Sign In Forgot Password

10/26/2022 10:36:23 AM

Oct26

Rescuing Freud

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

With 20/20 historical hindsight, it can be unbearable to read stories of European Jews in the 1930s who turned down opportunities to flee Europe.  If only we could reach back in time and insist that they start packing. Tragically, they didn’t know then what we know now about the danger, destruction, and death that lay ahead. 

Even...Read more...

10/26/2022 10:36:19 AM

Oct26

Scientist in the Shadows

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

My pharmacist dad reveled in books about epic breakthroughs in medicine and science. On my bookshelf, I found his copy of The Double Helix (1968), a memoir by James Watson of his discovery with Francis Crick of the structure of DNA, a feat for which they won a Nobel Prize in 1962. This discovery paved the way for stunning scientific...Read more...

09/09/2022 11:43:20 AM

Sep9

Snapshots of Israel

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

Israeli author Omer Friedlander, only 28 years old, made a stunning entrance onto the literary stage this past spring. Big-name publisher Random House published his debut short story collection, The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land, and announced that it would also publish Friedlander’s upcoming novel. To add to the excitement,...Read more...

08/04/2022 12:57:51 PM

Aug4

While the Pope Stood Silent

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

Early Shabbat morning, October 16, 1943, Nazi soldiers stormed Jewish neighborhoods in Rome, rounding up terrified Jews. They imprisoned them for two days in a military college near the Vatican before dispatching over 1,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Famously, Pope Pius XII made no protest. 

Two fascinating new books look at...Read more...

05/24/2022 01:05:55 PM

May24

When the Poet Went to War

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

On October 6, 1973, air raid sirens shattered the solemn quiet of Yom Kippur afternoon in Israel. Egypt and Syria had launched a two-front surprise attack. Within a few days, Israeli casualties were skyrocketing, and the state had lost alarming numbers of planes and tanks. Fearing for Israel’s survival, Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan...Read more...

05/24/2022 01:01:42 PM

May24

Remembering the Cold War

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

As I write this, Ukraine remains under siege. News programs feature a nightly parade of diplomats, retired generals, and political historians speculating about a new global world order, comparing and contrasting today’s state of affairs with the Cold War period.  For young people (ages 10-14) curious about the Cold War, three...Read more...

03/22/2022 02:05:48 PM

Mar22

The Sleazy Side of Life

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

Here are two unusual – and terrific – crime thrillers to jumpstart your summer. For a comic, warmhearted romp, try The Prison Minyan by Jonathan Stone. Want a darker, more complex tale? Read How to Find Your Way in the Dark by Derek Miller.

The Prison Minyan

This delightfully original, witty novel opens in Otisville Correctional, a...Read more...

03/22/2022 02:01:59 PM

Mar22

Our Parents’ Choices

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

Every day, children benefit or suffer from their parents’ choices. Such is life, and such is the stuff of literature, especially when a parent’s options are radically shaped by societal upheaval.

Two recent, thought-provoking novels trace the far-reaching consequences of parents’ choices during tumultuous times:  More Than I Love My...Read more...

01/07/2022 12:42:56 PM

Jan7

Passover Picks

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

When it comes to Passover children’s books, you could cover a Seder table many times over with wonderful choices. Here are five favorites, a mix of new and older titles, starting with ones for the youngest Pesach celebrants.

Dayenu! A Favorite Passover Song by Miriam Latimer (age 1 and up, 2012)

This exuberant sing-along board book presents four...Read more...

01/07/2022 12:42:19 PM

Jan7

Beneath the Earth: Archeological Adventures in the Land of Israel

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

Inhabited for millennia, Israel sits atop layers upon layers of a rich, buried past – long irresistible to archeologists. For a lively, colorful history of archeological expeditions, read Under Jerusalem: The Buried History of the World’s Most Contested City by Andrew Lawler, an acclaimed science...Read more...

01/07/2022 12:35:09 PM

Jan7

Revelations in Children’s Books

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

The Jewish book world is celebrating a bumper crop of excellent nonfiction picture books for children. My three personal favorites are: Dear Mr. Dickens by Nancy Churnin, The Singer and the Scientist by Lisa Rose (both for ages 5-10), and No Steps Behind: Beate Sirota Gordon’s Battle for Women’s Rights in Japan by Jeff Gottesfeld...Read more...

12/06/2021 12:13:26 PM

Dec6

 

Abraham Joshua Heschel: An American Prophet

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

On Bloody Sunday – March 7, 1965 – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel watched in horror as...Read more...

11/11/2021 01:47:48 PM

Nov11

 

Tracing History in Family Treasures

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

Two painted Japanese vases rest atop bookcases in my living room. According to family lore, my...Read more...

11/11/2021 01:17:24 PM

Nov11

Quirky Novels

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

Two new novels, Antiquities by Cynthia Ozick and The Vixen by Francine Prose, are well worth reading, even if they leave you shaking your head. Antiquities is a charming comedy-drama, but it is hard to make sense of it. In contrast, Vixen is easy to understand, but the novel is an eclectic mash-up of genres and styles: a coming-of-age story, historical novel,...Read more...

08/19/2021 10:50:04 AM

Aug19

A Fresh Look at Ethel Rosenberg    

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

In 1953, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg went to their deaths in New York’s infamous Sing Sing prison, convicted of...Read more...

08/19/2021 10:44:41 AM

Aug19

A Haunted Museum in Paris    

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

To Edmund de Waal, world-renowned ceramic artist and award-winning author, art objects are never just objects. They...Read more...

07/06/2021 10:00:57 AM

Jul6

Empathy Diaries    

By Robin Jacobson, Library & Literary Programs Director

If you catch yourself or see your child obsessively checking devices for texts or emails, or living much...Read more...

04/14/2021 01:29:33 PM

Apr14

Books & Beyond     Anyone Out There?

By Robin Jacobson

The bestselling new science memoir, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb, probes a thrilling...Read more...

04/13/2021 02:54:30 PM

Apr13

Books & Beyond     Shtetl Stories of Danger and Suspense

By Robin Jacobson

Tevye the Dairyman would fit right in among the rabbis, matchmakers, candlemakers, tailors, and other shtetl types...Read more...

03/02/2021 10:51:29 AM

Mar2

Books & Beyond     Reading Geraldine Brooks in 2021

By Robin Jacobson

Like many, I’m a longtime fan of the historical novels of Geraldine Brooks – Year of Wonders, March, Caleb’s Crossing, People of...Read more...

01/27/2021 05:15:40 PM

Jan27

Books & Beyond     The House We Inherit

By Robin Jacobson

As a child, learning in school about the American Civil War, I felt relieved that my family bore no guilt for...Read more...

12/30/2020 12:49:49 PM

Dec30

Books & Beyond     Out of Egypt

By Robin Jacobson

To many Jewish families with memories of hard times, Meyerland in the 1970s was the Promised Land. This Jewish neighborhood in Houston, Texas, was home...Read more...

12/15/2020 10:32:51 AM

Dec15

Books & Beyond     Reading Leviticus With Henry VIII

By Robin Jacobson

Soon the Torah cycle will come around again to Leviticus (Vayikra). After the dramatic stories of Genesis and Exodus, the litany of...Read more...

12/03/2020 09:04:17 AM

Dec3

Books & Beyond       Israel in Translation

By Robin Jacobson

Here’s literary news to celebrate: new novels from two of Israel’s best-known authors – A.B. Yehoshua and Eshkol Nevo – have arrived in American bookstores and libraries in English translation.

    Read more...

11/11/2020 02:45:51 PM

Nov11

Books & Beyond     Discovering a Lost World: The Cairo Genizah

By Robin Jacobson

While traveling in the Middle East in 1896, two wealthy, erudite Scottish sisters bought some antique manuscripts....Read more...

11/03/2020 01:05:25 PM

Nov3

Books & Beyond     The Jewish Dynasties of Shanghai

By Robin Jacobson

The intertwined history of two Baghdadi Jewish families in China – the Sassoon and Kadoorie families – is the stuff of epic...Read more...

10/05/2020 03:05:32 PM

Oct5

Books & Beyond    

 

Mystery, Suspense, & Troublesome Texts

By Robin Jacobson

A fun suspense novel topped with a generous scoop of Jewish history is a winning combination, even if the history relates to the origins of dark anti-Jewish tropes. Here are two entertaining and informative reads: The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer...Read more...

09/04/2020 03:41:13 PM

Sep4

Books & Beyond    

 

Masada Backstories

By Robin Jacobson

Two thousand years ago, on a mountaintop overlooking the Dead Sea, 967 Jewish men, women, and children faced down the military might of the Roman empire. When defeat became certain, they chose to take their own lives rather than die at enemy hands or be enslaved. This is the defiant story of...Read more...

08/25/2020 10:40:56 AM

Aug25

Books & Beyond    

 

Building a Bridge

By Robin Jacobson

Goldie Goldbloom’s novel On Division is a rarity among books about the Hasidic world. Unlike many books on Hasidic life, it is not a bitter exposé by an ex-community member. Nor is it an admiring outsider’s romanticized view of an exotic culture. Instead Goldbloom, a Hasidic Jew writing from...Read more...

08/18/2020 11:20:09 AM

Aug18

Books & Beyond    

 

Finding Truth in Fiction: Recovering Lives Lost to History

By Robin Jacobson

The inspiration for Rachel Kadish’s captivating novel, The Weight of Ink, was a famous essay by Virginia Woolf. If William Shakespeare had an equally brilliant sister, Woolf claimed, she would have died without writing a word, a victim of severe social...Read more...

Wed, December 7 2022 13 Kislev 5783