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Facebook Friday with Susan Dubin

On Friday, January 28, AJL librarian and former AJL President Susan Dubin joined AJL Facebook fans for an hour of questions and answers on using general-interest books to teach Judaism and Jewish values.

Visit the Facebook Friday homepage here and email Heidi Estrin at heidi@cbiboca.org if you're interested in participating as a moderator or guest.


Association of Jewish Libraries: Welcome to Facebook Friday! With us today is Susan Dubin, librarian extraordinaire, to discuss using general-interest books to teach Judaism and Jewish values. Welcome, Susan!

Association of Jewish Libraries: This is Heidi Estrin - nice to "see" you, Suzi! Off the top of your head, do you want to name a few favorite secular books with Jewish values?

Susan Dubin: Hi everyone! I am here in sunny California. If anyone would like a bibliography I prepared for teaching about service learning, it has a lot of books covering various Jewish values.

Steven Bergson: I'm a bit uncomfortable with the concept of "Jewish values". As a Jew, I can identify certain values as being "Jewish", but several of them seem more like universal values which are shared by other faiths and cultures.

Susan Dubin: By Jewish values in our school environment we mean the mitzvot. Every year we highlight one of the m as a theme.

Sheryl Stahl I think it depends on the context - In a religious school, it make sense to teach Jewish values - even if other people/religions share them once the kid hits the street

Sheryl Stahl on the other hand - or same hand? I get really offended if when I help someone they thank me by saying that was very "Christian" of me.

Association of Jewish Libraries: True! It is also important to allow these students to be proud that such universal concepts are Jewish!

Steven Bergson: That's one perspective. Then there's the other one that questions why we Jews are "claiming" values that came from another culture.

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: sounds like another topic for another- and very lively- Q&A!

Susan Dubin: A favorite activity in our library is our cave for Shakespeare Week which morphs into a cave for Lag B'Omer. Students help decorate the cave and then come into the library pretending to watch for Roman soldiers. Of course, we tell Jewish stories secretly in the cave. Rabbi Ben Zakai watches over us.

Susan Dubin: Posted on our catalog website is a bibliography for B'tzelem Elohem. There are Judaic and secular books listed. The website is www.vbs.org/library. Do you have any favorites?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: Did we lose a comment under Heidi's first question?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Yes. I posted a response and now it is gone. Suzi Dubin

Susan Dubin: I answered Heidi's question by saying that just last week I used "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss to teach about Tu B'Shevat. The children made a puppet play conversation between the Lorax and the Onceler about the importance of trees.
Another book I use every year is "The Relatatives Came" to introduce the idea of Welcoming Guests.
Our theme this year is "Btzelem Elohem". To introduce it I used the book ""I Like Me."

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: I have a question. what do secular books offer that's different from Jewish books when it comes to teaching mitzvot?

Susan Dubin: Secular books are often more readily available.

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: Another question: Do you ever use books that come from a different religious tradition or do you just use books with no overt religious content?

Susan Dubin: Yes. I use books from everywhere. If a book is from another religious point of view I point it out to the students.

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: For the purposes of this conversation, does a book count as Jewish if it has Jewish characters, or do you encounter books with Jewish characters that you would nonetheless count as secular if there was no other Jewish/religious content?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Yes. I consider books of general interest books with no specific Judaic content.

Sheryl Stahl: Do you have any favorite young adult novels?

Steven Bergson: Favorite YA novel that I haven't read yet : The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

Sheryl Stahl: Love the movie! haven't read the book - but what values do you think it illustrates?

Steven Bergson: Can't say until I finish reading it. I've got to go back to it one of these days. It's on my "to read when I have free time" shelf.

Steven Bergson: However, from what I've read about it & from leafing through parts of it, I can tell that the movie condensed it.

Susan Dubin: I love YA books. A recent favorite is Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Sheryl Stahl: Hunger Games was a favorite at my house too - but again - what values do you see?

Association of Jewish Libraries: Marie here: The hour is officially up, but folks can feel free to continue to chat. I'll keep recording the convo as long as I can. Thank you so much to Suzi for being our guest this week & for everyone who participated!

Susan Dubin:Thank you for joining me. I will be checking back throughout the day.

Posted by Marie.
Posted in: Facebook Friday

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