Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 

“Maurycy Gottlieb – Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur” by Trodel is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This year, 2021, Rosh Hoshana fell on September 7th and 8th and Yom Kippur on the evening of September 15th into 16th

Rosh Hashanah marks the birthday of the world at creation. Traditionally symbolic foods are eaten such as apples and honey as a gesture to ensure a “sweat new year” and other symbolic foods

Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. When the ancient temples stood in Jerusalem, the priests were purified from sins between human beings and G-d, and in the course of history all Jews view this holy day as a time of atonement.  

The readings in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur include: the binding of Isaac and the book of Jonah. 

The binding of Isaac raises the question of Providence (hashgaha pratit) and free will (behira) in the verse, “now I know that you fear G-d”. The liturgy for the days of awe however notes that Jews can change their “fate” via repentance, charity, and prayer. 

The people of Ninevah in the lifetime of the prophet Jonah do repent, which is keeping within the theme of Yom Kippur.  

Touro College Libraries has resources on the Jewish holidays, including readings chanted in synagogues, in library guides parasha shavua and Hagim. Maps and ancient Near Eastern archeological findings for example Ninevah’s excavation. Artists may enjoy from the Jewish arts the aesthetic depiction by Micrography, the Ship of Jonah (1897) and artistic representations of the Akedat Yitchak.  

Resource Links: 

Jonah PowerPoint (for maftir day of Yom Kippur) 

Binding of Isaac PowerPoint (for 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah) 

Yom Kippur and Hannukah video 

Binding of Isaac video  

Parashat ha-shavua (the weekly torah reading) and Hagim (festivals) 

post contributed by David Levy, Chief Librarian, Lander College for Women Library

Rosh Hashanah: Happy New Year!

"Gierymski Feast of trumpets I" by Aleksander Gierymski - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
“Feast of Trumpets” by Aleksander Gierymski, 1884 – Hasidic Jews performing tashlikh on Rosh Hashanah (CC0 image via Wikimedia Commons)

[This post was written in 2014 and has been updated for publication 9/3/21]

Rosh Hashanah is fast approaching–it’s almost time for apples and honey! This sweet treat is one of many customs that symbolize the wish for a sweet new year.

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the autumnal Jewish holidays known as the High Holy Days.  It is a two-day holiday due to the nature of the Jewish calendar, which follows the lunar cycle and is dependent on observation of the new moon. Difficulty determining when the moon actually appeared meant that the Jews of ancient Israel observed both possible days after the end of the previous month. Religious Jews continue this practice today.

The Hebrew term “Rosh Hashanah” translates as “the head of the year” or “the first of the year.” Historically, it is believed that this time period is the anniversary of the creation of the world and of the first man and woman. Rosh Hashanah is a time of both joy and solemnity, as Jews all over the world celebrate the beginning of a new year and stand in judgment for the previous one. No work is permitted during the holiday; the majority of the day is spent in synagogue reciting special prayers.

A shofar (CC BY-SA 2.5 image by Olve Utne)
A shofar (CC BY-SA 2.5 image by Olve Utne)

The most essential and iconic tradition of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar. A shofar is a trumpet made from an animal horn, traditionally a ram’s. Its call sounds like a plaintive cry, meant to awaken the Jewish people to repentance and remind them that G-d is their king.

photo by Igal Ness via unsplash

Symbolic foods are consumed throughout the holiday, representing good things we hope for in the coming year. I have already mentioned apples and honey, sometimes eaten with round loaves of challah bread, symbolizing fullness and completion are used.  A pomegranate is said to contain 613 seeds, the same as the full number of commandments, and according to tradition, it is eaten to symbolize the hope that our “merits increase as the seeds of the pomegranate.” Other symbolic foods include the head of a fish or lamb, dates, and gourds.

One last tradition is saying the prayer of Tashlich on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. This involves turning out our pockets at a body of water, preferably one with fish in it. This is symbolic of casting off our sins and mistakes for the fish to carry away.

Rosh Hashanah / New Year greeting card: A Pansy with a face bears the Hebrew inscription for a happy New Year.
Rosh Hashanah / New Year greeting card: A Pansy with a face bears the Hebrew inscription for a happy New Year. [Center for Jewish History, NYC]

To find out more, the library has many resources, including A companion to the Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur machzor, by A.L. Rubinstein and The High Holy Days: a commentary on the prayerbook of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, by Herman Kieval).

As the traditional greeting goes, “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem.” May we be inscribed and sealed for a good year!

Rosh Hashanah begins this year at sundown, September 6th, and ends sundown, September 8th

Contributed by: Toby Krausz, Judaica Librarian, Midtown

Touro College Libraries Instructional Support Checklist

Photo by Olia Danilevich from Pexels

Do you have readings you’d like to make available to your students online? 

Sharing in Canvas: If you are sharing a journal article or book chapter from outside of the Touro College Libraries databases with your class this semester, you may need to get copyright clearance to include the material in your Canvas course. This applies to electronic and scanned materials. The Libraries are available to assist you with determining whether you need to secure copyright clearance, and, if you do, with requesting permission to share. Please contact Marina Zilberman for more information. 

eBooks and Databases: If you’re looking for easily accessible and low-cost materials for your classes, our eBook collections and electronic databases are a great resource. In Canvas, you can link directly to most books and articles. 
Open Educational Resources: You can use many free resources in your class, including high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks with instructor materials. Tell us which commercial textbook you would like to replace, and we will show you what’s available for your discipline. Contact Kirk Snyder for more about OER. 

Do you want to use documentaries and educational films to support your instruction? 

Streaming videos: For increased convenience and access by students outside of class, the Libraries offer a growing collection of online streaming videos, including Education in Video, Films on Demand, Kanopy and more. Most titles are also discoverable by searching in the library catalog by “Location: TC E-Videos.” 

Are you teaching an online course? 

Ask a Librarian: Students have ready access to assistance with research and library resources via chat, email or phone with our Ask A Librarian service. 
Embedded librarians: This program matches you with a dedicated librarian to provide customized library instruction for your students. Learn more by contacting Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director
Remote orientations: All of our library instruction classes can be held via Zoom video conferences, accessible by students from home, or can be shared as a recorded video for students to watch outside of class time. 

Do your students have trouble finding the kinds of information you want them to use in their papers and projects? 

Instruction: We offer both general library orientations and specialized research classes, customized to prepare students for the particular assignments in your course. Contact your campus library for information or to schedule a session. 
LibGuides: These research guides are organized by subject to bring together the best resources for each topic. Additional guides are available on research skills and library services and we are happy to create one for your course upon request. 

Do your students have trouble with writing and/or citing sources correctly? 

Citing Sources guide: This guide includes presentations, videos, and quizzes to help you discuss academic integrity with your students. Additionally, you’ll find tools to assist with creating citations and detailed information on a variety of citation styles. 
RefWorks: RefWorks is a citation and research manager available to students and faculty with their email address. Import, organize and cite your research with this online tool. Training is available upon request. 
College Writing guide: Our College Writing guide compiles the most helpful resources for composition, revision, and editing in academic writing. 

A New Semester, A New Building, And A New Beginning

Fall Semester 2021 officially kicked off in full swing August 23rd at the School of Health Sciences in Central Islip, housed with the Touro Law School. This new semester brings to students a chance to either continue their excellence or turn over a new leaf and start the path toward excellence that is found in the hallowed halls of Touro.  Speaking of halls, a brand-new building awaits the School of Health Sciences students who were previously housed at the now defunct Bay Shore location.   

Located in the beautiful Central Islip Touro Law Building, students have the opportunity to study in any one of the four floors of the library! This modern library comes equipped with 2 computer labs (on the 3rd floor), many brand-new study rooms (available on each floor and must be reserved up to 24 hours in advance), and the ability to scan (1st and 3rd floor) in more than one location.

Pictures by Kelly Tenny

Found nestled on the second floor is the Health Sciences Library of books, periodicals, DVD’s, and more physical items for students and professors alike; as well as a giant quiet study room. So, enjoy the offerings but please remember, shush! Keep your voices down no matter how exciting the materials.

Come visit your librarians in room L201 on the second floor of the library as well. In our suite we offer not only the reference services and help you have come to love, but many other items. There is, as always, a full room of reserve books which are generally the most in-demand books for your classes. We also have reserve items such as bone boxes (real and plastic), dry erase markers, dry erase erasers, small dry erase boards, and many other items that will assist you in your studies. (*Please Note: Reserve books and items can only be taken out for 3 hours and cannot leave the building*)

We, the librarians of the School of Health Sciences, look forward to kick starting the new semester at the new location with all our students. Stop by and say hello at L201!

post contributed by Annette Carr- Chief Librarian, Heather Hilton- Librarian, Elisheva Berenstein- Librarian, Theresa (Terry) Zahor- Librarian, and Kelly Tenny- Library Assistant. 

Library Staff Profile: Elisheva Berenstein

Elisheva Berenstein, Librarian, School of Health Sciences

Where were you born?

I was born in Brooklyn, New York and actually attended Touro College in the mid 1990s. 

Where else have you lived?  

I have lived in Rochester, New York for over 25 years and have just moved back to the Far Rockaway area.  

What languages do you speak?

While I am a native English speaker, I am proficient in Hebrew and can speak, read and write in it.  

What fields have you studied and/or degrees have you earned?

I have an MLS in Library Science from State University of New York at Buffalo as well as NYS Teacher Certification in Library. I have a BS in Business Management from SUNY Empire State College. I am a certified Medical Transcriptionist as well. I have taught in the classroom, to grades ranging from kindergarten to college.  

What is the part of your job that you enjoy the most?  

Teaching students the research and information literacy skills that will help them be successful. Nowadays, you always need to figure things out. Once a student knows how to find the relevant information, there is no limit to how far they can go!  

What do you think will be the most challenging part of your job?  

Marketing and outreach! Having students realize what a great help libraries and librarians can be in helping them excel in their studies. From learning to how to find relevant information to citing research correctly, librarians and library are treasured resources that need good PR.  

Your ideal vacation?

Taking my family touring in Europe (England, France & Italy) for a week and then going to Israel and living like a native in Jerusalem.  

Any hobbies? 

I like to dabble in many things, so I am concurrently working on a diamond art painting of an elephant and a paint by number of the Western Wall. I also like to keep my freezer well stocked with desserts, so I bake weekly. My favorite thing to make is lemon biscotti and grape sorbet.  

Favorite food? 

Anything with chocolate 😊 

Tell us one thing about yourself that most of us probably don’t know.  

I can juggle! I currently juggle with balls and am working on juggling with pins.  

Image credits: portrait courtesy of the author. Librarian avatar by Bitmoji.

Contributed by Elisheva Berenstein, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences

Open Pedagogy: What is it and how can we use it more effectively for teaching and learning?

Image by Giulia Forsythe licensed under CC0 

Open Pedagogy is not new. Open Education was popular in the 60s and 70s—though maybe in a slightly different context. But because of the more recent Open Pedagogy movement, and specifically because of the Open Education Resources (OER) movement, Open Pedagogy has re-emerged and become a tool to improve teaching and learning. Numerous interpretations of Open Pedagogy exist but before we delve any deeper into Open Pedagogy, we first need to quickly review the definition of Open Educational Resources (OER), as the two of them are intricately connected to each other.   

Simply put, OER are free to access; free to reuse; free to revise; free to remix and free to redistribute. These are the 5Rs that are essential to keep in mind when we talk about Open Pedagogy.   

Graphic by Kirk Snyder, OER librarian at Touro Libraries, licensed under a (CC BY-SA 4.0) creative commons license. 

Open Pedagogy (Open Ped): 

An expert in Open Ped, Robin DeRosa (2018) defines it as an instructional approach that engages students in using, reusing, revising, remixing, and redistributing open content. Based on the definition of Open Educational Resources above, we now understand that by open content she means openly licensed material which due to their 5 rights can be easily and freely incorporated into teaching and learning.  

***Note that there is a lot of material on the internet that are free to watch, listen to, and read, but they are not necessarily free in the sense that one can use and reuse them without copyright permission.

Open Educational Resources and Open Ped pioneers, Wiley and Hilton (2018), define Open Ped as “the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions which is when you are using OER”. In other words, Open Ped is teaching and learning through OER or simply put, an “OER-enabled pedagogy”.  

The Renewable Assignment:

On his blog, called, “improving learning” David Wiley talks about killing the disposable assignment. Those assignments that both students and faculty complain about, those that in his words, “add no real value to the world—after a student spends three hours creating it, a teacher spends 30 minutes grading it, and then the student throws it away.” 

Wiley instead recommends creating renewable assignments. These are assignments that would be impossible without the 5 permissions granted by open licenses, but they will provide students opportunities to spend their efforts on valuable projects beyond the classroom. To give you an idea, here are a few examples of non-disposable assignments.  

  • Create or edit Wikipedia articles 
  • Create or co-create assignments/exam questions/test banks 
  • Create or modify syllabus/learning outcomes/grading policies/ rubrics
  • Open Syllabi—students become responsible for filling out the syllabus 
  • Translations  
  • Write blog posts (WordPress)  
  • Post social media (Twitter) 
  • Create podcasts (Final Examination–UMass) 
  • Create & Post social annotations  (with Hypothesis)   
  • Real world case studies—solve community or social problems, such as racism, health disparity, diversity 
  • Open Peer-review  
  • Creating, publishing & sharing Zines  
  • “How to videos/tutorials” in any medium using OER—(e.g.) students explaining difficult course topics to other students 
  • Create an anthology using public domain literary text (include marginalized authors & plurality of voices) 
  • Student-designed renewable websites: 

For this last example, an instructor said that instead of student posters piling up in the garbage can at the end of each semester, she asked students to pick a topic and then create a website by using Google Sites which is free through their school (from NEHB webinar on Open Pedagogy, April 12, 21).  The content that student created might not be perfect, she added, but many times the projects roll over to the students of the following semester and they continue until the project gets perfect.  

Moreover, students learn to use an open technology platform, such as Google Sites. There are also WordPress, Twitter, YouTube, flickr, and Wikipedia to name a few other public platforms used for Open Ped assignments. Not only do students learn about creating, using, and remixing OER in Open Ped assignments, they also learn, among other things, about contributing their collaboratively produced knowledge publicly through these platforms. Which in turn makes them to learn about how such platforms work and how information gets distributed.  

And while teaching in a collaborative, contributive, and student-centered method sounds authentic, liberating, and innovative; educators must note that teaching through Open Ped carries a few risks as follows: 

Students are the copyright holders of their projects, so they need to know about different licensing options, and how they can license their own work, if interested in sharing. Also, educators need to make sure to give students the option to opt in or out if they do not feel comfortable with sharing their projects publicly. As such, privacy issues can be a concern and some experts in Open Ped recommend FERPA waivers to avoid any data privacy infringements. Additionally, taking out individual students’ names and instead using a group name that can be shared by the team is also recommended since online bullying can become an issue as well.   

In the end, though many of us librarians are not teaching complete courses, Open Ped can be a great way to teach information literacy and critical thinking. Librarians can get involved with OER and Open Ped by clarifying intellectual property, licensing, and copyright issues just as they can talk about evaluating diverse information that vary in creation and dissemination.  

So, if this short piece intrigued you to take advantage of OER and Open Ped assignments and ideas, or if you just want to learn more about it, please check out the library’s LibGuide on Open Pedagogy. Or simply contact me at  


This post was contributed by Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director.

Art To The Rescue

Guest post contributed by Dr. Shoshanah Findling, Graduate School of Education. 

Artist: Julia Rand, “Untitled”, Oil.

Building off the success of our school-wide faculty art show called “Art After Dark”, I saw the need to keep the momentum going. But how do you do that during a worldwide pandemic? We had to get creative (pun fully intended) regarding how to keep art alive. Although we could not gather in person to curate or gather for a live artist reception, it did not mean that people didn’t want to. We were determined to try.  

Covid-19 had us scrambling for ways to engage our students. As a self-trained artist, I know that artists have a need for solitude and reflection to make uncover the meaning that will translate into their art. But we also crave social interactions with fellow creative souls for validation and inspiration. Artists will seek a tribe where they can discuss themes, mediums, techniques and “play off each other”. When I need a spark of inspiration, I can turn to my art league for all this.  During the pandemic they could not have live meetings. They made use of Zoom and PowerPoint presentations to have virtual shows. Here at Touro, we were doing this for our courses. I knew I could make this work. What did I have to lose?   

I always say “when you make a wish, the universe will conspire to help you”. I made a passing comment to a colleague about the need to deal with all the uncertainty surrounding Covid with a new art show. Annecy Baez, of the Graduate School of Social Work suggested an Art Museum Gallery template she used to enter a different show. All I had to do was keep the format and give credit to the designer.  I also had an amazing group of school counseling students in the Graduate School of Education that semester who enjoyed art as a hobby. They wanted to participate and even offered to co-curate with me. Samantha Marinello, who holds a Masters degree in Art Therapy and attends the School Counseling program was a tremendous help.  I also have to thank Inna Smirnova for her help promoting the two shows on Touro’s website. She discovered an unusual virtual gallery called Artsteps and designed another 3-D virtual art show with the images I sent her.   

The first faculty-student virtual art show was held from November, 2020-January, 2021. The show was called Covid Creations: The Art of Uncertainty. We also held a virtual workshop to design Mandalas on glass bottles. In spring of 2021, flowers were not the only things to come out of dark. In some ways we all bunkered down into our own cocoons. When the Covid vaccine was approved for emergency use, we too could have a sense of hope and renewal.  Looking for signs of change and hope inspired me to create a second virtual show.  There is still time to see the second virtual art show which is titled “Hope Blooms”.  When we reopen in September (with the Lord’s help) we will complete our indoor Garden of Hope as a green reminder of our shared experiences during the pandemic.    

Everyone has their own coping mechanism. Mine has always been art. It is a way to make sense of what is happening to me and all around me. It can form community, draw people to a cause or bring their innermost dreams to life. Art has the power to transform lines, shapes, colors and patterns which adds beauty into the world.  

Artist: Annecy Baez, “Grief”, Digital Collage. 
Artist: Samantha Marinello, “Saying Good-Bye”, Acrylic. 
image: Hope Blooms exhibition announcement

The virtual art show, Hope Blooms, can be viewed here through 8/10/21.

-post contributed by Dr. Shoshanah Findling, Graduate School of Education 

Textbook Heroes: Neil Normand

Welcome to our series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by contacting the Libraries.

image: Neil Normand (provided)

Neil Normand is Lecturer and Lab Director at Touro’s Lander College for Women. He is also a Fellow in our Health Sciences and Allied Health Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Fellowship 2020-2021. 

[refresher: Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are free to all users. They reside in the public domain, or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.] 

The Touro College OER Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by Touro College Libraries and funded by a grant from the Network of the National Library of Medicine Middle Atlantic Region, supports faculty in the health sciences and allied health fields in developing Open Educational Resources for their undergraduate and graduate students. The fellowship was awarded to five Touro Faculty members to support adopting, or creating OER for use in their courses. 

Neil’s fellowship project, the Lander College for Women Microbiome Project, takes the form of a collection of OER modules (textbook chapters, articles, videos, etc.), adopted from several sources, and hosted in Canvas. It was created for his Principles of Biology I course and lab. With this course taken by roughly 600 students a year, Neil’s fellowship project has the potential to save Touro students around $70,000 a year in textbook costs!  

Here, Neil answers a few questions about his OER fellowship project: 

Why were you interested in OER in the first place?  

There is a wealth of helpful information in the form of Open Educational Resources. In the recent shift to remote-based learning, I feel that is important to take advantage of the online resources that are available.  

How was your experience finding tools and resources for OER?  

It was pleasantly surprising finding many online resources with OER. Through TouroOne, the online Library resources were very helpful. Several different OER Biology textbooks were available as well as OER course material. The OER library staff was extremely helpful in helping myself and the other fellows. We met regularly and we were made aware of different resources. 

What were your goals? Did you achieve the goals you had set out for your project?  

My goal was to create an online resource for students to access information on the Human Microbiome project. Thanks in large part to the Touro Libraries OER resources I was able to achieve that. 

Can you give us a description of your OER fellowship project? 

My project was to develop an online resource to learn about the Microbiome, loosely defined as microorganisms, such as bacteria, that are found throughout the human body. It plays an important role in our understanding of our interactions with microorganisms and can help better understand which microorganisms are associated with clinical conditions and can help to improve the overall state of human health. I have used OER to first provide some background information on microorganisms in general. Also, the term Biome is an Ecology term that describes the interactions with organisms on a particular habitat, so I have provided some background information on that as well.   

The idea of the microbiome is the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, which is the habitat so to speak, in an ecological sense. There is a lot of Microbiome information provided. Some in the form of informative video content, some in the form of an open online course at MIT and links to papers and online books and other important websites that inform a lot about the microbiome. Finally, since this is intended to be a resource for Lander College for Women, a Womens Jewish College, there is also information about the impact of the human microbiome on women’s health, as well as information regarding a parallel concept in Jewish Philosophy, that a human being is a microcosm of a world. 

Thanks, Neil!

see our other Textbook Heroes posts   

-post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian 


2020-2021 Library Statistics are in!

As we close out another academic year (this one like no other) we take a look back at the library services we delivered to the Touro community.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, almost nothing was normal about this year. The Fall semester began in the thick of the pandemic, with much, but not all, of our work shifting to remote service as Touro transitioned most classes to online learning. Some of us remained working in our libraries, in-person, throughout the year, some worked remotely the whole year, and some did a combination of both. We had to learn new skills, new technologies, and adjust our workflows for just about everything we did. Yet, Touro Librarians and Library Staff found new ways to connect with our students and faculty and continued to provide the same great library services that we always have, pandemic or no pandemic.

As we had relatively few students and faculty on our campuses this year, most of our reference service moved to being remote. We had the most reference activity via email and phone, with our Chat and Ask-a-Librarian services fielding a steady stream of inquiries as well.

Our librarians regularly teach classes on research methods, and this year was no exception, only that all of these classes were shifted online and carried out via zoom. Through the year, we taught 136 classes over zoom, and had 2131 students attend our library classes. Our asynchronous educational efforts were successful as well, with 408 students and faculty using our many libguides this year. Our librarians and library staff also continued to educate ourselves, attending webinars throughout the year, with a combined total attendance of 544.

Let’s take a look at all the numbers!

We are still hard at work over the summer and are looking forward to what the next academic year will bring, with the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

Until then, see you in the library (call first to verify hours) and online!

post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian.

Student Research Fellowship Grant Program- Summer ’21

screenshot from the Student Research Fellowship Grant Program webpage

Attention all students and professors!

Are you interested in receiving support to conduct your own research project this summer that will hone your academic skills and enhance your career prospects?

Touro has announced a grant program for student-led summer research projects across the Touro College & University System. The competition is open to all students (from our Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional Schools) at the four major campuses, Touro College, Touro University California, Touro University Nevada, and New York Medical College. Accepted applicants will receive a stipend to support their work. Projects are student-initiated and completed under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Find all the details on the grant, and apply (before July 9th) here:

Get help from the library

If you have questions about the research process, finding and evaluating sources, citation, or practically anything else during the course of your research, the Library has you covered! Our librarians are available for one-on-one assistance via our Ask a Librarian service. You can chat with us, call us, email us, or tweet us. Need help beyond a quick question? Schedule a (remote) research consultation with us!

And be sure to check out our libguides on:

post contributed by Kirk Snyder, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian.