Gathered Around the Seder Table: Images from the Passover Haggadah

(The following is a guest post by Sharon Horowitz, reference librarian in the Hebraic Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division.) Exodus 23:15 tells us that Passover should be celebrated in the spring. The rabbis understood this to mean it was their job to maintain the holiday in the spring, which required some manipulation […]

A Tale of Two Hebrew Patronesses

(The following post is by Ann Brener, Hebraic area specialist in the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division.) Every age has its own image of the “woman of valor,” and in the crumbling Jewish world of post-exilic Spain, that image was embodied in the persons of two unique women: Doña Gracia Nasi and Signora Benvenida […]

A Valentine for the Ages: The Biblical “Song of Songs”

(The following post is by Ann Brener, Hebraic area specialist in the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division.) With its rich nature imagery and enigmatic dream-like sequences, the “Song of Songs” (also known as the “Songs of Solomon”) is surely one of the world’s great love poems and one of the most popular books in […]

From Russia With Love: Illustrated Children’s Books in Hebrew

(The following is a post by Ann Brener, Hebraic area specialist in the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division.) Imagine that some brightly plumed bird-of-paradise has flown in amongst your backyard warblers, and you’ll probably know how I felt upon discovering a beautifully illustrated book in the vaults of the Library of Congress. Nestled between […]

A Friendly Feast

This Thanksgiving, I’ll be celebrating “Friendsgiving” – a thankful gathering for those of us unable to spend the holiday with our families. The veritable smorgasbord of dishes everyone is bringing got me thinking about everyone’s food traditions, since Turkey Day usually revolves around sharing a meal. I imagine my friends’ dishes come from old family […]

Collecting Comedy

(The following is an article from the May/June 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. Daniel Blazek, a recorded sound technician at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Preservation, wrote the story. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Laughter, with its links to the development of the human brain, no doubt […]

Highlighting the Holidays: Happy Hanukkah

In 2014, December 16 marked the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV. Also referred to as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah recalls the event. According to the Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, at the re-dedication […]

Jewish American Heritage: A Surviving Text

May marks Jewish American Heritage Month, and this year’s theme, designated by the Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition, honors the 100th anniversary of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). From its founding in 1914 to aid starving Jews in Palestine and Europe during World War I to life-saving rescues during war years to settling […]

“Words Like Sapphires”

A simple label inside thousands of rare books bears witness to the origins of one of the great collections of Hebrew material in the world: “Deinard Collection Presented by Jacob H. Schiff.” Beginning next week, the Library of Congress will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its Hebraic Collection – started with a gift from Schiff […]