By Arlene Ratzabi, Librarian, WJC Hendel Family Library
This heading may sound ironic but in reality, the library at WJC never closes! As you are probably aware, the library has been physically closed to the public for the past few months due to flood damage. But after a rapid remediation effort, I had limited access to our collection and thus was able to conduct library business. The “temporary” home of the Hendel Family Library or as I jokingly refer to it as the “library in exile” is down the corridor from the library in classroom 1-3. We have been busy acquiring books as usual and also assisting in the Religious School. New titles are featured on the bulletin board outside the classroom. Please be in touch with the librarian if you wish to borrow an item or return an item at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new study finds that libraries are more popular than ever even if fewer books are borrowed “The report from 1992 to 2019 also found that library collections are bigger and more digital than ever before—with over 58% of book selections now being available online. Overall, library collections are now bigger and more diverse than ever, growing by 113 percent since 2009.” (The link to the article is https://www.studyfinds.org/libraries-more-popular/)
Brooks, Mel. All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show Business.
Mel Brooks’s meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Brook provides insight into the inspiration behind the ideas for his outstanding collection of boundary-breaking work, and offers details about the many close friendships and collaborations he had.
Gerson, Mark. The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life.
Gerson shows how the Haggadah is the great Jewish guidebook for life and he discusses questions about miracles, mission, music, good and evil, actions and character, Jews and Gentiles, order and freedom, self-transformation, false humility, etc. and our relationship with God.
Visotzky, Burton. Reading the Book: Making the Bible a Timeless Text.
For Visotzky, the Bible is a living entity that can offer endless insights for its readers if they enter into dialogue with it in the manner of the ancient rabbis. Focusing on themes in key biblical texts – good and evil, sexuality, parent-child relations, sibling rivalry, faith, and creation – Visotzky demonstrates the ingenuity and richness of this traditional Jewish approach.
Kahen, Sina. Ideas: Bereshit.
Drawing from science, philosophy, psychology, and history, this series offers the reader a vision of Torah based on intellect and integration, rather than superstition and isolation.
Owens, Zibby. Moms Don’t Have Time to Have Kids: A Timeless Anthology.
Ms. Owens was our guest author recently at a Library/Sisterhood program. She compiled 52 essays by 49 authors to help the rest of us feel understood, inspired, and less alone. The authors wrote about the things many moms do not have time for like sleep, get sick, write, lose weight, and see friends.
Randel, Weina Dai. The Last Rose of Shanghai: A Novel.
In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, two people from different cultures are drawn together by fate and the freedom of music. 1940. Aiyi Shao is a young heiress and the owner of a formerly popular and glamorous Shanghai nightclub. Ernest Reismann is a penniless Jewish refugee driven out of Germany, an outsider searching for shelter in a city wary of strangers. He loses nearly all hope until he crosses paths with Aiyi.
Hacohen, Dvora. To Repair a Broken World: The Life of Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah.
Born in Baltimore in 1860, Henrietta Szold was driven from a young age by the mission captured in the concept of tikkun olam, “repair of the world.” Herself the child of immigrants, she established a night school, open to all faiths, to teach English to Russian Jews in her hometown. She became the first woman to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and was the first editor for the Jewish Publication Society. In 1912 she founded Hadassah, the international women’s organization dedicated to humanitarian work and community building.
Gefen, Ido. Jerusalem Beach: Stories.
a debut collection that fuses the humor of everyday life in Israel with technology’s challenges and the latest discoveries about the human brain. Jerusalem Beach is a foray into the human condition in all its contradictions.
Iczkovits, Yaniv. The Slaughterman’s Daughter.
“A picaresque tale of two Jewish sisters in late-nineteenth-century Russia” (David Grossman). With her reputation as a vilde chaya (wild animal), Fanny Keismann isn’t like the other women in her shtetl in the Pale of Settlement—certainly not her obedient and anxiety-ridden sister, Mende, whose “philosopher” of a husband, Zvi-Meir, has run off to Minsk, abandoning her and their two children. Fanny sets off to track down Zvi-Meir and bring him home, with the help of the mute and mysterious ferryman Zizek Breshov, an ex-soldier with his own sensational past.
Ragen, Naomi. An Observant Wife: A Novel.
Ragen continues the love story between newly observant California-girl Leah and ultra-Orthodox widower Yaakov from An Unorthodox Match. From the joy of their wedding day surrounded by supportive friends and family, Yaakov and Leah are soon plunged into the complex reality of their new lives together as Yaakov leaves his beloved yeshiva to work in the city, and Leah confronts the often-agonizing restrictions imposed by religious laws governing even the most intimate moments of their married lives.
Dalin, David. Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court: From Brandeis to Kagan.
Dalin examines the lives, legal careers, and legacies of the eight Jews who have served or who currently serve as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Dalin also discusses the relationship that these Jewish justices have had with the presidents who appointed them, and given the judges’ Jewish background, investigates the antisemitism some of the justices encountered in their ascent within the legal profession before their appointment, as well as the role that antisemitism played in the attendant political debates and Senate confirmation battles.
Modan, Rutu. Tunnels. (Graphic Novel)
A race for the Ark of the Covenant finds an exploration into the ethics and world of the international antiquity trade. When a great antiquities collector is forced to donate his entire collection to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Nili Broshi sees her last chance to finish an archaeological expedition begun decades earlier―a dig that could possibly yield the most important religious artifact in the Middle East.
Hiranandani, Veera. How to Find What You Are Not looking For.
This award winning story is about how middle schooler Ariel Goldberg’s life changes when her big sister elopes following the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, and she’s forced to grapple with both her family’s prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences, as she defines her own beliefs. The Supreme Court decision struck down laws banning interracial marriage.
Polydoros, Aden. The City Beautiful.
Jewish historical fantasy about a city, a boy, and the shadows of the past that bind them both together. Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania. But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.
Levy, Joanne. Sorry for Your Loss.
Evie Walman’s family runs a Jewish funeral home. At twelve, Evie already knows she’s going to be a funeral director when she grows up. She doesn’t normally help her parents with the grieving families directly, until one day when they ask her to help with Oren, a boy who was in a horrific car accident that killed both his parents. Oren refuses to speak and Evie, who is nursing her own private grief, is determined to find a way to help him deal with his loss.
Sis, Peter. Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued.
In December 1938, a young Englishman canceled a ski vacation and went instead to Prague to help the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Nazis who were crowded into the city. Setting up a makeshift headquarters in his hotel room, Nicholas Winton took names and photographs from parents desperate to get their children out of danger. He raised money, found foster families in England, arranged travel and visas, and, when necessary, bribed officials and forged documents. In the frantic spring and summer of 1939, as the Nazi shadow fell over Europe, he organized the transportation of almost 700 children to safety. Beautifully illustrated book.
Churnin, Nancy. A Queen to the Rescue: The Story of Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah.
Henrietta Szold took Queen Esther as a model and worked hard to save the Jewish people. In 1912, she founded the Jewish women’s social justice organization, Hadassah. Henrietta started Hadassah determined to offer emergency medical care to mothers and children in Palestine. When WWII broke out, she rescued Jewish children from the Holocaust, and broadened Hadassah’s mission to include education, youth development, and women’s rights. Hadassah offers free help to all who need it and continues its mission to this day.
Pokras, Karen. The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler.
Eleven-year-old Danny Wexler, the only Jewish boy in his blue-collar town during the late 1970s, is obsessed with the Bermuda Triangle. When a local child goes missing, Danny’s convinced it’s connected to an old Bermuda Triangle theory involving UFOs. With his two best friends and their Spacetron telescope, Danny heads to his backyard to investigate. But hunting for extraterrestrials is complicated, and it doesn’t help that his friend Nicholas’s mom doesn’t want her son hanging out with a Jewish boy. Equipped with his super-secret spy notebook, Danny sets out to fight both the aliens and the growing anti-Semitism in the town, in hopes of mending his divided community.
Weissman, Elissa. The Renegade Reporters.
When Ash gets kicked off her school’s news show, she becomes a renegade reporter–and makes a big discovery about technology and her fellow students’ privacy. Ash and her friends are reporters. They were ready to lead their school news show, The News at Nine, sponsored by Van Ness Media, when an unfortunate incident involving a dancing teacher, an irresponsibly reported story, and a viral video got them kicked off the crew. So, Ash, Maya, and Brielle decide to start their own news show, The Underground News. And soon they stumble on a big lead: Van Ness Media, the educational company that provides their school’s software, has been gathering data from all the kids at school. Their drawings, their journals, even their movements are being recorded and cataloged by Van Ness Media. But why? Ash and her friends are determined to learn the truth and report it.
Korman, Gordon. Linked.
Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town. But it’s woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into school and vandalizes it with a swastika. Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing? Because Michael was the first person to see it, he’s the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone’s looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana’s the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone’s treating her more like an outsider than ever.The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face-not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past. The author poses a mystery for all readers where the who did it? isn’t nearly as important as the why?
Schmidt, Gary. Okay, for Now.
Schmidt expertly blends comedy and tragedy in the story of Doug Swieteck, an unhappy “teenage thug” first introduced in The Wednesday Wars, who finds consolation and a sense of possibility in friendship and art. At once heartbreaking and hopeful, this absorbing novel centers on Doug, 14, who has an abusive father, a bully for a brother, a bad reputation, and shameful secrets to keep. Teachers and police and his relatives think he’s worthless, and he believes them, holding others at arm’s length. Newly arrived in town, he starts out on the same path—antagonizing other kids, mouthing off to teachers, contemptuous of everything intimidating or unfamiliar. Who would have thought that the public library would turn out to be a refuge and an inspiration, that a snooty librarian might be a friend, or that snarky redheaded Lil would like him—really like him? With more than his share of pain, including the return of his oldest brother from the Vietnam War, shattered and angry, will Doug find anything better than “okay for now”?
Joseph, Danielle. Sydney A. Frankel’s Summer Mix-Up.
Sydney Frankel, soon to be a sixth-grader, is looking forward to a summer of fun with her best friend, Maggie. She figures she deserves some time to herself to do what she wants before her mom delivers Sydney’s new sibling in just four months. Too bad Sydney’s mom has other plans for her. Sydney’s forced to take a summer course at the South Miami Community Center. She’s allowed to take any class, except for what she really wants―a reading course. But when Maggie comes up with a switcheroo plan so that they can both take the classes they like, unexpected complications arise.
Schur, Maxine Rose. The Circlemaker.
In 1852, Czar Nicholas’s soldiers enter all the Russian villages and seize the Jewish boys for the military, but Mendel, only twelve years old, knows he is too young to fight and makes a desperate attempt to reach the border in order to flee to safety.
Ades, Audrey. The Rabbi and the Reverend.
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington, he did not stand alone. He was joined by Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a refugee from Nazi Germany, who also addressed the crowd. Though Rabbi Prinz and Dr. King came from very different backgrounds, they were united by a shared belief in justice. And they knew that remaining silent in the face of injustice was wrong. Together, they spoke up and fought for a better future.
Stein, Joel. Raquela’s Seder.
Raquela yearns to celebrate a Passover seder, but Inquisition-era Spain is a time when Jews must hide their religion. Under the rising moon, her clever papa, the best fisherman in town, creates a unique celebration for his family. In his fishing boat on the sea, far from prying eyes, they celebrate Raquela’s first seder with matzah and the Passover story. A PJ Library book.
Shalev, Meir. A Snake, A Flood, A Hidden Baby: Bible Stories for Children.
With humor, Meir Shalev breathes life into six popular stories from the Old Testament. They are about Adam, Eve, and the snake, Noah’s Ark and the flood, the Tower of Babel, angels visiting Abraham, Joseph and his brothers, and Moses.
Silberberg, Alan. Meet the Matzah.
A humorous retelling of the Passover story. Meet Alfie Koman. He’s a matzah who really likes to hide. But Alfie also has a great story to tell his class of how the Hebrews fled Egypt to freedom. Too bad Loaf, the school sourdough bully, turns Alfie’s Passover story upside-down. A pharaoh who is a giant cockroach? Moses as a mighty superhero? And Ten Plagues that include “No Wi-fi” and “Chocolate-turned-to-broccoli”? It’s up to Alfie and his best friend Challah Looyah to get the Passover story right. Alfie just has to come out of hiding first.
Rockliff, Mara. Try it! How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat.
We are introduced to fearless Frieda Caplan—the produce pioneer who changed the way Americans eat by introducing exciting new fruits and vegetables, from baby carrots to blood oranges to kiwis—in this brightly illustrated nonfiction picture book! In 1956, Frieda Caplan started working at the Seventh Street Produce Market in Los Angeles. Instead of competing with the men in the business with their apples, potatoes, and tomatoes, Frieda thought, why not try something new? Staring with mushrooms, Frieda began introducing fresh and unusual foods to her customers—snap peas, seedless watermelon, mangos, and more!
Gottesfeld, Jeff. The Christmas Mitzvah.
This book was selected as a Best Jewish Children’s Book of 2021 by Tablet Magazine!
Al Rosen, a Jewish man, takes on the jobs of his Christian neighbors on Christmas Eve and day so they can spend the holiday with their families, starting a tradition that lasts for decade. A mitzvah, as Al explains, is a good deed, especially apt on holidays. A strong cross-over read, this warm story is about kindness and differences bringing people together.
Churnin, Nancy. Dear Mr. Dickens.
This book has won multiple awards such as: 2021 National Jewish Book Award Winner – Children’s Picture Book. 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor for Picture Books.
In Eliza Davis’s day, Charles Dickens was the most celebrated living writer in England. But some of his books reflected a prejudice that was all too common at the time: prejudice against Jewish people. Eliza was Jewish, and her heart hurt to see a Jewish character in Oliver Twist portrayed as ugly and selfish. She wanted to speak out about how unfair that was, even if it meant speaking out against the great man himself. So, she wrote a letter to Charles Dickens. What happened next is history.
Goldin, Barbara. The Persian Princess.
In this delightful book, Sephardic Purim traditions take center stage with a sweet story of a girl and her grandmother and a Purim play.
Leventhal, Michael. The Chocolate King.
A PJ Library book selection. A boy and his grandfather help popularize chocolate in 17th century France playing a key role in the chocolate trade. A fold-out includes facts about chocolate history chocolate-making and a recipe.