I’ve been reading Deborah Brandt’s “The Sponsors of Literacy,” and wonder now about my own sponsors of Jewish literacy. I think the library at my Hebrew school, Congregation B’nai Israel, in Kearny, New Jersey was responsible for my love of Jewish history. They had a book about Jewish women that must have had some impact, because when I saw it on a bookseller’s table a few years ago at the Center for Jewish History, I bought it. It was at this library I came to know and love Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family.
I don’t recall anyone recommending I read Elie Wiesel or Isaac Bashevis Singer, but I suppose my father was a sponsor since he would take us on Saturday night to Korvette’s in West Orange to the books and records department. I always wanted the Bobbsey Twins to be Jewish.
Please think about your own sponsors of Jewish literacy and comment below. Think about your parents, siblings, teachers, supervisors, friends. Think about home and school. Think about how your Jewish literacy may have changed over the years. To help you, here are some questions:
- What was the first Jewish book you remember reading? Did anyone suggest it or read it to you? Where did this experience take place?
- What Jewish book or author holds the most meaning for you? Why?
- What places do you associate with your own Jewish literacy?
- Who were your sponsors, who introduced you to Jewish writing and reading? At what stages of your life did this take place.
- Do you know Hebrew or Yiddish? How and where did you learn? Do you use these languages today? How?
To read Brandt’s article, click here.