Monday, May 01, 2023

Throughout the month of May, the Charleston County Public Library joins the nation in celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month. CCPL has resources and opportunities to learn about the contributions of Jewish Americans.  According to the Charleston Jewish Federation, Charleston's Jewish community is one of the oldest communities in North America.

The Jerry and Anita Zucker Holocaust Collection at the Main Library is an educational component of the Charleston Holocaust Memorial in Marion Square. The focus of the reference collection is the Nazi persecution and destruction of European Jewry and other minorities.

Visit the Baxter-Patrick James Island Library for an Exploring Your Roots program on May 2 at 2 p.m. Come learn tips for doing genealogical research on your Jewish, Hatian, or Asian Pacific ancestors.

Join us at the John's Island Library for a family storytime with a special guest from the Charleston Jewish Federation who will read, sing, and celebrate Jewish American authors and illustrators.

In 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May would be Jewish American Heritage Month and the announcement was the crowning achievement in an effort by the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish community leaders, according to the Library of Congress. Representatives also called on the president to proclaim a month that would recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. The resolution passed unanimously.

Virtual Programming

The CCPL YouTube page gives you access to several programs in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month at your fingertips. 

Learn about young adult books that prominently feature Jewish American teens with this book talk

Celebrate the life and legacy of Margot Freudenberg. Learn about some of her notebooks, that are housed at the South Carolina Room located at the Main Library.   

Learn from the late Joe Engel, a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp and member of the Charleston Jewish Federation, who shares stories of survival and hope. Engel's story begins in the small, close-knit town of Zakroczym. On Sept.1, 1939, the day the Germans invaded Poland, the town was destroyed. Joe was packed into a cattle car on a transport train to Auschwitz, and he stood up for two and a half days without food or water. During the Death March, Joe escaped from a transport train to Czechoslovakia, where he joined the resistance and went on missions to explode German ammunition.

Visit and subscribe to the CCPL YouTube Channel to get video updates and to see more virtual programs.

Jewish Federation of Charleston

The Charleston Jewish Federation is a CCPL partner. We provide programming throughout the year in partnership with the federation. View their events calendar here

On May 1, The Charleston Jewish Federation's REMEMBER Program hosted Charleston’s 2022 Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Program at the Charleston Holocaust Memorial in Marion Square. The program featured second and third generation survivors and was in partnership with CCPL. 

To view upcoming events, visit the federation events calendar here


Library Staff Book Recommendations 

Our CCPL Library staff have selected books for children, teens and adults in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month. Check out this list below that includes books that you will find in our collection. You can click on the book title that interests you to place a hold.

Children's Books 

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark  by Debbie Levy

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what's right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG tells the justice's story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

Chance: Escape from the Holocaust by Uri Shulevitz

The first middle-grade book from a picture book master-a harrowing, heartrending, illustrated account of his childhood escape from the terrors of war.

How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani

Middle schooler Ariel Goldberg must find her own voice and define her own beliefs after her big sister elopes with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage.

Red and Green and Blue and White by Lee Wind

On Isaac's street most of the houses are decorated in red and green for Christmas including his friend, Teresa's, while Isaac's house is blue and white for Hanukkah; then someone smashes Isaac's window in the night, and Teresa comes up with a way to show support her friend--and gets the whole community to rally around their Jewish family.

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros 

James has a bunch of balloons, each of which holds a special memory, but as his grandfather ages and loses his own balloons, James discovers that he is gaining new ones.


Young Adult Books

American ShoesL A Refugee's Story by Rosemarie Lengsfeld Turke and Garrett L. Turke

Set against a backdrop of Adolf Hitler's rise to power, the reign of Nazi Germany, and the entire course of World War II in Europe, American Shoes recounts the tumultuous childhood of a young American girl and her family trapped within a country that turned against itself, where human decency eroded and then vaporized. Forced to grow up in the midst of endemic fear stoked by a ravenous madman, American Shoes portrays the breakdown of a society from a child's point of view, deep inside a land where millions of law-abiding citizens were targeted as threats, and then removed for extermination. This is the story of a brave girl who, despite not being Jewish, was perceived to be one of those threats and was compelled to keep her American identity secret for fear of her family's arrest, concentration camp placement, or worse. Fighting to see through a relentless barrage of Nazi lies and propaganda, caught within a nation where resistance or opposition meant incarceration if not certain death, American Shoes illuminates one family's struggle to survive against impossible odds as a cataclysmic world war marched closer and closer until it was upon them. Vividly told for the first time after seven decades of a family's collective silence, American Shoes reveals the story of a brave and spirited young girl named Rosel who refused to accept the new order of a world gone mad, inside a society that became more sinister and macabre than any childhood nightmare could ever be. Driven by the faint memories of the land where she was born-a hazy beacon that guided her toward freedom and a new life-this is the story of Rosemarie Lengsfeld Turke

The City Beautiful, by Aden Polydoros 

For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he'll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania. But when Alter's best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World's Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov's dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows. Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter's body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.


Adult Books 

The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig 

The Jewish Cookbook is an inspiring celebration of the diversity and breadth of this venerable culinary tradition. A true fusion cuisine, Jewish food evolves constantly to reflect the changing geographies and ingredients of its cooks. Featuring more than 400 home-cooking recipes for everyday and holiday foods from the Middle East to the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa - as well as contemporary interpretations by renowned chefs including Yotam Ottolenghi, Michael Solomonov, and Alex Raij - this definitive compendium of Jewish cuisine introduces readers to recipes and culinary traditions from Jewish communities the world over, and is perfect for anyone looking to add international tastes to their table.

Lee Krasner: A Biography by Gail Levin

Lee Krasner, best known as Jackson Pollock's wife, reveals a woman who was a firebrand and trailblazer for women's rights, who also led a fascinating life, and who is finally now being recognized as one of the 20th century's modernist masters.

Visit for more program information.