My Syn­a­gogue Scrapbook

Hara E. Per­son; Faye Tillis Lewy z”l; Dahlia Schoen­berg-Lam, illus.
  • Review
By – April 2, 2012

Like a real scrap­book, this vol­ume is stuffed with pho­tographs and cap­tions. The pho­tos vary wide­ly in qual­i­ty from ama­teur snap­shots to pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­phy. Syn­a­gogues and con­gre­gants from across Amer­i­ca (and a few from oth­er coun­tries) are shown dur­ing prayer, study, and cel­e­bra­tion. Top­ics cov­ered include the func­tions of syn­a­gogues, rit­u­al objects, who we see in syn­a­gogue (notably absent are librar­i­ans!), what peo­ple do, wear, and eat there, and even some of the greet­ings that are used on spe­cial days such as Shana Tova, Chag Sameach, etc. Each sec­tion asks read­ers to add their own thoughts or draw­ings. Although most­ly white Jews pop­u­late the pho­tos, goofy mul­ti-eth­nic Jew­ish car­toon chil­dren dec­o­rate the pages to pro­vide a touch of inclusiveness. 

Over­sim­pli­fied text and wide-open ques­tions make this a book that will be most use­ful with guid­ance from an adult. The work­book- like design and many blanks to fill in make it a poor choice for libraries, but it may be use­ful in reli­gious school class­rooms or in the homes of active con­gre­gants. The dress style of the peo­ple in the pho­tographs makes the book most appro­pri­ate in non- Ortho­dox set­tings. For ages 4 – 8.

Hei­di Estrin is librar­i­an for the Feld­man Chil­dren’s Library at Con­gre­ga­tion B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL. She is a past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries.

Discussion Questions