I am going to adopt the style of Life in Israel and Parshablog and number my lists of interesting posts. I’ll start with number one, even though it’s not the first.
- A Soldier’s Mother with a video on Israel’s unique role in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.
- The OU’s marriage satisfaction survey claims that overall marriages are healthy, with 70% of respondents claiming they would remarry their partners. The most dissatisfaction appears around 20 to 30 years after marriage, but those who stick it for longer are happy.
- Rabbi Joshua Waxman of Parshablog responded to my post on Genetic Testing. Lion of Zion pointed me to a post he wrote on the topic and which linked to Conversations in Klal. They give opposing views on Dor Yesharim, the organization that tests without giving direct results.
- Not a link, but a comment received by email: “R Tendler’s words sound good but in fact the decision making by individuals based on “information” is not very good. Stigma is not the only issue. So I am willing to be paternalistic on this one. As long as the decision is made reasonably — a big if — at the time or just before the shidduch, this is a good solution in my book. I mean that the outcomes will be better overall. If there were a rebbe to add arbitrary reasons for saying No, the stigma would be less still.”
This reader makes a good point. Even if we have the ability to choose wisely, that may not true for everyone. And we may not like it, but there is value in participating in a plan that works for the whole community.
- Miriam Shaviv on Jewish life in Britain.
- Things aren’t so great in the US either. Orthonomics on tough decisions about Jewish day school and family size.
- Haveil Havalim #? is up at Jack’s.
- On Twitter I met a man with a plan, Wyman Brent. He wants to build a Jewish library in Vilnius, Lithuania, once known as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.” He is asking for physical letters in support of this project, to the address below.This is a great activity for your kids.
Mission Statement: The purpose of the Vilnius Jewish Library is to help strengthen Jewish culture in the Jerusalem of Lithuania. There were more than 100 synagogues and prayerhouses in Vilnius before the war. There was also the YIVO Institute which did so much to promote knowledge and education. Now there is one functioning synagogue here and, YIVO has moved its operations to the USA. Since the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, there has not been a proper center of Jewish culture.Another focus of the library is to promote tolerance and understanding. There remains lingering anti-Semitism which is visible in the national media and within the Lithuanian government. The idea is to create a center which puts the spotlight not just on Jewish religion and culture but also upon the amazing accomplishments of Jews throughout history.The question is how to accomplish these lofty goals. To open a library in which all the books are in Hebrew and Yiddish is to guarantee failure. There is a small Jewish population in Vilnius. The purpose is not to convince Jews of the special nature of Judaism and Jewish culture. I am hopeful that they already know. So what will be done to guarantee the success of a Jewish library where there are not many Jews?1. Have approximately 100,000 books in English written by any Jewish author on any topic, both fiction and non-fiction. This will guarantee that there is the widest possible range of books. That means that everyone who will walk through the door will find something which appeals to them.2. Keep in mind that English is not the first language of Lithuanians. To help with reading comprehension, the library will be stocked with around 20,000 dictionaries and encyclopedias. Any reader who has trouble understanding a word or concept found in a book will have access to dictionaries covering everything from archaeology to zoology. In addition, there will be CDs and DVDs designed specifically to help students learn English. With a large collection of everything from children’s books to the most scholarly, there will be something for every reading level.3. Include other media. Many believe that the time of libraries is past. After all, there are satellite dishes for television and high speed internet for computers. To draw people into the library, there will also be a big collection of CDs and DVDs. The music CDs will cover everything from the Beastie Boys to KISS to Streisand to Gershwin, Mahler, and the Klezmatics. This will be another way to highlight the significant contributions which Jews have made to popular culture. As for the DVDs, every Jewish library should have a copy of Schindler’s List directed by Stephen Spielberg. However, since Spielberg is Jewish, I also will have Jurassic Park and Jaws. Harrison Ford is Jewish so there will be Star Wars included as well as any Ben Stiller film. Yes, there will be serious documentaries as well as thoughtful films made about the Shoah. The incredible variety of books, CDs, and DVDs is to show to the world the incredible breadth and depth of Jewish life and culture. I believe this is something which has never been attempted beneath one roof.4. Attract visitors with different events each night. There will be poetry readings, concerts, lectures, art exhibtions, as well as film nights. These events can be done by any person for any reason. The creator need not be Jewish and what they are doing need not have any Jewish connection. The idea behind this is that it will get people in the door who might not have otherwise considered visiting a Jewish library. Once through the door, they will be able to see for themselves the incredible array of material available to them. If everything mentioned so far seems still inadequate to bring them in, there will also be a cafe offering coffee, tea, and snacks.It is one thing to open a Jewish library in a city where there are large numbers of Jews. This is not London or New York or Tel Aviv. This is Vilna which was the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Many will say that the time for Jewish culture in Lithuania is past. They will argue that all the Jews still here should move to Israel. I believe that the Jews here feel the same as I do. First, this is their home which nobody can deprive them of. Second, is that for Jewish culture to die in Lithuania is to provide a posthumous victory for the nazis. I will do all in my power to promote Jewish culture in Lithuania for as long as I am able.Respectfully,Wyman BrentshammesVilnius Jewish LibrarySend letters of support to: Wyman BrentAusros Vartu 20-15AVilnius LT-02100Lithuaniahttp://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/38801