Andrew Elias Ramer is an Oakland based writer, presenter, maggid and author of Queering the Text, Torah Told Different, and the newly released Deathless. He is a dedicated patron of the Jewish Community Library.
The absolute heart of Jewish LearningWorks is the Library - it’s the center. There are classes, meetings, a revolving menu of programs and an ongoing art gallery with amazing shows on the walls - and the people who work there are extraordinary.
When I moved back to CA from NY in 1994, I was living on the Peninsula. There weren’t many Jewish resources there back then so I would take the train up to the Jewish Community Library. As a writer and a teacher it was (and remains) a critical resource for me. When I taught in the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at USF and also in my work as a conversion mentor, I brought and sent my students there. In the years that I have known Howard [JCL's Director], there has only ever been one time that I witnessed someone ask him a question that he could not answer immediately, and this level of knowledge and attention is true of everyone who works there.
We live in a time when more and more bookstores are closing, when people have shortening attention spans. That’s one of the reasons that I love the Book-Club-in-a-box program. The Library is a valuable wonderful access point for learning, sharing, and for participating in intelligent community.
The Jewish Community Library is a treasure. When I encounter Jews who don’t know about it, I am shocked and saddened. It’s such a vibrant and vital part of our community, with opportunities for all ages to connect, grow and learn.