Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Leadership in the Organization

New President Interview  part 43

Leadership in the Organization


Question> The late Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote many articles[1] and a book on leadership in the Bible. Many of the concepts of leadership and human behavior directly apply to people today. How does leadership fit into the College both as an organization and as an educational institution trying to nurture leaders.


Answer>One of the most difficult types of questions to answer is one that has unclear expectations.  Recently I heard mathematician, Harold Gans, try to describe a proof. Before one can prove something, one needs to define both “proof” and “fact.”  He can give us the standard mathematical proofs for geometry or algebra, but there is one classification of math theorems that he knows is correct and can’t prove it. That is given any even number there is a set of two prime numbers that can be added together to give  that number. One can define prime and even numbers and the addition operation, but there is no proof possible. Kurt Gödel creates paradoxical statements that are correct but if you offer proof they can not be correct.[2] .

Another example of an impossible paradox is illustrated by this story.  There is a class consisting of students who are always trying to find a question the teacher can’t answer or look up.  One student comes up with a “perfect” plan.  He tells his fellow students that he will capture and hold a butterfly in his hands and ask the teacher, “Is the butterfly alive or dead?”  If the teacher says, “alive” the student will crush the life out.  If the teacher says, “dead” the student will open his hand and let the butterfly fly away.  The students thought this was a foolproof way to catch the teacher in a mistake.  The teacher, who had been teaching leadership qualities all semester was ready for this question.  The teacher praised the initiative and ingenuity of the student.  The teacher shared the vision of the class includes students learning how to act in new situations.  Finally, after praising and mentoring, the teacher said, “You have succeeded in creating a question that the answer is in your hands, not mine.”

I can tell you some of the qualities of leadership, but I can’t precisely define or prove it exists.  The search for leadership is a paradox; before you find it, .it will change. One person’s view of the description of righteous leadership may be another’s description of tyrannical leadership. Kindness, respect, and mentorship are the aspects of positive leadership.  Bullying, force, and disrespect are negatives and should not be examples of leadership.

The basic goal of leadership is to accomplish a long term goal.  However, “long term” may be relative to what we call “short term.”  Management is the application of rules and procedures to complete a job.  These jobs may last a few seconds or be indefinite (such as maintaining a building). A leader makes the rules; a managers enforces the rules.  Sometimes one person is both a leader and a manager. The president[3] of a college must be a visionary and understand the systems so that the rules can be created.  The president also needs to enforce the decisions to make sure they are accomplished.  Very few people have a job that is pure leadership. Leadership could be rotating such as a small committee where a leader must move the group toward the goal. Leadership could be part of the daily routine.  Leaders have to take chances, not be afraid to fail, learn constantly, listen, and access the routine or changing situations.

Here are two leadership situations 1) In Perke Avot 2:6 (Sayings of the Fathers) “In a place where there are no men... be a man!”[4] This applies to small groups and to large organizations. When the situation warrants, someone needs to take leadership and perform the mission.  The need for leadership also applies when people are acting improperly, someone needs to act maturely and change the situation. This is what I call situational leadership.  2) A second situation is when a responsible person is elected, selected, or appointed to be a leader. Leadership is a constant part of that person’s job. 

Leadership concerns the use and distribution of power and getting people to perform a task, job or mission.

Q> What!  I thought power was a negative. How does a leader use power?

 A> Every person, group and organization has power.  The power could be time, energy, finance, or physical resources.  The allocation of power is both a leadership and management activity. Leaders set the goals and mission. That is the big picture.  Managers must apply and enforce the policies and rules. At the end of the day, the faculty, students, and administration need the same goals. (Sometimes these goals are mirror images.  The faculty teach; the students learn; the goal is to educate.) There are several ways to motivate and all are needed.  

1) Reward and punishment – we give financial and psychological rewards for performance.  We correct mistakes and sometimes punish offenders. For example, the organization pays people a salary [5]and may give bonuses or prizes.  The organization may give awards such as “employee of the month.”  We evaluate actions and performance. Words of praise and recognition are powerful motivators.

 2) Setting examples – leaders do what they say.  A teacher will set an example of good behavior. A leader or manager will exhibit behaviors that the group should emulate.  The work ethic should be demonstrated.  A manager cannot expect people to come on time when they don’t. It is a way of teaching without words.

 3) Training and information sharing – organizations are complex.  Technology changes quickly, situations develop.  All are examples of what members need to know.  For instance, if a new piece of equipment is installed or software program purchased, make sure to train the people how to use it. People need to understand the power and features of the systems so that their time and company time is well spent.  Don’t let the complex system waste their time.[6]  People should be cross trained in many systems so that they can understand how others work and can step in when needed.

 Information should flow freely.  Keeping information in silos can lead to duplication of efforts and people working against each other.  The leader sets up communication channels so that operational and systems information is shared.  The information must also be archived for future generations to learn from.  In the college we have accreditation reports every few years.  Some of the information requested for the accreditation agencies is the same with minor variations.  The older reports are both part of the intuitional history and a guide for a new report.

 We also need to watch out for information overload.  The president does not need to know when a particular copier does not work but does need to know when there is a pattern to be addressed with the vendors. Each person needs to know or how to find the information they require to perform their jobs. Sometimes this information may be found in a directory, internal documents or within web pages. With this information the person can feel empowered. For the organization to act as a team, members learn what is important to other units and departments.  In the college we have academic departments (faculty), student support (counselors, tutors, financial aid, and others involved in helping students succeed), physical plant support (maintenance, cleaning, security, etc.), administrative (deans, directors, managers, human resources, marketing, accounting, etc.) and people working on long term concepts such as long term planning and building projects. Each department has people with special training and foci.  A professor is the one responsible for instruction, but they depend on the physical plant to have a classroom ready for use. (When we go back to classroom.) Leaders make sure the mission and task of each department is knowable.

When people understand the systems and the information is flowing, the highest level of leadership can exist, self-actualization.

 4)  Self-actualization -- The last one is the most desirable and most important of all. That is when the leadership is internalized as part of the corporate culture. When the people have the tools and when the situation requires, they will take up leadership.  The leadership could be control of the self or control of the group. The college president who has trained the organization well, has a team that express the leadership goals in ways that people work by habit. The “habits” are the behaviors the self-actualization. An effective leader habituates his organization to perform positively and kindly and fill the needs of the people in the organization and the organization itself.

Q> Your power statements are very similar to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He lists five areas—physiological, safety, love, esteem and self-actualization. Are your power statements connected?

 A> I can’t get away from my psychology background.  People need to feel good in order to be happy. Just like Maslow’s ideas concerning individual needs are part of the mature psyche, the organization has needs. The need for the building to work is like the physiological and safety needs.  If the building needs repair, is not cleaned and not a welcoming place, the work and learning will suffer. If the people are not friendly, caring, or able to work together, that is similar to Maslow’s lack of love on the personal level. If the systems don’t work and there is a lack of esteem, that is an indication the workers are missing key aspects of institutional information.

 The challenge of “power” is how to use to motivate and not corrupt. Rabbi Sacks talks of two examples of leaders, one shows leadership qualities from an early age as if his/her entire upbringing and education leads to leadership. The second is a frailer personality who makes mistakes, learns from the mistake, learns how to repent, and then assumes a leadership role. Rabbi Sacks brings up the example of a president who commits sexual misconduct.  Do we want or can we ever trust a president who mistreats people even when it has nothing to do with the organization? The answer is, “no,” because if he lied to some people about the misconduct, then how can we trust him with the organization.  Another person over 20 years ago made a poor business decision.  Now the organization is desperately trying to survive.  He is in a similar situation now. He learned from his mistake and now does not repeat his sin.  He steps up to a leadership role.  He exhibits a complete repentance that we believe. Is he forgiven?  “Yes,” because he learned from his mistake. His actions and words of repentance match.

 Q> How does one nurture leadership in the College?

A> The short answer is to share power, offer opportunities to take responsibility for one’s actions, give people to knowledge they require to succeed, learn constantly, and create a caring and respectful atmosphere.  The long answer would take a yearlong graduate seminar.

Just because you follow all my advice does not mean you will have a successful and prosperous company or organization.  First, the organization has to have the right people with the best talent. If they can be motivated to work toward success, then there is a great chance of prospering.  Second, some conditions are just beyond the leader’s control.  One can’t control the weather or the whims of the public.  If no one is buying the product or service, the organization will not prosper.  However, long-term planning and marketing can overcome some of the market fluctuations and natural phenomena. A year ago, no one could predict the disruption in our society due to the pandemic.  Some companies were able to change focus and succeed. To change the organization, people need to act as a team with a common mission.[7] 

 Q>As always you have given me much to think about. We are out of time. Thank you.

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part forty-three of imaginary interviews with the president of the College. After more than 40 interviews the president is no longer “new,” but since we are all works in progress, I am continuing the series as if s/he were a “new president.” Please feel free to suggest new ideas for interviews and presidential comments. This article is for your information, amusement, and edification. Everything is true, but some details have not yet happened. Any connection to a real college or president is strictly coincidental.



[1]   See: “The Unexpected Leader” by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  : https://tinyurl.com/y6vfxy9q “Women as Leaders” by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. https://outorah.org/p/770  Both retrieved from the OU Torah Website https://OUTorah.org    on Dec. 27, 2020.
His book Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible / by Jonathan Sacks. New York:  Maggid Press, 2015 was not consulted for this article.

 [2] See the article: “What is Gödel's proof?”  in Scientific American, Feb.. 16,2005.  Retrieved on Dec. 27, 2020 from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-goumldels-proof/

 [3] When the word “president” is used it also means the agents or the team the president has assembled. Clearly it take a team to master all the systems and create all the rule for a smooth flow of resources and information.

 [4]  Hebrew text: ובמקום שאין אנשים השתדל לחיות איש.

[6] Some examples of wasting time to avoid:  A financial control system put in place to make sure moneys are spent properly wastes staff time to input data.  The salary of the people involved costs more than the amounts of money spent.  Example two—smart rooms set up and then not training people how to use their power.

[7] The ideas of leadership in this article were discussed with many of my friends.  I thank Carol Amsterdam, Rabbi Michael Myers, and Dr. Stephen Karesh for their help.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Etymology of the Word Tel תל

Librarian's Lobby May 2000, Daniel D. Stuhlman Etymology of the Word Tel

Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman May 2000

Using the Correct Reference Tool


A recent discussion on the listServ, AUTOCAT, for librarian-catalogers, talked about the word, <tel תל>. We are all familiar with this word meaning an artificial hill, or a mound, from a previous settlement. Since the word has passed into the English language, the first librarian looked up the word in an unabridged English dictionary. The English dictionary correctly defined the word and gave the etymology as if the word came from Arabic.

Using the correct tools let us examine this word's etymology. Arabic as a written language is much more recent than Hebrew. Old or Early Arabic has no surviving written records. The Talmud, which pre-dates written Arabic, has some statements containing names of objects in Arabic, making the Talmud one of the earliest sources of recorded Arabic.

Classical Arabic1 dates from about 632 C.E. with the creation of an Arab empire. Arabic contained many dialects because the speakers were tribal and isolated from each other. However, speakers from different dialects could understand each other. Because of this isolation, Arabic had fewer outside influences than Hebrew and tended to have short vowels. Because of the synthetic nature of how Arabic developed in the classical period, most of the verbal and noun forms are created from three letter roots.

Hebrew, too, has three-letter roots, but certain words have remnants or clues to earlier two-letter roots. For example some two-letter roots became words with a yod as the middle letter or via a doubling of one of the letters.

The word <TL> in Hebrew and its verbal form <TL> is a very old word that has a two letter root. The word appears in Devorim (13:17) and Yehoshua (13:17) as Tel Olam. If we just take the Biblical evidence, the word is more than 2000 years older than any Arabic source. The word is not of the Arabic origin.

One can not depend on an English dictionary2 for the etymology of a Semitic word. The appropriate dictionary to use is, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, edited by Francis Brown with the co-operation of S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, (Oxford University Press, 1966, known as BDB). This dictionary has the definition and etymology of every word in Tanach.

According to BDB, <TL> appears in many other Semitic languages including Arabic, Syriac, Old Aramaic, and Assyrian. BDB says the word is probably a loan word from the Assyrian tilu meaning mound or heap. <TL> is one word that appears in many languages with very little variation in meaning. It is my guess that the reason the word changed very little is because it is a pre-Biblical word that describes a very exact kind of place that has wide-spread usage over all the Middle East.

I can understand how the English dictionaries made the mistake in the etymology. In the Arabic speaking world the use of the word tell to name ancient cities is very prevalent. Ancient Jericho is called Tell es Sultan, Megiddo is called Tell Mutesellim, and the central mound of Ur is called Tell el Muqayyar. Kathleen Kenyon in Archaeology of the Holy Land (New York, 1970) explains how the growth of a tell is characteristic of the Middle East. The mud-brick building material of a destroyed building disintegrates into mud which can be the materials of a new building. When buildings were made of stone, the stones from a destroyed building could be used to build a new structure. The job of an archeologist is to excavate the tell and interpret the remains so that the history can be reconstructed. In books of archeology written before the rebirth of spoken Hebrew, the word tell is a part of a place name.3 Since Middle East archeology is very different from European archeology, it is natural to use the local word to name the place.

I reported the above information, in digest form, to AUTOCAT. One of the Jewish librarians, who is not a Jewish scholar, thanked me for explaining "scientifically" what he guessed was the right answer. Another librarian pointed out how I forgot to mention Greek reference books for the study of the Christian Bible. I didn't need to reply because someone answered my concern first. The person who replied asked, "How can Greek dictionaries help in the understanding of the Hebrew text?"

The Jewish librarian in a private message to me said that this kind of wrong information has implications beyond the correct cataloging of library materials. It means readers can not depend on some sources for the understanding of a term because bias can creep into the most respected reference sources.


1. Arabic belongs to the southwest Semitic branch, while Hebrew belongs to the northwest branch.

2. The Oxford English Dictionary oddly lists as a primary source of tell the book of Joshua, but still says the word comes from Arabic.

3. While English speaking archaeologists in later part of the 20th century used the word tell, writers in the 19th century and early part of the 20th century used "mound." See Explorations in Bible Lands during the 19th century,by H.V. Hilprecht (Edinburgh, 1903) page 28, "The most northern mound is Babil, called by the natives Mujeliba." On page 156 the author gives place names Tell Sifr and Tell Medina, but uses the word "mound" when describing the place.

Frederic Delitzsch in The Hebrew Language : viewed in the light of Assyrian research (London, 1883) discusses on pages 16-17 place names beginning with <TL> and their meaning.

Tel-Aviv has a Biblical source (Yehezkel 3:15) and the word <TL> and its verbal forms are in the Talmud.

 ©2003, 2020 Last revised December 25, 2020

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Pesach and American Soldiers

Librarian's Lobby April 2000, Daniel D. Stuhlman Torah Scroll Question

Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
April 2000

Pesach and American Soldiers


In looking over my father's memorabilia, I found a program and menu for a Pesach seder for soldiers that occurred in Casblanca
in 1943. Jewish soldiers were allowed leave to go to Casablanca. My father
had been in heavy fighting in Italy. He never talked about the fighting, but he remembered the sedarim. Since he had a powerful voice and loved to sing, he was able to help lead the singing.2 The ability of Jewish soldiers to gather and celebrate was very important for their morale. Frequently soldiers were subjected to anti-Semitism and racism by fellow soldiers and commanding officers. The holiday celebration was a time to leave the fighting and join with fellow Jews in the celebration of freedom. Since I have no notes of the event, I can only imagine what the leader of the Casblanca seder said about the struggle for Jews to leave Egypt and the struggle for the Army to win the War. He probably said the events were connected and now we should all act as free men.

In the book, God's Warriors, by Dov Peretz Elkins (Jonathan David Publishers, 1974) many stories are told of Jewish chaplains who helped take care of Jewish soldiers and save Jewish lives. Rabbi Judah Nadich was an advisor to General Eisenhower. Eisenhower and Nadich were instrumental in getting aid to Jews in DP camps. President Truman sent a very strongly worded letter to Eisenhower concerning the problems of helping the victims. General Patton was fired over the issue of how he dealt with the DPs. When released from the army in December 1945, Rabbi Nadich toured the world to tell what happened and to raise money to help the survivors. Eisenhower and Truman's policy of helping the Jews led directly to the Pesach seder of the Survivor's Haggadah.

In another chapter, Rabbi Elkins, tells of a seder in Goebbels' Castle in April 1945. The war was in its closing weeks. Chaplain Joseph S. Shubow was discussing Passover arrangements with his men. A few days after the discussion, the U.S. Army crossed the Rhine River. This was symbolically connected by the commanding officer of the Ninth Army, General John P. Anderson, to the Jews crossing the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds). Rabbi Shubow wanted to make that Passover different and memorable to all the Jewish men of the Ninth Army. They learned about the meaning of freedom and talked about the connection between the tyrant of Germany and the Pharaoh. Rabbi Shubnow needed to find a place to hold a seder for 400 people. One of the local residents told him about the castle. The press officer was shocked and amazed. Not only did he help them, but made sure everyone knew of the irony. He wanted to write a script for a movie, because he never thought anyone would believe a documentary story of a Jewish Passover in the home of a Nazi. The words of the young soldier who said that the crossing of the Rhine would be like the exodus from Egypt proved prophetic. A few weeks, later the army took Berlin and Goebbels took his own life. We do not know if he knew about the Passover in his home.


 Footnotes
1. For those of you keeping count-- in 1998 I mentioned in this column that my personal collection had more than 75 haggadot. As of December 2020 I have more than 178 in the collection.

2. After the War my father had dreams of being an actor and/or radio announcer. He never did either professionally. He kept up his singing and was a regular in the Yiddish Theater and other amateur community theater groups.

Last revised December 23, 2020.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Passover Story from Harvard

Librarian's Lobby March 2000, Daniel D. Stuhlman Pesah story from Harvard

Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
March 2000

Passover Story from Harvard

In the March-April 2000 issue of Harvard Magazine is a short article by Deborah Schneider1 about a Pesah haggadah that was issued for a seder in the Munich, Germany, area on April 15-16, 1946. This was first Pesah after World War II. As a collector of haggadot the idea that Harvard Magazine would publish an aricle about a haggdah and the content of this article was very interesting. The big A for the Army of the United States was familiar and even the idea of an Army run seder was familiar to me.2

Saul Touster, a retired attorney and professor at Brandeis University, was cleaning his father's papers and a pamphlet with the Army's big A, insignia of the Third Army fell to the floor. Upon examining it he found out it was a Pesah Haggadah. On the cover was the place and date, Munich Enclave, April 15-16, 1946. At first glance Touster thought the haggadah was for Army personnel in Germany, but as he examined it he was struck by the stark woodcuts of scenes from concentration camps. Touster realized that this haggadah recast the traditional text in terms of liberation from the camps.

Moved by the images, Touster decided to find out more about the pictures and why the Army published this booklet. He also wondered how the book came into his father's possession since his father had been a soldier in South Pacific and was never in Europe during the war or in 1946. After retiring from teaching American studies and legal studies at Brandeis, he had time to pursue his quest. This research project became like detective work as the pieces of the puzzle were assembled. He received help from many librarians.

It took him two years to uncover the story. His father was given the rare haggadah as a token of appreciation for his work helping displaced persons. Touster found the name of the Lithuanian writer, Yosef Dov Sheinson,who edited and arranged the haggadah. The ink drawings and texts in modern Hebrew and Yiddish were his work. Touster found the American Army chaplain named in the book, Rabbi Abraham Klausner, living in retirement in Santa Fe. One of Rabbi Klausner's official duties was to hold services for American GIs. He bent the rules to hold a seder for camp survivors. He wanted to provide a seder and a square meal for the undernourished civilians.

Touster identified the woodcut artist with the help of an archivist at Yad Vashem. The artist was Miklos Adler, a Hungarian artist who survived the war.

With his search complete, Touster was able to write the introduction and commentary for the facsimile edition of the Survivor's Haggadah with an English translation published in a trade edition by the Jewish Publication Society (2000). This haggadah is in my personal collection.

Notes:

1. During the revising of this article I noticed that my citation was incomplete. I searched my usual academic databases, EbSCO, ProQuest, Jstor and Google Scholar. None had the full text or even a bibliographic citation. I even asked another reference librarian for help. The magazine's entry in Harvard University's library system (HOLLIS) gave a link to Harvard Magazine's home page which had a link to their archieves. However. the archives only went back to 2001. I tried to phone their office and the call went to voice mail. Today (December 23) I got a reply from Allison M. Kern. She not only gave a nice reply, but also sent a PDF of the article. The full citation is: "Passover Story," by Deborah Schneider. Harvard Magazine March-April 2000 (102:4) page 92C.

Harvard Magazine is written for alumi of Harvard University. I don't know if they purposely are not indexed or the decision as made by Ebsco that this publication does not meet their requirements for inclusion. Saul Touster earned degrees from Harvard in 1946 and 1948.

2. For Passover 1943 the Alliance Israelite Universelle and the Army organized a huge Passover seder in Casablanca. My father was there.


 ©2003, 2020 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised Dec 23, 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Special Purim Celebrations

Librarian's Lobby Februrary 2000, Daniel D. Stuhlman Special Purims

Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
February 2000


Special Purim Celebrations

The holiday of Purim commemorates one of the many times that the Jews of a community, when threatened with destruction, were saved. These deliverance days were inaugurated and celebrated as festivals on their yearly anniversary. The threats include man-made (mobs, tyrants, etc) and natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, etc.). The events are varied, but the common thread is the inauguration of a day of celebration. Families, that were saved, also introduced special family celebrations.

On March 9, 1977, terrorists invaded the Washington, DC headquarters of B'nai B'rith. 136 hostages were held for 38 hours. The hostages were hit, pistol-whipped, and verbally abused. Police were finally able to negotiate an end to the ordeal. All were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.

When the ordeal was over the hostages gave thanks to God that they were still alive. On the anniversary of the event, a special Purim was established, known as the Frimer Family Purim. 1

The famous bibliographer, Moritz Steinschneider records 22 Purims ("Purim und Parodie" in MGWJ, vol. 47), The Jewish Encyclopedia (vol. 10 p. 279-283. New York, Funk and Wagnalls, 1905) has 29, and the Encyclopedia Judaica (vol. 13 cols. 1396-1400. Jerusalem, Keter, 1971) has 110. Cecil Roth wrote an important article covering Purims during the period of 1790-1801 ("Some revolutionary Purims" in Hebrew Union College Annual, vol. 10 p. 451-482). Philip Goodman in The Purim Anthology (Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society, 1949) has a chapter on special Purims.

We seem to have very little written about these special days when the Jews were saved. There are no books devoted to the topic. I would just like to retell one of these events because it parallels the Biblical Purim.

The source is, Old European Jewries, by David Philipson (Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society, 1894). The city of Frankfurt-am-Main was home to Jews from about the year 1360, when permission was given to settle in the city. They had no political rights, nor could they hold office. In 1460 they were compelled to live in a ghetto. In the 17th century, there was a particular animosity by the members of the trade guilds against the Jews. The trade guilds wanted the Jews expelled from the city. Their leader was a baker, Vincent Fettmilch. On August 22, 1614, they attacked. However, the Jews had been warned. The Jews prepared to resist by procuring arms and defensive gates. After removing their wives and children to a safe place, the men went to the synagogue to pray. While there, they heard the mob attacking the gates. Since the mob couldn't break the gates, they entered the ghetto through a house next to the gate. A fight followed for the next eight hours. Two Jews and one attacker were killed. The Jews were outnumbered and overwhelmed. The mob plundered the houses until a band of armed citizens stopped them. The town council advised the Jews to leave, because they could not be protected. They remained away for a year and a half until order could be restored

The leaders of the mob were convicted and beheaded. The Christian population was required to pay the Jews 175,919 florins as compensation for the damages. In memory of these events, the 19th of Adar was a fast day, remembering of the departure from Frankfurt and the 20th of Adar became a holiday called Purim Fettmilch, in honor of their return.


New Books

Rabbi Yitzchak Sender has just published his 13th book, The Commentators' Al Hanissim : insights of the sages on Purim and Chanukah, vol. 1 Purim. This book continues his Commentator series. Rabbi Sender is a master teacher and Senior Rosh Yeshiva at HTC. This book examines the halacha and customs for Purim in the Tanach and Talmud in light of the writings of commentators such as Rashi; Elijah, the Vilna Gaon; Rambam and others. The book is lacking an index and a bibliography.

Muktzeh: a practical guide : a comprehensive treatment of the principles and common application of the laws of muktzeh, by Simcha Bunim Cohen. (Mesorah Publications, 1999) The author in his preface hopes that this book will meet the needs of both the newcomer and advanced Torah scholar. The footnotes not only have the bibliographic references, but also have extensive quotes of the Hebrew source texts.

Etymological dictionary of Biblical Hebrew : based on the commentaries of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, by Matityahu Clark (Feldheim Publishers, 1999) One of the most important contributions to the understanding of the Tanach made by Rabbi Hirsch has been to use the etymologies of words to understand the text. In this book Rabbi Clark arranges in alphabetical order, by roots, all the words that Rabbi Hirsch uses in his commentaries. Rabbi Clark, who is a lifelong educator and student of Rabbi Hirsch, lives in Jerusalem.

The Ancient Synagogue : the first thousand years, [by] Lee I. Levine (Yale University Press, 1999). This is a massive (748 pages) study which is a development of Professor Levine's teaching and research for the past twenty years. During this time he has edited and written articles on the history and archeology of the ancient synagogue. Professor Levine covers the archaeology, physical characteristics, and the social and communal roles of the synagogue. The bibliography and indexes cover 132 pages.

Professor Levine (1939- )was a professor of Jewish history and archaeology at Hebrew University.


Footnote

1. The story was told by Rabbi Norman Frimer in his book, A Jewish Quest for Religious Meaning : collected essays. (Hoboken, NJ : Ktav Publishing House ; Washington, DC : B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundations, 1993)

 ©2004, 2020 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised December 15, 2020

Name Authority

Librarian's Lobby January 2000, Daniel D. Stuhlman Name Authority

Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
January 2000

Name Authority

Names fascinate me. As gabbai of my shul, one of my tasks is to be the keeper of the Hebrew names. I keep records of names for the purpose of preparing cards for calling people for an aliyah. It is interesting to see how some families have recurring names in the generations. We have families with unconventional spellings of names, families with easy names to remember and families with difficult to pronounce names.

Sometimes the Library receives calls for help with names. When a child is born parents consult name books for ideas. When a rabbi writes a ketubah or get sometimes he needs to check sources to make sure the names are spelled correctly.

Each author in the library catalog must have a unique name entry. If two authors have the same names, the cataloger must differentiate them. The usual method is to add a birth year (and death years if no longer alive). A few weeks ago we received a book written by David Cohen.1 ''David Cohen" is a common name. In order to catalog the book I had to check sources to see how his name had been entered by other libraries. The book had not been cataloged by any other libraries. Since the book was requested for immediate use, I decided to do original cataloging. The blurb about the author of the book said that he was a rabbi of a congregation in Brooklyn and gave the name of the congregation. He had no middle name or date of birth.

I checked my bibliographic sources and found 32 authors on Jewish subjects with the same name. There were over 30 more authors on topics from sciences and humanities. None of the authors matched the author of the book in hand.

I thought that the publisher could help. A call to the publisher told me that the congregation was not just in Brooklyn; it was in Flatbush. I used the internet to search for the congregation. I found a lawyer who was a member and sent him an e-mail. He replied within two hours with the author's birth date (1932). With this authority, establishing the author's name in the catalog was then easy to complete.

 



1. The book is :Templates for the ages : historical perspectives through the Torah's lenses by David Cohen; translated by Sara Cohen. New York, Mesorah Publications, 1999.

<  ©2003, 2020 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.

Last revised Dec. 15, 2020

Audio recordings and Klezmer Music

Librarian's Lobby December 1999, Daniel D. Stuhlman -- A Confidential Recording
Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
December 1999

Recent Gifts, Audio Recordings and Klezmer Music

I received a call from a lawyer about a woman who died without children and who had a 1000 recent Judaica books in her apartment. The lawyer wanted to know if the Library was interested. I made an appointment to examine the collection. When I arrived I saw boxes and boxes containing music CDs, cassette tapes and video tapes on the floor. The shelves were full of books. Since the Library had no CDs and few music tapes, I started to look for the Jewish albums. I was more excited about the recordings than the books. I took three boxes of them back to the Library, rather than books. Most of the CDs were still in their original shrink wraps, unopened and never played. Evidently the woman liked to buy them more than play them. I was never told the name of the woman. The executor of the estate did not want a thank you letter.

A Confidential Recording

Think back to the mid-1950's. How would someone distribute information to a large audience without writing it in the newspapers, magazines, TV or radio? Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, vice-president of the United Jewish Appeal had that problem. In the sleeve of a children's record from one of recent gifts was a ten inch 33 1/3 record labelled: Special report, by Herbert A. Friedman. Important: Highly Confidential. No part of this recording may be broadcast, published or reported in the press.

This recording reported on the difficult situation in Poland in 1955-56. According to the American Jewish Year Book the Jewish population of post-war Poland was impossible to determine with great accuracy. In the late 1940's 30,000 former Zionist party members emigrated to Israel. Over 25,000 refugees who spent the war years in the Soviet Union returned to Poland. Poland was not a safe place for Jews after the war. There were anti-Semitic attacks and pograms.1

Stalin's death in 1953 and new leadership in Poland in 1956 eased some of the tensions between the Jews and the rest of the population. Poland freely gave exit visas to Jews. This recording is a report of private and secret activities of the UJA in 1956. The recording mentions activities by months but not the year. I am assuming the year was 1956, based on the events as reported in the American Jewish Year Book and Encyclopedia Judaica. The UJA was afraid that if the mass emigration was reported in the press, the Polish authorities would stop the visas. The problem that the UJA had was money. Rabbi Friedman said that it costs about $1000 to save each person. He asks for money to save the remaining Jews of Poland. He tells of Jews leaving Poland by train, ship and airplane. They were sometimes leaving at more than 1,000 per week. Rabbi Friedman says over 50,000 Jews left Poland. The American Jewish Year Book 1959 reports that 30,000 Jews left Poland between 1956 and 1957. Whole towns were emptied of Jews.

This story of Polish emigration has not been told in great detail. Rabbi Friedman's recording is an interesting historical document, shedding light on the methodology of fund raising and the Jewish situation in Poland in the mid-1950's.

Klezmer Music

Two exhibit cases of the Jewish music are now displaying materials related to klezmer music. Klezmer music has its roots in Eastern European Jewish folk music. The musical sounds frequently include a glissando 2 , which is a rapid scale that blends all the sounds between the first and second note. Klezmer is happy, peppy and upbeat. It has an improvisational component like jazz. Classic instruments used by Klezmer musicians are the clarinet, violin and hammered dulcimer (This is a type of keyboard instrument that uses a hammer to strike strings. It is called tsimbal in Yiddish or Czech). Contemporary Klezmer bands use almost any instrument found in a symphonic band or orchestra. Klezmer musicians played for weddings, parties and other happy occasions. Some groups even played for non-Jewish functions because they were so good. However, socially they were not respected. Leonard Bernstein's father once told him never become a Klezmer musician. The frelichs and other wedding dances have roots in the Eastern European Klezmer tradition. The Chicago area has two bands that are important in the revival of the Klezmer tradition, the Ruby Harris Orchestra and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Ruby Harris once played with the Diaspora Yeshiva Band, an early Jewish Rock group / Klezmer group. The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band has performed locally, nationally and in Europe. They are famous for the big band sound.

Many famous American Jewish entertainers made significant contributions to klezmer music.


Klezmer music contrasts with the central European music of the Chazzan and choir. The controlled precise sound of the chazzan came from training, experience and connection to the tefilah. Improvisation was limited. While the Chazzan may sing outside of the synagogue, his sound was always more formal than the klezmer.

The Library display has samples from our music collection, sheet music (loaned from the collection of Ruby Harris), and other materials loaned from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and the Highland Park Public Library.


Notes:
1. On Aug. 11, 1945 in Cracow and in Kielce on July 4, 1946 thousands of Polish people ran amuck through the Jewish quarters and injured or killed Jews. In 1945 352 Jews were reported murdered for anti-Semitic reasons. By the end of 1947 only about 100,000 Jews remained in Poland.
2. One famous glissando is the clarinet solo at the beginning of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

 ©2003, 2006, 2020 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised Dec. 5, 2020