speak with a rare book curator at the museum to get some ideas for preserving and cataloging older items in our new special collection at Temple Israel. They have an amazing collection of literature, archives, and reference material that together tell the stories of genocide victims worldwide.

I am thrilled to finally put faces to some of the librarians I have been communicating with online. I shared stories with librarians of many backgrounds, who are accomplishing amazing things in their everyday work lives. This conference was a wonderful experience, and I look forward to participating next year for 51.

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7000th item added to the collection!

Debbie Friedman landed a spot as the 7000th item in the Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library catalog today. Good way to end a great year here at the library! Come check out our newly acquired books, music, and movies, including JGuys Guide: GPS for the Jewish Teen, and the graphic novels Rabbi Harvey Rides Again and Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite. 

Happy New Year!

Screenshot of catalog entry number 7000

Debbie Friedman landed a spot as the 7000th item in the Nancy Mae Shaines Memorial Library catalog.

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

Limmud Boston 2014

Everyone this year seemed up for meeting new people, one seeking more info on the gorgeous necklace a stranger is wearing and another offering his place in the coffee line to someone who looked like they needed a more immediate fix.

Attendees really stopped to help each other and chat– I suppose this should not be news, but after last year’s experience it was refreshing. It’s a relief to see the Jewish community in Greater Boston showing their solidarity in learning and journey to understanding.

Some of the goodies I picked up for the library are 3 cds that showcase the performers in the Boston Jewish Music Festival the past few years. Performers will also be showing up in New Hampshire! Keep an eye out for events in Nashua, Manchester, and the Klezmatics at the Portsmouth Music Hall in March.

Click here for the Boston Jewish Music Festival Website and schedule

Hear-O-Israel CD cover, Boston Jewish Music Festival

Hear-O-Israel, Boston Jewish Music Festival

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.

Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller

The Storyteller is a deeply personal novel whose story revolves around a grieving woman and her gradual realization of the depth of her family’s past. The main character, Sage, is a professional baker and introvert who has encountered increasing difficulty forging relationships, both romantic and friendly. She finally starts to open up to an elderly man who seemingly understands her, and becomes inspired to delve into her own story.

In talking with her grandmother, Sage finds out that her recently realized gift as a baker is a multi-generational trait that has a lot to do with the older woman’s survival from Auschwitz. As she learns of her grandmother’s gift for telling a story, Sage becomes both more in touch with her Jewish identity and more confident to move past all the now frivolous elements of her life.

Cover Art of The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult

My only gripe with the book is that (New Hampshire’s own!) Picoult uses slightly too much foreshadowing– for a few moments in the book, my suspended disbelief was broken, leaving me a bit disappointed with the ending. The author, however, will throw you right into the story artistically using multiple first-person accounts and beautiful language that lets you taste the cinnamon and chocolate in her bread, puts you right in the muck getting off the train, and brings out your own moral dilemmas as you relate to the complexity of the characters.

If you like Alice Hoffman’s writing you may really enjoy this book, and especially if you are a fan of Jodi Picoult’s other work. Both authors have the uncanny ability to effectively take the reader back in time and on an eye-opening adventure.

Best of all, The Storyteller is available for you at the Temple Israel Portsmouth library.

September Doorpost Column

Hello Library Lovers!

We have been busy in the library readying it for the start of school and the holidays. We appreciate all of the generous library fund donations we have been receiving, letting us start a new and exciting project!

Many of you have expressed how much you love our library, but did you know that we at Temple Israel have the most extensive Jewish interest and Judaica collection in Northern New England? I am constantly exploring ways to make these materials more accessible to you and the Jewish community at large, and am currently changing the call numbers in the children’s area to reflect the content in a more efficient way.

For example, as the project progresses, a book that was once “j244.53 Cohen” will now be “J Pesach Cohen” and will be color coded by category for easy finding.

Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim: "J Pesach Cohen"

Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim: “J Pesach Cohen”

In future weeks, I will also be changing the adult and young adult fiction to FIC and the biographies to BIO. I am hoping that these new call numbers will help you all find exactly what you want when you want it! We will also be installing clearly labeled signs that point you to the right section.

Please stop by in the meantime– we have many new books, movies, and music for your pleasure. The book sale will be going on in the schmooze during the month of September, so please buy some books to further show your undying support of the library.

L’Shana Tova!

Sara Lesley Arnold

Nancy Mae Shaines Library