Today I joined a small but valiant band of adventurers trying to unpack my synagogue's library in a new (to us) building. A thread on why I am now unable to utter the phrase "History of the Jewish People" without shuddering. +
The first thing to explain is that this was really *two* Conservative synagogue libraries: the congregations merged, and both buildings were sold in turn with books placed into storage. Rumors of the two collections being merged were, shall we say, greatly exaggerated. +
Naturally, the books had been packed unlabeled, in a variety of boxes, some disintegrating. Many had been packed into dishpacks, aka huge boxes that nobody should ever fill with books. (We did find one dishpack of actual dishes in among them.) This was no one afternoon's task. +
Still, I thought - I am an optimist - we could make a start; we could get most of the books out into rough categories on the shelves, move the discards out to a folding table, and then think about collection development (which I am looking forward to, speedily and in our days). +
Here is what I learned about synagogue libraries of a certain era: they were really into Israel (both pre- and post-Six Day War, but nothing after Yadin's Masada books), the Holocaust and its associated vanished-shtetl books, and Jewish history. So much Jewish history. +
Also, we have so far unearthed four partial Talmud editions (only two of which I recognized), three Zohar sets (none of which I recognized), a ton of variously battered chumashim and siddurim (did someone pack the geniza pile?), and a full shelf of Mystery Responsa. +
(The mystery is what mid-20thc past congregational rabbi acquired those shu"t volumes. I have put them on a shelf for future rabbinic perusal, because I'm terrible at recognizing not-super-obvious 20thc poskim.) +
I was really annoyed by the history books, though. There were a *lot* of "greatest figures in Jewish history" books. I started checking tables of contents: yes, all of them were European or American or Israeli dudes (except arguably Maimonides). +
I managed to convince my companions that, yes, outdated history is indeed possible. (The number of volumes dedicated to "Jews of the Soviet provinces" may have helped.) But... oh, Lord. My current Jewish identity status: Not That
Also, we are, optimistically, *maybe* a third of the way through. I am saving a stack of little blue volumes of Albo's _Ikkarim_ to motivate me; if I can collect the full set, I assume I will be able to defeat Voldemort, or at the very least Vincent Ferrer. +
With permission, I brought home a copy of R. Abraham Hirschowitz's _Yohale Sarah: Containing Religious Duties of the Daughters of Israel and Moral Helps_ (1902; also on Google Books). It reminds me of all books about tkhines and women's prayer that our library *should* have. +
Also more recent books on Jewish bodies and holiness would be helpful. (Although I guess I *have* just learned that some Kabbalists objected to menstruating women visiting cemeteries. Truly, no knowledge is wasted; I just have to find the right RPG campaign and/or sourcesheet.) +
All jokes aside, a congregation's library should reflect its community's interests and welcome visitors and potential new members. This library... needs work. And I need to go reread my favorite pieces from _Yentl's Revenge_ or something to calm down.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Wendy Love Anderson

Wendy Love Anderson Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!