Welcome to Our Community Library!
WHAT’S IN A JEWISH NAME?
It is not possible to say when the first surnames originated but Jewish family names became more common in the 10th and 11th centuries, most likely because of the rise of cities in Italy, Portugal and Spain and the practice of the Arab society to use surnames.
Both the Sephardic Jews in Spain and Portugal lived in cities as did the Ashkenazi Jews in Northern Europe but their circumstances were quite different. In those cities where Jews lived - by custom, by law and by prejudice – Jews were forced to live in ghettoes.
At the beginning of the 16th century city populations increased and along with a greater need of commerce, Jews were no longer restricted to certain businesses and occupations. As they came into greater contact with the surrounding communities it became more important to have a second name, a family name to distinguish them. Two examples to give you an idea of the small size of the Jewish populations in cities: in the 14th century 700 Jews lived in Frankfort, Germany and the Jewish population of Prague (Czechoslovakia) was 1200. Kimchi, which means flour merchant, and Schneider or tailor, became new family names and appear in the records.
The final step in this process of family names came in the late 18th century when the Emperor of Austria abolished the Jewish poll tax and allowed Jews into higher education and most occupations. In 1787 an edict was issued ordering the Jews of Galacia and Bucovina to adopt permanent family names.
And the story continues. Check our website for more information - tucsonjewishlibrary.org. If you have any questions about your family name, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have an expert who may be able help solve your genealogical puzzle.
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WE NEED YOUR UNWANTED BOOKS - FICTION AND NON-FICTION. PLEASE DROP THEM OFF AT THE JCC FRONT ENTRANCE.
Hours of Operation
Register for the LibraryIn order to take full advantage of the books available in the library,
please register here.
If you are interested in volunteering at the library,
please contact Marilyn Marcus (577-1975) or by email at
New Reading RoomWe are expanding our library ever so slightly! Over this summer we have added a reading area to the Tucson Jewish Community Library. The balcony area immediately south of, and outside of, our library which had been used as a storage area was redesigned as a reading area.
We will be installing racks for our Jewish newspapers from hometowns across the country. There will be comfortable chairs, a table and other amenities. Since it is outside of the library, the area will always be available whether there is a meeting in the library or not.
Thus far we have subscriptions to the following hometowns: Washington, D.C, New York City, Chicago, IL., etc.
If you would like your hometown newspaper on our shelves and we do not have it, you might consider a gift subscription to the paper so you will be able to read it but it will be there for other to enjoy.
BIBLIOGRAPHY - CONTEMPORARY JEWISH CULTURES
The Gifts of the Jews , Thomas Cahill.
Cahill describes the volume as “how a tribe of desert nomads changed the way everyone thinks and feels.” A great “feel good” book easily read. The implied answer to the question Are the Jews a blessing to the world? is –of course! The world DOES need the Jews.
In Search of American Jewish Culture , Stephen J. WhitfieldI
This is a fascinating tour of the history of the immigrant Jew in America and the contributions to American culture. The author’s challenge relating to Jewish identity is not who is a Jew and what our American Jewish ancestors feared, remembered but what they (the Jews) and their descendants might want to live for.
The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community in America , Steven M. Cohen and Arnold M. Eisen.
The story of the detailed study into the patterns and meanings of the activity of sixty American Jews. The authors sought to understand how Jewish identity is formed and how it is transmitted, to shed light on how the Jewish people are faring in the face of societal forces which indicate there should be great concern with the future of Jewry in America.
Why Be Jewish? David J. Wolpe
Rabbi Wolpe answers the question from a deeply spiritual point of view. He probes the soul and ritual and prayer to help Jews understand the power and the beauty of Judaism. A note of authenticity: Rabbi Wolpe at his Friday night services in Los Angeles normally attracts 800 to a 1000 young Jews!
The book grew out of the discussions the rabbi had with his confirmation classes through the years. The discussions about the the brit, bar/bat mitzvah help parents understand what their children are thinking and where they are coming from.
The following three books are strongly recommended to those who are interested in what Judaism offers to the Jew who lives in America in the 21st century.
Rabbi Sacks writes to his son about God, faith, Purim and so much more. Very readable and most excellent.
Does the World Need the Jews? Rabbi Daniel Gordis
Rabbi Gordis makes the case that the world needs Judaism but in the present crisis of Jewish identity most Jews are no longer certain why it matters to be a Jew. He examines Jewish life to illustrate where and how the contemporary Jew can regain the passion that tradition, ritual, community and religion matters. A book that you must put down and pick up, even to read sections a second time.
Getting Our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry , Scott A. Shay
If Judaism is to regain its stature and luster, then the Jewish community must re-educate and rebuild its institutions and its schools. A hard headed look at what it will take to get back in the groove.
The Jewish Mind by Raphael Patai
Written over a quarter century ago, Patai takes us on a journey in search of the Jewish mind. His investigation takes us through the course of Jewish history seeking the connection and relationships between Jewish cultures and the Jewish mind.
Cultures of the Jews: A New History , David Biale
A rich and textured history of the different cultures of the Jews as they lived in many nations from ancient Israel, to Rome, Islam, Christian Europe and America. As several authors examine each of the cultures in which the Jews have lived the layers of identity of the Jews is revealed.
A wonderful, small volume which details how the Jews lived in medieval Europe creating their own separate civilization but closely intertwined with their Christian neighbors. And what the transition to “modern times” wrought.
Origins of the Modern Jew: Jewish identity and Europe , Michael A. Meyer
A small, easily read volume which tells the story of the transformation of the identity of the Jew as we emerged into the modern world.
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Jewish Book Council
List of Needed Books
We are a small library with just 3000 volumes but we have a remarkably diverse collection of Jewish books with depth in a number of areas. As we look through our collection we find there are a number of books we would be pleased to add to our collection. Can you help?
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