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Mollie L. Berch Library

The Mollie L. Berch library plays a major role in our synagogue’s efforts to enhance understanding of Jewish beliefs and holiday celebrations, provide information for life cycle events and practices, increase spirituality, promote lifelong reading and learning about Judaism, and provide access to sacred texts in English and Hebrew. Our library serves our congregants, their children, school faculty, clergy and staff. 

Do you love books and libraries? 
Do you want to help maintain TI’s library so that TI’ers can continue to enjoy this treasure house of knowledge?

If so, contact TI President
Sara Goldberg if you’d like to take over running the library, or just to volunteer to help. 

We have upwards of 7,000 volumes, with strong emphasis on:

• Children’s books
• Women’s studies
• Biographies and memoirs
• Bible commentary
• Fiction, including Israeli novels and short stories, in English
• The Holocaust
• World History
• American History

We also have a number of more narrow collections in the following areas:

• Meditation, Mysticism, Kabbalah
• Lifecycle
• Mysteries
• Yiddish works in translation
• Sports
• Jewish art
• Poetry
• Cookbooks

Unlike some large synagogue libraries that are locked, the Library is open all the time and any member of TI may check out a book including on Shabbat. Most of our holdings can be found in the TI Library Catalog. Take a look by clicking here!

Thank you to the previous TI librarian, Michele Sumka!

Michele Sumka ran TI’s Mollie L. Berch Library for more than a decade. The library, a remarkable resource for a synagogue the size of TI, is the legacy of the eponymous Mollie L. Berch herself, who started and built it, and ran it for many years. A year before her death in 2011 Mollie asked Michele to help her in the library. Lacking experience but loving both reading and Mollie, Michele agreed. That soon turned into taking the reins herself, with the assistance of a committee. Michele has tried to run the library in a manner that honors Mollie’s vision and priorities.

At points in the past the library has had some paid assistants but the budget for that is gone, and Michele has done the work together with other volunteers. For the past several years she has been helped most by Diana Zurer. The library has an acquisition budget funded by contributions, often made in someone’s honor. Because the books have reached the limit of the space, difficult but important deaccession decisions are necessary. Worn out and less used books must be cleared to make space for new ones.

Michele enjoyed the challenge of organizing the collection, rearranging the books for maximum accessibility and ease of browsing. Many congregants are unaware that the library catalog is accessible on the synagogue website. One of the librarian’s jobs is to keep it updated. 

A good library doesn’t just happen. Thank you, Michele, for your service to TI.

Abbreviate from the article by Jared Garelick, May 2022 Menorah

Wed, August 17 2022 20 Av 5782