Fan and Hyman Jacobs Library

The Fan and Hyman Jacobs Library is a treasure trove hidden in plain sight, just a few steps off the main floor of Oheb Shalom. 

With over 5,000 items, there is something for everyone.  Books on philosophy, biography, history, and holidays fill the shelves.  The fiction, selected for all age levels, includes both modern and classic works by Jewish and Israeli authors.  There are special areas for graphic novels and for parenting advice.  A collection of DVDs is growing. 

Borrowing is simple, and there is never a late fee.  The catalog is available online.  Our librarian, Aileen Grossberg, is on site Sunday and Wednesday mornings, but you are welcome any time. 

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Oheb Shalom Online Catalog

THIS WEEK'S Message From Our Librarian


They’ve come on planes and trains, on foot and in little boats that barely float. They crossed mountains and seas, swam rivers and waded through streams. They’ve ducked under wire and dashed across open fields. They are the millions of immigrants and refugees who have sought a safe place for themselves and their loved ones and who continue to seek safety and peace.

Today there are more than 60 million refugees, displaced people who have been forced to cross national borders and can’t return home safely. That’s the largest number since World War II when the march of refugees changed the face of the world.

Tuesday, June 20, marks World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations in 2000 and first celebrated in 2001 to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the 1951 document protecting refugees after World War II. The day is celebrated in more than 100 countries with activities to raise awareness and to raise funds to help refugees with housing, food, and safety.

The faces and countries from which the world’s refugees come may have changed but the fear and anguish are the same. According to the United Nations, every minute 24 people become refugees as they flee war or persecution.

Jews have always been in the forefront of the refugee rescue and support movement as this video produced by HIAS shows. South Orange, of course, has the SOMA Refugee Resettlement Program.

I am personally privileged to be involved in a local (New Jersey, Essex County, Montclair)) effort to help both refugees and immigrants both documented and undocumented. Over the past few weeks, Faith in New Jersey. The organization’s website says this about the group’s goals “Faith in New Jersey (formerly PICO New Jersey) is a new and growing multi-faith and multi-racial network of faith leaders and faith communities working together to advance a social and economic justice agenda at the local, state and federal level. Faith in New Jersey’s mission is to develop grassroots community leaders, analyze the policies that shape our communities, and mobilize faith voices and faith voters to effectively act on the prophetic call to build the Beloved Community.”

Loosely affiliated with the PICO National Network which has 1200 congregations in 17 states working to form congregation- community action units, Faith in New Jersey is teaching faith-based groups how to galvanize their congregations and providing the tools to create a more just society.

Currently, the organization is training representatives from congregations-many of which are synagogues- in ways to help undocumented immigrants who are targeted by ICE. This may include asylum and other supportive actions. These people are not the “bad hombres” who, of course, do exist. They are hard-working, often long-term, residents of communities in the US with American born children and grandchildren. They are people who may slip at times but who are basically law-abiding, productive members of their communities.

It strikes me that many of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents may not have always been totally legal.  What would have happened if an immigration official had come knocking on the door? Or followed them to work, or the doctor’s office, or to a child’s school?   Our personal stories would have been much different.

Our Jewish literature is filled with stories of immigrants and refugees. Happily most of the stories end well with positive accomplishments and contributions to American life.

Here is a selection of books from the Jacobs Library that relate to this week’s article:

Apelfeld          The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping: a novel

Engle               Tropical Secrets: Holocaust refugees in Cuba(J)

Gidwitz           The Inquisitor’s Tale, or, the Three Magical Children and their holy dog

Lowenstein     Token refuge: the story of the Jewish refugees shelter at Oswego, 1944-1946.

Golinkin           A Backpack, a bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: a memoir

Borden            The Journey that Saved Curious George: the true wartime escape of Margret and H.A. Rey (J)

Gruber             Rescue: the exodus of the Ethiopian Jews

Marrus            The Unwanted: European refugees in the twentieth century

Olgilvie            A Refuge Denied: the St. Louis passengers and the Holocaust

Sanders           Shores of refuge: a hundred years of Jewish emigration

Szulc                The Secret Alliance: the extraordinary story of the rescue of the Jews since World War II



Aileen Grossberg, Librarian

Librarian Hours: Wednesdays & Sundays from 9 am to 12 pm. The library is open daily.