Virtual Library

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as told to me) Story, by Bess Kalb.  Recounting both family lore and family secrets, Bess’s grandmother Bobby brings us four generations of indomitable women and the men who loved them.  There’s Bobby’s mother, who traveled solo from Belarus to America in the 1880’s to escape the pogroms, and Bess’s mother, a 1970’s rebel who always fought against convention. Then there is Bess, who grew up in NY and entered the rough and tumble world of L.A. television. Her grandmother Bobby was the light of Bess’s childhood and her fiercest supporter, giving Bess unequivocal love. Kalb gives us proof of the special bond that can skip a generation and endure beyond death.  In a review, bestselling author Jodi Picoult wrote “When I stop crying I’m calling my mother immediately and making her read it.”  Funny, heartwarming, and deeply moving! 

All Adults Here: A Novel by Emma Straub. Straub’s wisdom, humor and insight combine to bring us an absorbing story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, and middle school mean girls.  Ann Patchett, bestselling author, says it best when she describes the novel as “how we try and fail at every age and still somehow survive. It is brimming with kindness, forgiveness, humor, and love.”  This is a warm, funny and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family – as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. Straub’s novel is a TODAY SHOW “#ReadWithJenna” BOOK CLUB PICK!  Jenna Bush Hager describes it as a “beautiful book to reach for.”  I agree!

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner. In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives.  This novel is full of heartbreak but also hope.  It is about the powerful bond between mother and daughter and the sacrifices one makes for love. Alex George, author of A Good American, wrote “Jennifer Rosner has written a book that will break your heart, and then put it back together again, a little larger than before.”  I agree!

The Quarantine Book Club will interview Jennifer Rosner via Zoom on July 30th at 8 pm.  Use this link to sign up for the event:


The Wait is Finally Over – It’s Here!!!

The Order by Daniel Silva.The wait may be over but the waiting list here has begun.  Be sure to sign up soon! (it can be reserved online at the Handelman Library link – ) Silva’s newest novel of friendship and faith resonates in today’s perilous and uncertain world.  In this new thriller, Israeli spy Gabriel Allon, is involved with the murder of a pope, dark secrets within the Vatican, and a conspiracy that could change the shape of the religious and political world. Booklist reviewed it as “A refreshingly hopeful thriller for troubled times.”  You won’t want to put this down till the last page is read!


Vignettes on Aging

Nearing 90: And Other Comedies of Late Life, by Judith Viorst.  I just watched a podcast with Judith Viorst, the author of many widely popular children’s books including “Arthur and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and a series of titles for adults on various stages of life for each decade starting with the 30’s and continuing through to her newest “Nearing 90”.  What a delightful, remarkable woman! The mediator of the zoom interview was closer to 30 than nearing 90 but was still so enamored by the cleverness and relevance of the vignettes. With Viorst’s savvy and a large dose of humor she shares the complicated joys and tribulations that await us as impending nonagenarians. She notes that nothing – well almost nothing – in life should be taken too seriously.

A repeat of the original podcast can be found at:


Thinking About Camp?

Here’s a selection of delightful books about summer camp for different ages.  Whether able to go or not, they’re the next best thing to being there!

Or, you can reach out to Rabbi Jesse Gallop, Director of Camp Pinebrook, and join us at Camp! Enjoy the reading!

“No Baths at Camp”
“Sadie, Ori, and Nuggles Go to Camp”
“Picnic at Camp Shalom”
“The Berenstein Bears Go to Camp”
“Noah’s Swim-a-Thon”
“Danny and the Dinosaur Go to Camp”
“Camp Jansen”
“Sam and Charlie at Camp”
“Heidi Heckelbeck Goes to Camp!”
“Amelia’s Summer Survival Guide”
“Amelia’s Itchy-Twitchy Lovey-Dovey Summer at Camp Mosquito”
“Sami’s Sleepaway Summer”
“Secrets at Camp Nokomis – A Rebecca Mystery”
“To Night Owl From DogFish”
“Nerd Camp Briefs”
“On Blackberry Hill”

Food, Food, and More Food

The Dairy Restaurant, by Ben KatchorI don’t know about you but seems to me that food is on everyone’s mind at this time of self -quarantine.  Food has always played a major role in Jewish life.  Through text and drawings Katchor retells the history of what and where we choose to eat.  He examines the biblical milk and meat taboo, the first vegetarian practices, and the invention of the restaurant.  He talks about the proliferation of dairy restaurants and his own experiences in those establishments before they disappeared.  The New York Times calls this book “Delectable…Obsessive, melancholy, and hungry making…”  Katchor has once again captured the spirit of old Jewish New York.


Talking with children about “Black Lives Matter”

There are many books that can help children, young adults, and all of us to understand the relationship between Jews and civil rights.  Here are just a few valuable resources:

Martin & Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank by Nancy Churnin.  “Love is stronger than hate.  Kindness can heal the world.” Those are the last words in this book, a story that parallels the struggles and achievements of Dr. King and Anne Frank.  The author encourages you to use your voice and to help your communities spread love with acts of tikkun olam.


As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March toward Freedom, by Richard Michelson and Raul Colón.  Here is the story of two icons for social justice, how they formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all




Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi, by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon.  This is the story of 3 young men who despite the tensions in the South, set out to register voters in Mississippi in the summer of 19 64 and the consequences that ensue.The authors use the 1964 murder of three civil-rights activists in Mississippi as a touchstone for the entrenched inequities in the South that led to the civil-rights movement.

Here is a website where you can find many more titles concerning Jews and civil rights:


Although our Temple library is not available at this time we know that many of you are looking for uplifting reads from your favorite sources.  Here is our suggestion for this week:

Separation Anxiety, by Laura Zigman. Bestselling author, Alice Hoffman describes this book as “a hilarious, heart-breaking and thought-provoking portrait of a difficult marriage, as fierce as it is funny.”  Her advice–“Start reading and don’t stop until you get to the last page of this wise and wonderful novel.”  Zigman’s novel, about a wife and mother whose life is unraveling, and the well-intentioned disastrous attempts she takes to course-correct her relationships, her career, and her belief in herself, will fill our need for a quirky, lovable story.

Shavuot is Here!
It’s time to commemorate the giving of the Torah and the harvest festival!
How about these books for some family reading!

Due to Covid 19 guidelines the library is closed until further notice.

TV Viewing and Rabbi Weiner’s Follow-up

The Plot Against America: A Novel, by Philip Roth.  For those of you who watched the TV mini series adaptation of Philip Roth’s “Plot Against America,” a new copy of the original book (which has been missing from our library shelves) will now be available as soon as our Temple library is able to open. Even if you haven’t watched it on TV, Roth’s novel is well worth reading. The story imagines an alternative history where Franklin D. Roosevelt loses the 1940 presidential election to heroic aviator and rabid isolationist Charles Lindbergh. Shortly thereafter, Lindbergh negotiates a cordial “understanding” with Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of anti-Semitism. As one reviewer stated, it is “fiction that is too close to fact to be ignored” and “every American who cares about the future of this nation and its democracy should be acutely aware of the possibilities posed in this book.”



Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner.  Looking for a hard-to-put-down distraction from your quarantine?  Weiner brings us a welcome read of “female friendships mixed with a splash of romance, a dash of humor, and a pinch of mystery to create a deliciously bloody poolside cocktail.”  The story centers around Daphne Berg, “#fiercegatgirl” influencer with thousands of followers and her old high school frenemy who comes looking for a favor.  With characters that are relatable and a story-line that has many reveals and twists, this novel is just what we need at times like these.



Virtual Book and Author Events

The Museum of Jewish Heritage recently presented a wonderful virtual talk with Helen Fremont, author of The Escape Artist, and author Helen Epstein. In her book, Fremont writes about growing up in a household held together by powerful secrets.  Her parents, profoundly affected by the Holocaust, pass on to both Helen and her older sister, a penchant for keeping their lives obsessively compartmentalized to protect themselves. Through bouts of mental instability, this memoir, written with wit and candor, is mesmerizing. You can access a recording of this event on their YouTube channel through this link by clicking here.