Virtual Library

Reserve a Book!

The library is temporarily closed for in-person usage. If you would like to reserve a book for pick-up at the front desk – click on reserve AND fill in the blanks with your name and email address and hit SUBMIT so that Stephanie Krasner, the Librarian, will have all the information. The reserved book will be waiting for you at the front desk. 


Tu Bish’vat is Coming


Thinking about peaceful demonstrations and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Suggested family readings:

Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World, by Jane Breslin.

As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March toward Freedom, by Richard Michelson.

Martin & Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank, by Nancy Churnin.



The Diary of Asser Levy: First Jewish Citizen of New York, by Daniela Weil.  Middle grade readers will be inspired by the imagined diary entries written by Weil, based on real events, that tell of the harrowing story of Asser and the Jewish refugees who arrived on the island of Manhattan.  “Safe haven” for Jews at the time of the inquisition in Europe and its colonial possessions was difficult.  This diary begins in a Dutch colony in Brazil that has been surrendered to the Portuguese who are intent on converting or exterminating the Jews. It brings out the turbulent journey to a new land in search of religious freedom for Asser and his accounts as the first kosher butcher in the new land. Many interesting photos and documents are included.



The Orchard: A Novel, by David Hopen.  “Boychick in the Hood” is the title of the review in the book section of the NY Times this past weekend. If you read the review you might be as conflicted as I was about delving into this novel. It is a poignant coming-of-age story about a devout Jewish high school student whose plunge into the secularized world threatens everything he knows about himself. The world in question is a strict Orthodox enclave in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and the narrator is a teenage student transplanted into a “Modern Orthodox” yeshiva when his family moves to Florida.  When his neighbor, the academy’s golden boy takes him under his wing his whole world changes. Part thriller, part religious inquiry, part love story, and part darkly disturbing, I think this is a novel families with teenagers might want to read together.



Solutions and other Problems, by Allie Brosh. American Humorist, Brosh, has given us a very comedic, autobiographical, graphic book with illustrated essays. In Bill Gates’ review he states that Brosh “has the observational skills of a scientist, the creativity of an artist, and the wit of a comedian.”  Brosh includes humorous stories from her childhood; the adventures of her very bad animals; merciless dissection of her own character flaws; incisive essays on grief, loneliness, and powerlessness; as well as reflections on the absurdity of modern life. Just what we need to put on a smile in these times!





The Lost Shtetl, by Max Gross. Publisher’s Weekly describes this novel as an imaginative novel alternately reminiscent of early Isaac Bashevis Singer and a Catskills comedian. Others have described it as if Sholem Aleichem and Gary Shteyngart got together to write a novel, this would be it. I found it as a true cross between a sometimes disquieting tale and a laugh-out-loud insight on human foolishness, resilience, and faith. Whichever way you see it, it is a worthy read. It is a story of a tiny isolated shtetl in a virtually untouched and unchanged part of the world. Spared by the Holocaust and the Cold War, its residents enjoy remarkable peace –  that is, until their world comes crashing into the 21st century.

Need a little smile? Laughter is the best medicine for stressful times!

Meshuggah Food Faces, by Claire & Bill Wurtzel.  Nothing is more Jewish than a plate full of food. Especially when that food talks back! From blustery bagels and blueberries to humorous hamantaschen and hummus, this irreverent table of meshuggah food faces will make you smile and want to play with your food.




Eli’s Promise, by Ronald H. Balson. In his newest novel Ronald Balson, a National Jewish Award Winner, has written a captivating saga of historical fiction. It juggles between three eras – from Nazi-occupied Poland, to the American Zone of post-war Germany, and then to Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War. He explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring strength of family bonds. It has been described as “equal parts heartbreaking and life affirming”.  Fans of Balson’s previous novels won’t be disappointed.



Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life – in Judaism, by Sarah Hurwitz.  Sarah Hurwitz, former speech writer for Michelle Obama, has written this thoughtful and timely Sami Rohr Prize winning look into why Judaism matters and how its wisdom can transform us.  She writes about her journey from Hebrew school dropout to thoughtful commentator on her heritage.  Author Adam Grant wrote “with this book she becomes Judaism’s speechwriter.”




Celebrate “Jewish Book Month” (Oct 6 – Nov 29)

Read a good book!

Alfred Stieglitz: Taking Pictures, Making Painters, by Phyllis Rose.  Our newest acquisition from the Yale University Jewish Lives series is this fascinating story of a revolutionary American artist. Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) was an enormously influential artist and nurturer of artists even though his accomplishments are often overshadowed by his role as Georgia O’Keeffe’s husband.  The author starts with a look at Stieglitz’s early life and career, tracing his journey from student to photographer.  Booklist calls it “an insightful look at a great American artist.”


The Sami Rohr prize is presented to an emerging writer who demonstrates the potential for continued contribution to the world of Jewish literature.

2020 Winner:
Kafka’s Last Trial, by Benjamin Balint.
2020 Finalists:



Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey

by Mikhal Dekel

Here Al Along: Finding Meaning Here All Along:

Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life –

in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There), by Sara Hurwitz

Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power

by Yaakov Katz

Find these and other new books as soon as our library reopens!


The Tunnel, by A. B. Yehoshua (translated by Stuart Schoffman).   Award winning Israeli author, Yehoshua, brings us a poignant story of a family coping with the sudden mental decline

of their beloved husband and father. Zvi, a retired engineer and former director of the Israel Roads Authority, and his wife of 48 years try to cope with the news that from now on, everything is going to be different.  His wife asks the neurologist “Does it matter what day it is if there is love every day?”  Easier said than done.  Zvi’s quest to keep living leads him to offer his services to a young engineer who is working on a military road in the Negev.  There he proposes a “tunnel” to protect a Palestinian family.  As one review offered “What could have been a depressing account of decline instead becomes one that chooses optimism over despair.”  Yehoshua writes a story of memory and mercy.

My Dear Boy, by Joanie Holzer Schirm, selected as Recommended Reading by the USA National Network of State Teachers of the Year association

“I’m proud to share that my second book, My Dear Boy, has been chosen as suggested reading for the USA’s National Network of State Teachers of the Year Association recommended reading list. My dad’s WWII story, in My Dear Boy, teaches us we must not be bystanders when we witness injustice or bigotry of any kind. Peace begins at home and should never stop there. Use your heart and take action. Thank you to former Georgia Teacher of the Year, John McRae, for his recommendation. A true honor! If you are a teacher, high school, or above, or know someone who is and you think they might be interested, please check out the lesson plans.”

Visit for more information, and My Dear Boy, for the Book Trailer.

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Ensuring Women’s Rights

The Woman’s Hour: Our Fight for the Right to Vote, by Elaine Weiss – Adapted for Young Readers. This adaptation of the original adult book by Elaine Weiss will spark the attention of younger readers and teach them about the activism, civil rights, and the fight for women’s suffrage.  In the battle for the adoption of the 19th amendment these brave women vow to fight for what they believe in, no matter the cost.  A great reminder of the power of social activism as the election draws near.  Perfect for ages 8-12


Florence Adler Swims Forever, by Rachel Beanland. Over the course of one summer that begins with a shocking tragedy, three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets in this hard to put down novel. In a New York Times review, Allegra Goodman writes: “Set in Atlantic City in 1934, Beanland’s debut novel explores the lives of a Jewish family struggling to conceal the drowning of a cherished daughter for fear that her pregnant sister will miscarry. Secrets abound — and so does warmth. Beanland is particularly good at conjuring 1930’s Atlantic City, with its small family-owned hotels yielding to larger, more commercial palaces.”

Shtetl in the Sun: Andy Sweet’s South Beach 1977-1980, Edited by Brett Sokol.  More than 20,000 elderly Jews made up nearly half of South Beach’s population during that time period.  In an area of barely two square miles, “like a modern day shtetl”, a small, tightly knit community of Eastern European Jews settled there. Andy Sweet’s photographs capture “the community’s daily rhythms in all their beach-strolling, cafeteria-noshing, and klezmer-dancing glory.  Here is an enjoyable look-back at those special times.

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.