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The Ban on Books by Morah Melissa Schwartz

Featured in the March/April 2022 Contemporary

The seventh grade class has discussed a variety of current event topics since the start of the school year. We have discussed accurate portrayals of characters in movies, inclusion, as well as the concept of public figures as role models. No topic garnered as much passionate discussion as the proposed ban on books. Our discussion did not start with the ban on Maus, it started with the proposed ban and “book burning” in Spotsylvania County of which I am a resident. The students felt that the banning of any books was wrong and harkened back to the era of Nazi soldiers burning books by Jewish authors. In Spotsylvania County, books that covered topics such as LGBTQ issues, suicide, depression, and others were on the block to be banned. The students felt that denying teens and young adults the opportunity to read these books would be denying them the opportunity to see characters facing issues they were facing as well. The discussion then moved to parental involvement in what children read, as well as the
involvement of schools or government in controlling what books are offered in libraries and bookstores. The students all agreed that parent involvement was important but differed on what extent that took.

When the subject came up a week or so later about the banning of Maus, the students felt that banning books about the Holocaust felt more personal to them. They were outraged as Jewish teens and also confused as to what possible cause could a school board determine to ban this book. Using Maus as our guide, we have started our Holocaust curriculum and the proposed ban on Maus has served as our springboard to dive into this topic.

Interviews from OT's 50th Anniversary

Featured in the January/February 2022 Contemporary

Roberta Wulf, Olam Tikvah's first female president

Brenda Klemow, Olam Tikvah's second female president

Contemporary Videos

Interview with Rabbi Viki Bedo

Interview featured in the September/October 2021 Contemporary

Question 1: Welcome to OT!  We are thrilled that you are going to be our new Assistant Rabbi. You’ve just started to meet our Congregation, what are your first impressions?

Question 2: You have not only chosen Judaism, but chosen to lead as a Rabbi. What motivated you?

Question 3: As you were exploring your Judaism, what drew you to Conservative Judaism?

Question 4: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?

Question 5: Each Rabbi is unique, bringing particular strengths, enthusiasm and gifts. What should the Congregation look for as your Rabbinic “super powers?”

Question 6: You are coming to OT at a unique time in the world, when we seek to reengage and reconnect with each other. Is there any inspiration from the Torah, Talmud or Jewish history that you are looking to energize your first year with us?

Question 7: As a new parent, what do you look forward to at OT? Tell us a little about your experience!

Question 8: What do you hope to accomplish at OT?

Interview with Mala Hod, Shlicha

Interview featured in the September/October 2021 Contemporary

Mon, October 3 2022 8 Tishrei 5783