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New Rochelle Library To House Israel Book Collection

On January 21, the New Rochelle Public Library (NRPL) and the Consulate General of Israel in New York co-hosted a virtual opening of the Israel Forum Collection at the NRPL. The collection’s books, mostly translated from Hebrew to English and Spanish, include a variety of topics, including culture, history, economics, agriculture, fiction, homemaking, fashion and exercise. The books will be available for loan, and related Zoom programs will enhance the collection’s mission.

NRPL President Emeritus Haina Just-Michael, hosting the event, said: “I don’t live in New Rochelle anymore, but New Rochelle lives in my family’s hearts and souls. Its diverse community has taught me and my family so many life lessons. At the core of the lessons I have learned is, of course, the New Rochelle Public Library.

“Among the many important lessons I learned in the library,” she continued, “one thing that has always stood out to me was that I learned firsthand from Library Director Tom Geoffino the importance of understanding and collaborating with other organizations. It expands horizons, deepens our ability to fulfill our mission of education and enrich our community.

“One day, brainstorming with my buddy from the Israeli Consulate, Sofia Weinstein, who wanted to make an impact on a diverse New York community, we came up with the NRPL, a perfect community for the Israel Consulate to make an educational impact. Libraries play a fundamental role in society. The resources and services they offer, creating opportunities for learning, help support literacy and help shape new ideas and perspectives, which are essential to create an innovation society.”

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson delivered thanks on behalf of the city’s 80,000 residents. “This is a community that really prides itself on its diversity, even though we are small to medium sized,” he said. “We really have an international flavor, and so many of our residents trace themselves proudly to countries of origin throughout the world. We all come together and share in each other’s lives, learn from each other and come to better appreciate our common humanity.”

Bramson noted that over the decades, the Jewish community has been a critical part of New Rochelle’s economic life, cultural life, and civic and political leadership. He expects the cultural tradition to be better appreciated through the resources that the library will now have.

The Consulate General of Israel represents the State of Israel in New York, coordinating relationships with both national and local organizations in the New York area. This new collaborative collection will be available to all 38 Westchester County public libraries

Israel Nitzan, the acting consul general, stated: “I want to thank everyone for organizing this special opening ceremony of the Israel Forum Collection hosted by the NRPL. We gather today also in honor of the Hebrew Language Day, celebrating the visionary work of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who resurrected the long-forgotten Hebrew language and paved the way, turning it into the vibrant and modern language spoken today in Israel.

“In order to make the modern Hebrew language more accessible to citizens of New Rochelle and Westchester, the consulate has provided over 200 books,” Nitzan added. “These books will provide readers with an insight into many works created in Hebrew. We are delighted to cooperate with New Rochelle, strengthening even more the relations with your community. During these times, when people cannot fly and visit the beautiful State of Israel, we are excited to bring Israeli culture into your community and to enable your community to imagine, feel and understand Israel and its diversity.”

Tom Geoffino, NRPL’s director, said: “When Haina approached us to begin the process of creating the Israel Forum Collection, it was exciting, because our library and community are about diversity, about out multiculturalism, about a place that everybody in the community can come, be treated alike and be given books, information, audiobooks, DVDs—everything that they want and need.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to add these titles in a collaborative manner, because our library is an organization that has limited resources. When we get to partner with a great organization like the Israeli Consulate, it just makes us stronger and better.”

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added: “We put resources in libraries. We do this because we know that when we invest in libraries, we invest in people.” The audience then heard an abridged history of the Jews of New Rochelle from Rabbi Evan Hoffman of Congregation Anshe Shalom, New Rochelle’s oldest synagogue.

Just-Michael concluded by inviting the audience to visit the Israel Forum Collection online at www.nrpl.org. “This is a quick dedication, a celebration of a good thing for a community; and remember, the right words, in the right order, can change the world.”

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