Important News to Share

We have important news to share. After more than 12 years as CEO of Jewish LearningWorks and a distinguished career of service to the local and worldwide Jewish community, David Waksberg will retire at the end of June, 2020. His successor will be Dana Sheanin, currently our Chief Strategy Officer.

David’s unwavering commitment to extending Jewish education to learners in every generation and his devotion to educator support, professional development, and the Jewish Community Library have been the hallmarks of his time as our CEO. Our financial stability and our trusted partnerships with Jewish agencies, schools, and synagogues would not be possible without his leadership.

Dana Sheanin has been part of the Jewish LearningWorks team since 2016, and a dedicated leader in the Jewish community for nearly 25 years. At Jewish LearningWorks, she has overseen our professional development programs, developed Voices For Good, our innovative women’s leadership initiative, and serves on our senior management team. Her passion for Jewish education is infectious, and she is already working with David to ensure a smooth transition. We are delighted that she will be our next CEO.

We will have opportunities to celebrate David and welcome Dana in the coming months. In the meantime, we want to express our deepest gratitude to David for the heart and professionalism he brings to his work, and our enthusiastic support for Dana as she takes us from strength to strength.

On behalf of our Board of Directors, I extend our sincere appreciation for your engagement, support, and generosity in the critical work we do for our community.

Julie Dorsey,
Board President

off the shelf | New books about WWII Jewish refugee crisis and FDR

New books: Detailed looks at WWII Jewish refugee crisis, and FDR

For students of American Jewish history, few topics are as haunting and controversial as the Roosevelt administration's response to the oppression and annihilation of European Jews. It is a topic that continues to be elucidated and argued, and two new books add to our understanding. Franklin D.

Refugees’ stories collected by Rabbi Lee Bycel presented at Jewish Community Library

Refugees' stories illuminate universal pain of leaving home - J.

In "Refugees in America," Rabbi Lee T. Bycel introduces his book with lines from a poem by British-based writer and activist Warsan Shire, born in Kenya to Somali parents: "No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark." No doubt Jewish journalist and political philosopher Hannah Arendt, who fled Nazi Germany for ...

This year’s One Bay One Book pick is novel by Australian Hasidic author

This year's One Bay One Book pick is novel by Australian Hasidic author - J.

A novel about a 57-year-old Jewish grandmother unexpectedly pregnant with twins is Jewish LearningWorks' selection for its next One Bay One Book program. "On Division," which will be published Sept. 17, was written by Goldie Goldbloom, a 54-year-old Australian-born author who had great success with ...

CEO Letter: The Blessings of Grandparenting

CEO Letter: The Blessings of Grandparenting

When I was ten years old, our family saw Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway.  This was a big deal.  My grandparents, who NEVER went to the theater, came.  As immigrants from Eastern Europe, Fiddler felt like their story. 

The first act climaxes with a wedding, punctuated by a pogrom, bringing the wedding joy to a crashing halt. The townspeople invade and trash the wedding, and the roughed-up celebrants flee in fear.

The sold-out crowd is stunned; you can hear a pin drop.

Until my grandmother, resident of the Bronx, by way of Przemyśl, Poland, pierces the silence:  “This they call a pogrom?” she remarks, unimpressed.

off the shelf | New short story collections are dispatches from outposts of Jewish life

New short story collections are dispatches from outposts of Jewish life - J.

Although I treasure authors whose fiction can vault us into places that strain our imagination, I am equally appreciative of those who are able to distill meaning from lived experience. Such is the case with three new volumes of stories grounded in their authors' own backgrounds.

off the shelf | Arab Jews, Latino Jews and other complicated identities

New books: Arab Jews, Latino Jews and other complicated identities - J.

The attention paid to identity politics in the past decade has made the word identity a fraught one. But questions of identity are very real and deserving of discussion, and notably for Jews.

off the shelf | Books on books: uncovering the role of libraries in Jewish history

Books on books: uncovering the role of libraries in Jewish history - J.

With such a radical shift in how we access ideas and information, it is difficult for children like mine who were born into the internet age to grasp how we were able to function without the ability to perform a Google search.

A friendship made through the Jewish Community Library Pushcart at the Oshman Family JCC

From Bronx to Palo Alto, these nonagenarians walked parallel paths in life - J.

Bernard Marcus and Marty Katz grew up one block away from each other in the South Bronx and attended the same high school. But it was 80 years before they met in Palo Alto, 3,000 miles away from where they began. How did this happen? It was all because of a book.

About Time: Closing the Gender Gap in Jewish Organizational Life

About Time: Closing the Gender Gap in Jewish Organizational Life

By Dana Sheanin Will our future be female? As I reflect on last summer's allegations against sociologist Steven M. Cohen, I see the seeds of a critical transfer of leadership in Jewish organizational life. In the past year, scores of women who have dedicated their careers to serving the Jewish community have spoken or written about the barriers to our advancement.

Blog post on Library program: Famous Father Girl author Jamie Bernstein delights a crowd of Lenny Lovers!

Famous Father Girl author Jamie Bernstein delights a crowd of Lenny Lovers!

There's an amusing family story that Leonard Bernstein's oldest daughter shares with innumerable audiences during her book tours, and it tumbles out with perfect timing, like a fresh and spontaneous wave of a baton. (Why not? She was exposed to decades of baton plastique, a seamless legato flow of singing pulses that carried Mahler Symphonies...

off the shelf | Two new books give Zionist feminists a well-deserved place in history

Two new books give Zionist feminists a well-deserved place in history - J.

As women have all too often been written out of history, I am always pleased when books emerge that cast light on women who might otherwise escape our attention. Such is the case with two new releases depicting the lives of two remarkable women, both ...

off the shelf | spiritual disquiet and atonement in Nathan Englander’s Kaddish.com

Spiritual disquiet and atonement in Nathan Englander's 'Kaddish.com' - J.

I do enjoy lighter reading, but I'm disposed toward works of fiction that leave me asking questions and thinking about ideas. Two new novels have done just that. At the center of Nathan Englander's just-released "Kaddish.com" is Larry, a 30ish bachelor who left the Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of his childhood to lead an avowedly secular ...

World-famous Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman to speak at Library

World-famous Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman is around Bay for a bit - J.

Renowned Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman flew into the Bay Area on March 11 with seven new handbells, a nearly finished choral piece, nascent plans to compose another work and multiple opportunities to meet with students. Her two-month stay is courtesy of the Israel Institute's Visiting Artists Program, which brings Israeli film, music, dance and visual ...

Philip Roth’s prescient ‘Plot Against America’ is focus of event series

Philip Roth's prescient 'Plot Against America' is focus of event series - J.

As a generator of controversy, American Jewish writer Philip Roth has few peers. Everyone seems to have an opinion about Roth, author of the short-fiction collection "Goodbye Columbus" (1959), the graphic, male-centric novel "Portnoy's Complaint" (1969), and his elegy to the tumultuous '60s, "American ...

off the shelf | new memoirs explore home, food, and family

New memoirs explore home, food and family history - J.

For those attuned to the Torah reading cycle, now is a time of prolonged wandering in search of home - a theme that will remain powerful throughout Jewish history, long after the Israelites have made it out of the desert wilderness.

Toward a Strategic Philanthropic Approach to Field Building

Toward a Strategic Philanthropic Approach to Field Building

By Susan Kardos [As The AVI CHAI Foundation prepares to sunset, a year-long series from their staff about philanthropic lessons learned.] About ten years ago we, at The AVI CHAI Foundation, set out to determine our spend-down strategy for our Jewish day school work, which we have been documenting and sharing here.

off the shelf | new books on what we receive from our parents

How our parents keep telling us who we are, even after they're gone - J.

Our relationships with our parents abide well after they are gone. Two wonderful new books mark the enduring connection between generations in very different ways. Dani Shapiro's parents had already figured prominently in two of her popular memoirs: in "Slow Motion," which captures the impact ...