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

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 

Increase, Track, and Diversify Your Reading in 2021

With a new year comes new reading goals! Do you set a specific number of books that you’d like to read before the year is up? Are you hoping to increase your number of books read? Do you have trouble accessing books easily? Are you looking to stray from your typical genres, discover new authors, and diversify your reading in 2021?

If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” here are some ideas to help you do all of that and more!

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com
Ways To Read More
Make It A Habit

Habits are routine behaviors that are performed almost involuntarily. If you make reading a regular practice, whether that be a chapter before you go to sleep at night, reading during your lunch break or listening to an audiobook whenever you’re doing tasks like driving, cleaning or cooking, soon it will turn into a habit that comes naturally.

Always Have A Book On You

One of the best ways to read more is to make sure that you always have a book with you. Lugging around physical books can get heavy and bothersome, but nowadays many of us have access to reading material right at our fingertips through our smartphones. From Audible or Libby, to the Kindle or NOOK apps, there are so many convenient ways to access books any time, any place.

Take Advantage Of Resources

Buying books can get expensive, but you don’t have to spend money on books to enjoy them! Give your wallet a break and instead utilize the many resources available to you. Make use of your library card privileges; download Libby, where you can read eBooks and listen to audiobooks from your public library, and search the Touro College Libraries catalog for academic eBooks.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
Ways To Track Your Reading
Track & Connect Online

Take your tracking to the internet! Goodreads is a social cataloging website and app that provides readers with a place to review books, list books they have read and want to read, and interact with a community of fellow bookworms all over the world. It is free to make an account.

Start A Book Journal

In lieu of, or in addition to, tracking your reading online, a book journal is a fun way to log and personalize your reading experience. Record memorable quotes, jot down your thoughts and interpretations, and note important plot points or facts. Then, get creative and format everything in whatever way you see fit.

Keep A Simple List

Lists are perfect for not only tracking what you have read, but what you want to read as well. You can keep a physical list, or opt for a note-taking app like Apple Notes, Google Keep, or Microsoft OneNote.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com
Ways To Diversify Your Reading
Follow Reading Prompts

Are there certain genres you don’t read enough? Do you need help narrowing down your next read? Try following reading prompts! There are so many reading challenges out there that you can search for online, or you can create your own reading prompts and challenge yourself to read books that fall under those categories. Completing a reading challenge will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, it will also aid you in diversifying your reading choices.

Join A Subscription Service

Book subscription services are a great way to discover new books. Best of all, they’re conveniently delivered right to your door! Plus, there are so many different types of subscription services to choose from. Book of the Month is a paid service that gives subscribers a choice from five new releases from varying genres each month and provides subscribers with the opportunity to switch up their genres each month and discover new releases. Book subscription services like BlackLIT, CoachCrate, Coffee and a Classic, and The Wordy Traveler curate books to a specific genre, topic, or perspective. With these more focused services, you can pick something that perhaps isn’t so familiar to you and branch out that way!

Look Past The Big Prizes

When you think about major book awards, both the Nobel and the Pulitzer Prizes might come to mind, but there are many other book awards that celebrate different types of books and authors. Examples of alternative awards are: the Edgar Awards which celebrates mystery books; the Women’s Prize for Fiction which honors women writers; the Hugo Awards that celebrate science fiction and fantasy; the PEN Open Book Award that honors books published by authors of color; the Bram Stoker Award that celebrates the horror genre; the Lambda Literary Awards which celebrate LGBTQ books; and the Morris Award which honors young adult debut books.

This post was contributed by Kelly Tenny, Library Assistant, Bay Shore

Write On: Journaling During a Pandemic

What were you doing the summer you turned 13?

I was on an American President Lines cruiseship, on a 26-day trip from Manila, Philippines (where I lived from 1966-1969) back to the United States, with stopovers in Japan and Hong Kong. I remember the ship had a swimming pool, and more than one restaurant, and a lot of kids around my age. I remember that I foolishly hung my three-quarters size guitar on the wall of my stateroom, where it got cracked on the voyage.

And I remember buying my first journal at an immense toy store in Hong Kong, beginning a lifelong habit of recording my thoughts and feelings and saving my memories of people I’d met, places I’d visited, events I’d witnessed, and experiences I’d had on my travels. My mom, a’h, suggested I buy the journal, as I was already a seasoned, intercontinental traveler, experiencing different cultures all over the world. Keeping a journal has become a cherished practice.

a person journaling
Image by free stock photos from www.picjumbo.com from Pixabay

Since we’re all living through a unique period in time, during this coronavirus pandemic, I thought I’d encourage each of you to take up journaling. Think of the stories you will have to tell your children and grandchildren! There are many ways to keep a journal, and I’ll share some ideas with you here.

Selecting a Journal

Yes, in my opinion, journaling involves writing with a pen—or sketching with a pen or pencil—on paper. What you write online requires electricity to access, and it may not be available to share the way your analog journal entries will be (although I do admit I sometimes print out letters I’ve typed and insert those loose pages into my handwritten journal). I promise you the experience will be well worth it! So, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose a journal.

fountain pen on paper
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

That first journal I bought in 1969 had a soft fabric cover in pastel plaid. The fabric cover stained easily, and I outgrew my fondness for plaids and pastels. My next journal had a plastic cover. That was even worse: it got hot and sticky. Now, I use a journal with a cover that has a pleasant feel and moves smoothly over a desk, table, or lap. My journals are always easy to carry with me, with a flexible binding, good quality paper that takes fountain-pen ink, and built-in pockets for ticket stubs or other small mementos. Some people use plain school notebooks, but I like the Moleskin Classic, lined, soft cover journals (they make unlined versions for those inclined to augment their words with pictures).

This year, I tried using an environmentally-friendly, stone paper journal. I love the idea of it, and the paper takes fountain pen ink beautifully, but it’s too heavy to lug around and has a fabric cover.

Once you’ve gone through the process of choosing a journal type, start writing!

Tips for Novice Journal Writers:

  • Keep your journal with you, so you’re ready to write or sketch at any time
  • Keep the first page blank; start writing on the second page (trust me on this)
  • Date every entry (day, month, year): you think you’ll remember later, but you won’t
  • Don’t edit your writing or feel you have to write beautifully, just jot down your thoughts
  • Write a little or a lot—it’s up to you
  • Write when you want to and don’t feel obligated to write every day (it’s not a chore)
  • If you have a hard time starting to write, just make a bullet list of the day’s events
  • Write lists of your favorite things, like books, quotes, films, or recipes
  • Although you don’t have to write everyday, try to make writing part of your routine as your get ready in the morning or wind down at night

You’re living through extraordinary times, on a personal and communal level. Consider sharing with your journal what you share in conversation with your friends and families—or the thoughts you’re thinking but not expressing.

Your journals are just for you. Don’t feel you have to make a compete record of your experiences, with photos, or pressed flowers, or theater tickets. Some days you might feel like scrapbooking; other days, you may want to use the bullet-point method of jotting down your day’s activities to use to jog your memory later. Your journal writing doesn’t have to be perfect, grammatically correct, or demonstrate your calligraphic handwriting skills.

Keeping a journal helps you articulate your thoughts and feelings and can be a therapeutic “safe space” to record your emotions, preserve your memories, and reflect honestly on how your life experiences are aligning with your life goals. The act of writing is a useful technique for self-awareness and personal growth. It’s true: sometimes you discover what you’re thinking or feeling as you write!

blank journal with flowers
Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

For inspiration, explore these diaries from famous authors and regular people, which can be found in the TCL catalog or for free online:

Happy reading—and journaling!

This post was contributed by Aviva Adler, Librarian, Touro College Israel

Finding Solace at an Animal Sanctuary

For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to animals, from gushing over the stray cats that my father used to bring home like some sort of Pied Piper, to having the distinct memory of rushing across the road as a teen to assist a jaywalking turtle. When, in 2014, I was presented with the opportunity to work directly with animals (many of which most people never get the chance to work with), I immediately accepted.

On my very first day volunteering, I was tasked with mucking up after a pair of alpacas, feeding over a dozen chickens, and brushing a big bovine beauty named Annabelle. While it was hard, physical work, it was also heavenly. I was completely in my element, surrounded by over fifty animals of all different shapes, sizes, and species, and learning as much as I could about them. Continue reading

Math Adds Up To Sewing Success

I was never good at art. Throughout school, I was a disaster at drawing and a mess at painting. Art classes did little more than fill me with a sense of incompetence. Always told that I was more of a spatial and abstract thinker, I stuck to what I was good at: math and science.

I was in high school when I began to play around with my mom’s sewing machine just for fun. I made some interesting and awful clothes — I was not good at art, right?

It was a math teacher who changed my mind about my ability to sew. He asked me how geometry helped me figure out how to put pattern pieces together. Sewing, he told me, is nothing more than geometry. It requires measuring, numbers, cutting shapes of fabric, and putting them together like a puzzle. A lightbulb went off in my head: sewing is the math geek’s answer to artistic endeavors and creative outlets. I was hooked.

During the current coronavirus lockdown, I decided to spend some time catching up on patterns and fabrics I had accumulated over the years to make some clothes and share with our Touro community. Here is the dress I will try out:

dress pattern
McCall’s 7627 pattern (Figure 1)

Here it goes!

I started by measuring and calculating my pattern size. After, I cut out pattern shapes from the fabric (Figures 2 and 3).

cutting out the fabric
Figure 2

cutting fabric out
Figure 3

After all the pieces of fabric are cut out, then comes the instructions on how to assemble them (Figure 4).

sewing machine next to cut fabric
Figure 4

The instructions call for constructing the top first by sewing the bodice together with darts, pleats, and facing to add design features (Figure 5).

beginning to sew
Figure 5

The top of the garment is put together, minus the sleeves; they are added later (Figure 6).

after the first sew
Figure 6

Next, I started work on the skirt section. Ironing is unfortunately required to get a perfect seam (Figure 7).

ironing the skirt section
Figure 7

Like putting a puzzle together, the skirt was in four sections that needed to be sewn together (Figure 8).

Figure 8
Figure 8

Adding darts and pleats to skirt section to add figure enhancement (Figure 9).

adding pleats and darts
Figure 9

The bottom and the top are complete. Now to attach them to each other (Figure 10).

sewing the top and the bottom to each other
Figure 10

The top and the bottom are matched up and sewn together. Final finishes are made to the garment by hemming rough edges and cutting loose strings (Figure 11).

the dress after making final touches
Figure 11

The dress is then machine-washed and dried in order to get any chemicals out of the fabric and to pre-shrink the garment if is made of cotton.

Final adjustments are made for fitting (Figure 12), and the dress is done. Geometry — that’s all it is!

modelling the dress after it has been washed
Figure 12

This blog post was contributed by Annette Carr, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences at Bay Shore. All photos courtesy of the author.