JBI Update, August 2023

JBI's Logo. Capital J. Lowercase b. Lowercase i. The round part of the letter b resembles the shape of an eyeball with a dot in the middle.

Dear Friend, 


I hope you are having a wonderful summer. It’s been a busy time for us at JBI. We’re preparing new materials for the High Holy Days and Festival Holidays, continuing to expand our collection of audio, braille, and large print books and materials, and seeking to create new opportunities to collaborate and serve our patrons.  


Our High Holy Day Gift to You


We know the Chagim still seem very far away, but we encourage you to place your orders now for one of our many High Holy Day prayer books; this year we have added a new Reform Selichot prayer book from CCAR Press.  


It also isn’t too early to let us know if you would like  our 16-month Calendar (Luach) with Jewish holidays, candle lighting and federal holidays in braille, or large print (English or Russian)—if you received it last year, it will  automatically be sent again this year, you only need to let us know if you want to change the format you receive.  


Please CLICK HERE to order our liturgical Holiday materials or calendar.  As a reminder, all our materials are provided free of charge. 


We are also delighted to continue our partnership with PJ Library and have several new High Holiday-related children’s books that we have transcribed into braille and recorded for the entire family to enjoy, including The Shofar Must Go On… by Lina Schwarz about the mitzvah of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.

Featured Audiobooks to Enrich Your High Holy Day Season


High Holiday Sutra by Allan Appel 
In a heartbreaking and hilarious Yom Kippur sermon, Jonah tells a tragicomic Jewish-Buddhist love story that takes on one of the critical religious issues of the 1990s: Can we stay true to tradition and keep our faith relevant to our everyday lives?
This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Alan Lew
Lew, who describes himself as a Zen rabbi, explores the Days of Awe, although he begins with Tisha B'Av and not Rosh Hashanah because he feels that Tisha B'Av sets the tone for religious introspection. He draws on Jewish tradition, personal experiences, and of course Buddhist stories to explain to the reader the importance of introspection and spiritual transformation.
Commanded to Live by Rabbi Harold Kushner
The challenges and joys of contemporary Jewish life are treated in this commentary on holy days and festivals.
Elijah’s Tears: Stories for the Jewish Holidays by Sydelle Pearl
The prophet Elijah is the unifying persona of these five original stories set during four Jewish holidays: Passover, Succot, Hanukkah, and Yom Kippur. Although he is traditionally associated with Passover, Elijah is commanded by God to search for piety and good deeds all through the year. In each selection, he enables those with spiritual needs to find divine inspiration and rewards in their daily lives.
Uninvited Guest: And Other Jewish Holiday Tales by Nina Jaffe
A collection of stories that span the Jewish holiday calendar from Rosh Hashanah to Passover. Based on traditional sources, the stories demonstrate faith and ritual throughout the centuries. Includes a brief historical introduction to each story and a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms.
Shofar that Lost its Voice by David E. Fass
On the afternoon before Rosh Hashanah young Avi races home to practice blowing on the ram's horn for the Service, but no sound comes out.
Bubbe Isabella and the Sukkot Cake by Kelly Terwilliger
One Sukkot, Bubbe Isabella builds a sukkah. Each night she wishes for someone to sit with her and share her freshly baked lemon cake. Just as she is about to disassemble it, a boy asks for her colored cloth to make a flag for the Simchat Torah holiday procession. Bubbe Isabella is happy to finally be able to share her sukkah with someone else. 


New Audiobooks Spotlight

This image is the covers of the books referenced below.

With the help of our intrepid volunteers, we are continuing to record a variety of audiobooks of Jewish interest, including:  


The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani
The tale of a middle-class Jewish youth's obsession with the far more aristocratic Micol Finzi-Contini. An examination of one-sided love and individuals' inability to contend with personal and political annihilation.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
This adventure story has something for everyone: a good guy, some bad guys, a beautiful girl, sword fighting, revenge, romance, of course a happy ending, as well as Rodents Of Unusual Size. 

Not Bad for Delancey Street: The Rise of Billy Rose by Mark Cohen
In 1936, Life Magazine said, "A little man with a Napoleonic penchant for the colossal and magnificent, Billy Rose is the country's no. 1 purveyor of mass entertainment."  This book is the first biography in fifty years of this producer, World's Fair impresario, songwriter, nightclub and theater owner, syndicated columnist, art collector, tough guy, and philanthropist.

The New Girl by Daniel Silva
At an exclusive private school in Switzerland, mystery surrounds the identity of the beautiful raven-haired girl who arrives each morning to attend school.   When she is brutally kidnapped, her infamous father has to turn to the one man he can trust to find her before it is too late.

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Steven Greenblatt
This book explores the enduring story of Adam and Eve, which has served as a mirror in which we seem to glimpse the whole long history of our fears and desires, as both a hymn to human responsibility and a dark fable about human wretchedness.


We are always happy to get requests for audiobooks so send your ideas to our librarians!  And, please go onto our website for updated catalogs of the books we have available in multiple formats and languages.


Please remember, for all of our audiobooks, you must have a Library of Congress’s NLS  DTB reader.  If you do not yet have one, please contact our librarians (see below)  or fill out a form (CLICK HERE) so that we can help you get one for free from NLS.  


Join our Patrons' Council


We are starting a Patrons’ Council on Zoom and we would love your participation and feedback!  Starting this fall, we invite our patrons to join with several of JBI’s staff and board members to explore ways in which we can serve you better, talk about some of our plans, and get your feedback about how JBI can best support your needs. Our first meeting will be on September 18 at 4:00 pm Eastern.  


Please let Arlene or Inna know if you would like to join us by emailing library@jbilibrary.org. You will receive a Zoom link once you register.  


Important Notice

As we mentioned in our May communication, going forward we will only be sending one physical newsletter (braille, large print) each year—it will arrive shortly before the fall holidays.  The newsletter will continue to be sent by email in Russian and English, and we will also post it on our website.   And, check out our website, Facebook – and now Instagram! – pages for more about JBI.

My colleagues and I at JBI wish you and your family a sweet New Year,


Livia Thompson

Executive Director, JBI



Get in touch!

We are committed to serving you, and want to hear from you:

Visit our website—www.jbilibrary.org

Call us at: 212-889-2525 or 800-433-1531 


Livia Thompson, Executive Driector at LThompson@jbilibrary.org 

Librarian, Arlene Arfe at AArfe@jbilibrary.org

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(established in 1931 as the Jewish Braille Institute)
Enabling access to Jewish life through audio, braille and large print texts
110 East 30th Street, New York, NY 10016

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