I have probably mentioned before that in addition to my regular library job, I also volunteer at the library of a local synagogue (oddly enough, their librarian is a member of my congregation, which is how I got into volunteering there).


A congregant recently donated a barely-used, seventy-three volume Talmud to the library, and I’ve been doing what reorganizing I can to make room for it, despite the fact that most of the remaining shelves in the library room belong to the church group that shares space with the synagogue. In the end, all I had to work with was this very narrow corner shelf.

And guess what? As it turned out, the seventy-three volume Talmud fit absolutely perfectly. Like, if there had been one more volume, it wouldn’t have fit, and if there had been one volume fewer, there would have been a gap on the bottom of the shelf. It’s like this Talmud was meant just for this little tiny bookshelf.

How’s that for beshert, huh?


Renovated 18th-century synagogue in Łańcut, Poland.

This baroque synagogue, known simply as the Łańcut Synagogue, is a rare surviving example of the four-pillar, vaulted synagogues that were built throughout the Polish lands in both wood and masonry from the sixteenth through the early nineteenth centuries [read more here].

Photos via ostrowiecnr1.pl.

I absolutely approve of excluding Messianic Jews from positions of power and influence in the Jewish community

Messianic Jews are Christians whether or not they’re ethnically Jewish. Jewish community institutions should be governed by Jews, not Christians. Therefore, I believe Messianic Jews should not have voting rights or the right to hold positions of authority in Jewish community institutions.

Honestly the more I work Fiddler on the Roof, the more frustrated I get by little things. Like the fact that I’ve had numerous people in my company ask what Shabbat is (which okay not everyone knows but like that just feeds my frustration because everyone knows a shitton more about Christianity and no one ever bothers to learn about Judaism)? The fact that everyone calls the holy book a Bible and I’ve actually been told to stop nit-picking because it was “all the old testament anyway” because NO. We don’t fucking call it the bible or the old testament–it’s called the TORAH. The fact that now a bunch of non-Jews are running around making jokes out of hebrew and Jewish prayers and like repeating prayer and important words in funny voices and making up words because they didn’t understand what was being said. There’s just so much and I can’t say anything about it and I’m frustrated.

And I’m torn because yeah, I’m so happy there’s a musical that is about Judaism, and that talks about the expulsion from Russia and Pogroms (because a lot of this isn’t taught in history now-adays) but also, I just want parts of my culture and religion to be respected and understood, not treated like some exhibit in a circus?

The relation of the Sefirot [attributes/emanations of God’s essence] to the words of the Torah is analogous to the relation of the soul to the body. The words of the Torah are ‘bodies’ that contain the 'soul’ of God’s Hokhmah [wisdom]. […]
Jewish mysticism, therefore, is a system of creating relationships with God across the abyss [between Eyn Sof and humanity] through the medium of the Torah. One who can perceive the divine names in the Torah is able to cleave directly to God’s Sefirot and transcend the world in which he lives.
—  David Ariel, The Mystic Quest: an Introduction to Jewish Mysticism
Sanders is first Jewish American to win a presidential primary
Sanders made history with his New Hampshire primary win on Tuesday night, also becoming the first non-Christian to win a state in a presidential primary
By Ben Jacobs

Regardless of your personal politics, this is an amazing first in American Jewish History.  Kol hakavod Senator Sanders!

Once upon a time in the 1980s, when I was a twenty-year-old graduate student full of arrogance and attitude, I worked in the Hebrew books and manuscripts division of the Judaica Department at Sotheby’s New York. My boss was the “Judaica expert,” the late, great Jay Weinstein, a man truly deserving of his title, which he bore with immense modesty and humour. My own title was also “expert” but, by way of contrast, it only exacerbated my supercilious arrogance when I found myself called to the front desk to meet a client… The client I was about to meet on the day I am describing had called a week before to tell me that he was in possession of “a very old Hebrew book.” I was not looking forward to the encounter, since auction experts know very well that the hoi polloi consider anything more than ten years old to be ancient and hence of untold value. Disabusing clients of this notion as it applies to their particular treasure is an often painful but necessary task…
Mr. X, I was dismayed to find, embodied all my worst fears. Stooped, elderly, still in his coat, and eager — very eager. Authoritative and disdainful though I made myself, he was simply unimpressed by my “impressiveness.” With total focus and trembling hands, he reached into a plastic shopping bag and produced, wrapped in newspaper older than I was, his “treasure” — a book of Psalms, printed in Warsaw in 1920. I couldn’t believe this monumental waste of my precious time — a brand new book of Psalms would be worth more than this! I was exasperated by this schlepper, and I wanted to tell him so. I wanted to show him the real treasures — gold, silver, ancient, and precious illuminated manuscripts — that had been entrusted into my “expert” care. I wanted to show him the door as I told him with authoritative disdain, “That book is worth whatever you paid for it!”
But at that moment, like the angel in the legend who moves Moses’ hand toward the glowing coal rather than the glittering crown, thus saving his life, some kindly spirit moved my tongue. And instead of that anticipated send-off, I faltered, “Um, what did you pay for this?” The old man drew himself up to his full 5 feet, 2 inches. “For this, I paid seven days’ Auschwitz bread,” he replied with a dignity that totally deflated my pose. It seems that the Nazis had caught him with the little Psalm book, and as a penalty for possessing it, imprisoned him without food — only water to drink — for an entire week. Like Moses touching the coal to his lips, I was struck dumb. “This,” I stammered, “is too valuable for us to sell.” And I stumbled out of the room, a changed young man, with a new appreciation of what is meant by the words precious, valuable, and treasured.
The rabbis of Conservative Judaism pass a resolution supporting transgender rights - The Washington Post

“The rabbis’ resolution begins by stating, “Our Torah asserts that all humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s Divine Image.” It discusses historical evidence of “non-binary gender expression” in Jewish texts dating back to the third-century Mishnah, and points out current-day discrimination against transgender Americans in employment, medical care and voting rights.”

Yashar Koach, Mazal Tov!!!!