Library Staff Profile: Christine Leddy

Christine Leddy, Librarian, Health Sciences Library – Central Islip 

Welcome to the latest in our series of Staff Profiles. Christine Leddy recently joined the Touro community as Librarian at the Health Sciences Library, which serves the School of Health Sciences and the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Christine answered some questions for us below:

Where were you born? 

I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My family moved to Long Island when I was four years old, and I grew up in the town of South Farmingdale. 

Where else have you lived? 

My husband and I have been raising our three children in the beautiful hamlet of Bohemia for the past 17 years. 

What languages do you speak? 

I speak English, although I’ve formally studied Spanish and Italian. Additionally, my daughter and I have spent many hours together self-teaching Sign Language. 

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

I have an MLS in Library and Information Science from Long Island University. I also have a Bachelor’s in Childhood Education and Social Sciences, and New York State Teacher Certification in Elementary Education. I have taught in the classroom, both in person and virtually, to students from Kindergarten through the collegiate levels. 

What is your ideal vacation?   

While my ideal vacation includes sun, sand, and piles of books, I also love to visit Theatre and museums, the Bronx Zoo, and Disney World. 

Any hobbies?   

My favorite hobbies include playing board/card games with my family, cooking and baking, arts and crafts, reading and listening to music, and playtime with my dog. One craft in particular that is a favorite of mine is crocheting soft and cozy blankets for shelter animals – the shelters are extremely grateful for the donations (and, I would imagine, so are the dogs and cats!) 

Favorite food? 

Cannolis. 

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

I love a good Horror movie! The creepier, the better. 

Thanks, Christine, and welcome to Touro!

Who is that masked man? Happy Purim!

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC09614.JPG •Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011
image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Book of Esther, Hebrew, c. 1700-1800 AD – Royal Ontario Museum – DSC09614.JPG  Uploaded by Daderot Created: November 20, 2011

[this post, by Toby Krausz, Judaica Librarian, was written in 2019 and has been updated for publication March, 2022]

On the night of Wednesday, March 16th, after having fasted all day Jews all over the world will gather in synagogues, houses of worship, places of study, and sometimes in their own homes to hear the story of Purim.

A long time ago when the empire of Persia and Medea ruled the world, all citizens of the capital city of Shushan were called to a feast at the king’s palace. Though the leader of the Jewish community, a very wise man named Mordechai, advised against it, the Jews of Shushan felt they had no choice but to obey the king’s decree. This feast was the beginning of a series of events that would lead King Achashverosh (Ahasuerus or Xerxes in English), to stamp and seal a terrible decree on the suggestion of his wicked advisor, Haman (a direct descendant of the ancient Jewish enemy Amalek): all Jews in the kingdom were to be slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the upcoming Hebrew month of Adar. Men, women, and children would be destroyed, no survivors. The Jews of the kingdom gathered in prayer under the guidance of their leader Mordechai. They donned sackcloth and ashes in mourning. But the Jewish people had a secret weapon, one that had been put in place sometime earlier: Mordechai’s niece, Esther, had been chosen out of all the beauties in the kingdom to marry King Achashverosh. Queen Esther lived modestly in the palace, keeping her Jewish identity and faith secret, but in this, she had no choice but to act. When she heard of the decree, she fasted and prayed for three days. Then Queen Esther went before the king without being summoned. This was a selfless, extraordinarily brave act that would lead to her death unless Achashverosh stretched out his scepter in welcome. Miraculously, he did.

Image Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons File:Purim, 1724.jpg Uploaded by Jonund Created: August 17, 2004
Image Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons File:Purim, 1724.jpg, Uploaded by Jonund Created: August 17, 2004. Illustration of the megillah being read from Juedisches Ceremoniel, a German book published in Nürnberg in 1724 by Peter Conrad Monath. The book is a beautifully illustrated description of Jewish religious ceremonies, rites of passage and feast days.

Esther had devised a plan: all Jews would fast and pray with her as she invited the King and the wicked Haman to a party. During the party, King Achashverosh was so struck by Esther’s beauty that he offered her anything, “up to half the kingdom.” She asked that he and Haman attend the party she would make tomorrow-then she would make her true request. That notorious night, the King could not sleep. Wondering why, he asked for the royal chronicles to be read, thinking that perhaps he owed someone a favor and that was subconsciously bothering him. He discovered that he did: part of the series of events leading to the terrible decree included Mordechai saving King Achashverosh’s life from an assassination plot. The King realized he had never rewarded the righteous Jew for saving his life.

Coincidentally, on the way home from the party Haman passed Mordechai and was incensed that Mordechai refused to bow in respect to him like everyone else. Haman was so angry he decided he could not wait for Adar: he would build a gallows and hang Mordechai on it, first thing in the morning. He began construction immediately on said gallows and ran to the king in the middle of the night to ask permission for a public execution. Before Haman could make his request, however, the king asked his top advisor what Haman thought should be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor. Thinking that man was naturally himself, Haman suggested he don the royal robes and crown, riding the king’s own horse through the capital city of Shushan, with an attendant declaring before him, “Thus shall be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor!” (Haman had a certain enemy of his in mind when he came up with that last bit) To his shock and horror, the king declared Mordechai was to be honored in this manner, with Haman leading the way and doing the proclaiming. This act gave the Jews of Shushan hope. When Haman finally arrived home after this humiliating experience, he was immediately called back to the palace for Esther’s party. During the party, Esther revealed her identity and her request: her own life and the lives of her people. King Achashverosh raged and demanded to know who would kill his own queen (perhaps the wine he drank at the party gave him selective memory). Esther pointed straight at Haman. The plot was foiled. The Jews were saved.

Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Ahasuerus and Haman at Esther's Feast, by Rembrandt, File:Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - Ahasuerus, Haman and Esther - Google Art Project.jpg, Uploaded by DcoetzeeBot.
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons. Ahasuerus and Haman at Esther’s Feast, by Rembrandt, File:Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn – Ahasuerus, Haman, and Esther – Google Art Project.jpg, Uploaded by DcoetzeeBot.

In a miraculous twist of events, Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows prepared for Mordechai. All Haman’s estates were given to Queen Esther. Mordechai was made second to the King and the decree was reversed: on the fourteenth of Adar, the day we now celebrate the holiday of Purim, named for the pur, or lots (as in gambling) that Haman threw to determine the month the destruction would take place, the Jews now had permission to turn the tables and wipe out all their enemies.

To commemorate the story of this miracle, Esther’s parties, and the idea that all became topsy-turvy that day, we hear the Megillas Esther (the book of Esther) read aloud twice, give each other gifts of food, dress in costumes and have a celebratory seudah, a meal with bread, meat, and wine. Among other traditions, we give matanos l’evyonim, gifts to the poor. The whole month of Adar is considered a time of joy.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.5, File:2 Mishloach Manot.jpg, Uploaded by Yoninah, Uploaded: March 21, 2006.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.5, File:2 Mishloach Manot.jpg, Uploaded by Yoninah, Uploaded: March 21, 2006.

So when you see a whole bunch of people in costume carrying baskets of food, and singing and dancing in the streets come Thursday, March 17th, you now know why. Wish them a freilichen Purim and remember to put Haman’s name on the bottom of your shoe so we can symbolically stamp out unfounded hatred for all generations to come.

Happy Purim!

All information in this post came from my own knowledge of the story of Purim. For more information, visit Encyclopaedia Judaica’s entry on Purim

or take a look at some of the books in our collection about this holiday:

Purim and the Persian Empire: a historical, archaeological, & geographical perspective / Yehuda Landy

The Purim anthology / Philip Goodman

Purim, or the Feast of Esther: a historical study / by N.S. Doniach

Purim = [Purim]: Purim, its observance and significance: a presentation based on Talmudic and traditional sources / compiled by Avie Gold ; overview by Nosson Scherman

Contributed by Toby Krausz, Judaica Librarian.

Happy New Year 2022!

2021 was another year of challenges and adjustments that the Touro community met head-on with resolve and perseverance. Facing the new year, we at Touro College Libraries look forward to helping promote information literacy and offering research support to our whole academic community. The Libraries would like to wish all Touro College and University System students, faculty, and staff a happy and healthy New Year!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

We look forward to seeing you on campus and online in 2022!

In the meantime we invite you to connect with the Library on social media for the latest updates and tips.

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 - cyfrowe.mnw.art.pl. 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

Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks

800px-PikiWiki_Israel_8879_Gan-Shmuel_-_Shavuot_holiday_1965
Young women celebrating Shavuot in Israel, 1965 (CC image via Wikimedia)

this post was originally published May 30, 2017. It has been edited and updated.

Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks marks 7 weeks since the conclusion of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, when the Torah and the Ten Commandments were received at Mount Sinai. There are a number of customs associated with the celebration of Shavuot, which can be enumerated using the mneumonic of the Hebrew word acharit (אחרית‎, “last”). These include the reading of a liturgical poem and from the Book of Ruth, the consumption of dairy foods (like cheesecake, blintzes, and kreplach), the decoration of homes with flowers or greenery, and all-night Torah study. Read more about the meaning of Shavuot and its traditions.

This year, Shavuot begins at sunset on Sunday, May 16 and ends at sundown on Tuesday, May 18. Touro Libraries will be closed Monday, May 17 and Tuesday, May 18, and will resume their normal schedule on Wednesday, May 19.

Chag Shavuot Sameach! Happy Shavuot!

The Celebration of Purim

This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.

Hamentashen, a traditional Purim sweet (CC image by Rebecca Slegel)
Hamantaschen, a traditional Purim sweet (CC image by Rebecca Slegel)

The observation of Purim begins the evening of February 25th

Purim is a holiday that represents a tangible victory over an enemy. Many things are done to commemorate this victory. The Book of Esther is read, people go around in costume to show their happiness, a festive meal is eaten, and charity is given to help those who otherwise couldn’t celebrate this occasion. People give out packages of food to friends (usually in the form of a dessert) to celebrate camaraderie.

For more on the history and celebration of this holiday, see “Who is that masked man?” Happy Purim!

Contributed by: Edward Shabes, Library Assistant, Midtown

Celebrating the Lunar New Year

This post was originally published on February 8, 2016 and has been updated

Chinese New Year celebrations in San Francisco (photo by Daniel Dionne)

Our enthusiasm for opportunities to start fresh has frequently made its way onto the blog, from the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), to the civil New Year, to the start of a new semester.

This week marks another calendrical reset: the Lunar New Year. Commonly known as the Chinese New Year for its largest group of celebrants, it’s the start of a calendar determined in part by the phases of the moon, rather than the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. Because of this, the civil date of the holiday varies from late January to mid-February.

According to former Touro Library Cataloger, Liping Wang, observations of the holiday often include cleaning the home, families gathering for a home-cooked meal on New Year’s Eve, fireworks, and “luck money” given from the older generations to the younger in red envelopes. In New York, you can normally participate in parades and other celebrations held in Chinatown, in Manhattan, and in Flushing, Queens. NYC public schools recognize the Lunar New Year as an official holiday, meaning no school for students. Alas, Touro classes are all still in session, but we wish you all a happy Lunar New Year!

Happy New Year 2021!

2020 was a challenging year, but as we look to 2021, there are many reasons to be hopeful. We are thankful to have been a part of your year and look forward to supporting your success in the new one, too, through research support, online and print resources, and more. Make it your resolution to come visit us — online or in-person — and see all that we have to offer you.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

The Touro College Libraries wish you and your families a happy and healthy new year!

Put on your yarmulke, it’s time to celebrate Chanukah!

This post was originally published on the Touro College Library blog in 2015

(photo Ricki Carroll)
Many menorahs (photo by Ricki Carroll)

When I was a college student living in the dormitory, one of my favorite times of the year was Chanukah. Starting from the evening of the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, over one-hundred girls who called the dorm home came down to the front lounge, where long, foil-covered tables were set up in full view of the street, to light Chanukah lecht (candles or lights).

For eight nights the front lounge was softly lit with the light from hundreds of Chanukah lights. It did not matter if that light came from a sturdy iron menorah you brought with you from home that used olive oil and wicks or a cheap aluminum menorah you purchased in the dorm’s convenience store with a box of multicolored candles. Saying the blessings and watching the lights burn together, remembering the miracles that occurred in Jewish history during that time, that was what counted. Everyone was friendlier and more cheerful by candlelight, even if finals were around the corner and assignments were due the next day. Girls brought their dreidels downstairs to play around the low tables and ate sufganiyot, traditional jelly doughnuts fried in oil, provided by the school.

Jerusalem_Sufganiot_(8141532264)
Sufganiot from Old Jerusalem, Jewish Quarter Road, Neeman Bakery (CC image by Geagea)

We sang Chanukah songs and discussed the story of how a small group of Jews called the Maccabees (incidentally, our school sports teams and acapella group were named for these famous warriors) rose up from the oppression of the Syrian-Greeks during the time of the second Temple. Antiochus, their king, had issued restrictive edicts punishable by death preventing Jews from practicing their religion, including outlawing the Jewish Sabbath and most importantly, installing and worshiping idols in the Holy Temple. Judah Maccabee and his followers fought back, winning the battle against the massive Syrian-Greek army with their small band of soldiers.

The seven Maccabee brothers are condemned to death by Antiochus IV, by
The seven Maccabee brothers are condemned to death by Antiochus IV, by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

After the fight, when Judah went to re-dedicate the Temple after its desecration and light the great Temple menorah, he could not find any of the special oil used. All bottles appeared to have been smashed during the desecration. After a thorough search, a tiny bottle of oil that would only be enough for one day was found still sealed. That oil burned for exactly eight days and nights, the amount of time required to produce a new batch of oil. To remember this miracle, Jews eat foods fried in olive oil, such as the aforementioned sufganiyot and potato pancakes called latkes. The dreidel has the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hay, and shin on each of its sides, which stands for ”neis gadol hayah sham,” or “a great miracle happened there”. Though I am not in the dorm this year, I will make time to pass by, look through the front windows at the long table of lights, and remember.

This year, Chanukah begins at sundown on Thursday, December 10th and ends at sundown Friday, December 18th.

This post was contributed by Toby Krausz, Judaica Librarian, Midtown