Project Perpetuates Jewish Culture and Ideas

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Long

Several years ago I went to Jerusalem for a library conference. While there, I went to the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum and saw the Dead Sea Scrolls.

While we toured, our guide explained the process for creating the Jewish holy book, the Torah. He emphasized that copying a Torah scroll was an exacting process. The scribe creates a new copy of the Torah, writing on several pieces of parchment that are fastened together, and continually checks for accuracy. If even one small mistake is made, that piece of parchment must be replaced.

If for some reason the parchment cannot be repaired, the unfinished Torah, still considered a holy document, is buried in the ground. Accuracy is essential when it comes to handing down the law of the creator. The tour guide said that when the 2,000-year- old Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered, Hebrew scholars were delighted to see that some text had found its way into the contemporary Torah found in synagogues across the globe today.

Jewish ideas and culture are among the oldest on earth. Our area now has a great opportunity to learn more through Nextbook, a new national initiative to promote Jewish literature, culture and ideas in new ways. Nextbook is partnering with the North Suburban Library System (NSLS) and the Chicago Public Library to build Jewish book collections and develop original literary programs.

In NSLS participating public libraries include: Deerfield, Evanston, Indian Trails, Lincolnwood, Northbrook, Skokie and Vernon Area. There is a Nextbook program with libraries in Seattle and more programs are planned in other cities around the country.

A project of Keren Keshet of the Rainbow Foundation, Nextbook uses literature as a gateway to Jewish culture and ideas. …