Librarian's Lobby

by Daniel D. Stuhlman

February 1999

Jewish Music Exhibit "Songs of Our People"

The long promised Jewish music exhibit, "Songs of Our People" is finally ready. The exhibit features books and records with examples of four kinds of Jewish music : Israeli, Hasidic, Yiddish, and hazanut. Tape recordings from Hazzanim Moshe Koussevitsky and Josef Rosenblatt may be heard as part of the exhibit. Many of the records are from a recent gift from the Shisler Family.

The exhibit is in the display cases in the Library reading room and is open whenever the Library is open.

New History Project

A few weeks ago the Library received a call from a professor of history doing research on the Jewish community in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was preparing a local history on the occasion of the congregation's 100th anniversary. He had information from local records, but was missing information on the rabbi who severed in 1912. He had already checked the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati. They had information on many of the later rabbis, but the rabbi from 1912 was not in their records. The professor knew the name of the rabbi and dates of service, but nothing about his background. Since the rabbi was orthodox, he asked if we had any information. The name was not in any reference book and we have no archival materials on rabbis.

This question brought to mind a query from a CRC rabbi working on a problem with a get. The CRC rabbi wanted to know where the rabbi who married the couple received his semicha. We found a reference to the rabbi in question in a reference book. While the source did not list the institutions where he learned, it did list the rabbinic organization the rabbi belonged to. This was enough of a clue for the CRC rabbi.

After talking to several people, we came up with an idea to gather and save information about rabbis. This will be a joint project between the Saul Silber Library, the Chicago Jewish Archives (part of Spertus Institute's Asher Library), the CRC and possibly other organizations. At this time we are working out the details. The two libraries will keep copies of curriculum vitae, resumes, and other bibliographic information that the rabbis may submit. The documents will be cataloged using our library management system. The documents will not be changed or edited by the libraries.

This is a project to save history. Some time in the future when researchers want to know about the rabbi who married their grandparents, or the rabbi of a shul from an earlier era, we will have records.

The documents will minimally contain the rabbi's names, city of residence, educational background, and congregations or organizations served. This project will probably be limited to rabbis who are members of a professional rabbinic organization. If the rabbi claims membership, we will include the documents. Privacy will be respected. If the rabbi does not want information shared, then we will restrict access to the file for the time limit requested. After a pilot project we may ask the community to submit documents for deceased and retired rabbis. We seek input from you as to what you think should be preserved and what you are willing to share.

Articles by HTC Faculty

The December 1998 issue of Jewish Observer had two articles by HTC faculty members. Rabbi Ben-Zion Rand wrote on Rabbi Mordecai Rogow and Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer wrote about Chumras.

Rabbi Rand is the editor of Likutei Peshatim and the haggadah Tiferet Asher (published last year). Rabbi Rogow was born in the city of Lipnishok, Lithuania. He studied in yeshivot in Radin and Mirrer. During the war he was the posek for the refugee community in Shanghai. Rabbi Rogow arrived in Chicago in 1946 and became the Rosh HaYeshiva of Bet HaMidrash LaTorah succeeding Rabbi Chaim Korb.

Rabbi Rand spent many hours interviewing Rabbi Rogow's son and several of his former students for this article. He frequently quotes Rabbi Rogow's book of Torah commentaries, Ateret Mordecai, in Likutei Peshatim. Rabbi Rand is working on an English translation of Ateret Mordecai that will introduce another generation to the teachings of Rabbi Rogow.

Rabbi Bechhofer, has many titles at HTC. He is in charge of the Community Service Division, Frumie Noble Kollel, and is an expert in the Talmud Yerushalmi. His drashot are available on the Internet. ( and on tape from the Brandman Tape Library.

In his article, "Good Chumros? : the big question," Rabbi Bechhofer analyzes what is a chumra and classifies them into four broad categories, 1) Based on halachic issues; 2) Based on ahavat Hashem; 3) Based on yirat Hashem; 4) Based on separation from the pursuit of material and physical pleasures. Rabbi Bechhofer recognized that some chumras may be based on sociological issues. Some people may be machmir for some of the "right" motivations and some to enhance one's avodat Hashem.

Mary Heisler, 1903-1999

My grandmother, Mary Heisler, of St. Louis, MO passed away on February 11. Not only did our family lose a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, but the whole community lost a beloved matriarch. At her funeral I gave a speech that so many people appreciated, they asked me for copies of it. I would like to share part of the speech.

Important lessons that I learned from Grandma.

1. Treat people fairly. While in business, she created a partnership with her customers. She wasn't only selling them what they wanted; she helped them buy what they needed. She charged fair prices for the service offered.

2. Be a member of the Jewish community and help others. Everyone has something that they can share with others. No matter how small the help offered, one feels the biggest when you are able to share. As a community volunteer she helped the shuls other organizations that she belonged to. She was an example to others. In her later years just being in shul was an inspiration to the younger members. She was very friendly and introduced herself to new people and helped them meet some of the regulars. She was so beloved in the community that everyone wanted her to attend their simha.

3. Family is important. At our family reunion in 1997 she was the oldest surviving member. She spoke about being happy and proud to have so many family members around her. Grandma always made holidays and family celebrations special. She always had something nice to say.

She remembered everyone's birthday and anniversary. She never forgot to acknowledge the occasion. She always wrote in her letters words such as, "Please dear God let everything go real good for the [fill in the appropriate time of year]"

4. Be happy. Many people get depressed when something bad or difficult happens. Grandma always saw the bright side of life. Even when times were difficult or when one of her close friends or relatives died, she had a positive attitude. "It was God's will."

5. How to cut keys. You may ask why are keys important? Often I went to her store to help. When we were small, my mother would sometimes drop us at the store so that Grandma could baby sit for us. Very early in life she gave us an example of how to run a store. She taught us about the business. She taught us how to help customers. Her method of teaching was, go ahead you can do it. She allowed us to learn from our mistakes. If the key was not cut right the first time, we had to fix it. In other words, correct mistakes, don't complain about them.

6. Carry your weight. When we offered to do things for her, she was always reluctant. Whenever I gave her a ride, she always offered to "pay for gas." I had mixed feelings accepting money from her.

7. Learning is important. She encouraged us to always learn.

She was always wishing and praying for our health and happiness. She had great pleasure in all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On Sept. 16, 1992 she wrote, "What does a grandma really want but to see nahas from all her grandchildren?"

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. We are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit our web site to learn more about knowledge management and what our firm can do for you. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at:

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 ©2003 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised July 7, 2003