Chanukah

Happy Chanukah from
Temple Beth Orr!

This Chanukah, TBO is encouraging our members to #ShineLight where there is darkness.

Book bans are on the rise across the country. These bans disproportionately target marginalized authors and characters, particularly LGBTQ+ individuals and people of color. The bans also target books featuring minority religions (Judaism, Islam and others) and historical events that have negatively impacted minorities (including the Holocaust and slavery in the United States).

Representation matters. All children deserve to see themselves, their families and their concerns represented in the media they consume. Stories allow children to understand the world and their place in it, and even encourage empathy with those unlike themselves. Stories enable people of all ages to gain perspectives that they would not hear or see from those in their close circle.

Judaism has always valued learning and intellectual growth. Our tradition teaches that learning and gaining knowledge is a path to understanding, reducing prejudice, and building bridges within a world in need of greater compassion and respect. Banning books by authors with perspectives and life experiences other than our own, is a complete contradiction of our 3000 year heritage of learning.

Will you help to shine the light of understanding and knowledge this Chanukah?

Jews are the people of the book for a reason. We know from experience that those who refuse to learn the perspectives of others pose a danger to us and minority people of all kinds. On the 5th night of Chanukah, December 22, 2022, Temple Beth Orr is focusing on the gift of learning, of knowledge, of free speech, of understanding.

What can I do to help #ShineLight?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Purchase a banned book as a Chanukah (or Christmas) gift for someone you know. If you would like to support an author whose book has been banned and do not have someone to whom to gift it, you may bring it to the Temple and we will donate the book(s) to a good cause.

    → https://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/banned-books/_/N-rtm

    → https://www.rd.com/list/banned-books/

    → https://www.powells.com/featured/banned-books-week-2022-blue-room

    → https://shop.aer.io/bannedbooks

  1. Write a letter to the Broward County School Board or to the newspaper to voice your feelings on book bans.

    A sample letter is linked here: Sample Letter to School Board

  1. Donate to an organization working to fight the banning of books in our country’s libraries and schools.

    PEN America
    Click here for PEN America

    Freedom to Read Foundation
    Click here for Freedom to Read Foundation

 

Background Information

From July 2021 to June 2022, PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans lists 2,532 instances of individual books being banned, affecting 1,648 unique book titles.

Among the 1,648 unique titles in the Index,
    → 674 titles (41 percent) explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+ (this includes a specific subset of titles for transgender characters or stories—145 titles, or 9 percent);
    → 659 titles (40 percent) contain protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color;
    → 338 titles (21 percent) directly address issues of race and racism;
    → 357 titles (22 percent) contain sexual content of varying kinds, including novels with some level of description of sexual experiences of teenagers, stories about teen pregnancy, sexual assault and abortion as well as informational books about puberty, sex, or relationships;
    → 161 titles (10 percent) have themes related to rights and activism;
    → 141 titles (9 percent) are either biography, autobiography, or memoir; and
    → 64 titles (4 percent) include characters and stories that reflect religious minorities, such as Jewish, Muslim and other faith traditions.

From the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Nov 03, 2022:
Eleven books challenged by a group of conservative parents are either being banned from Broward school libraries or restricted to certain age groups, according to a memo sent to school principals.

Chief Academic Officer Nicole Mancini instructed principals Oct. 25 to share with their library staffs the list of ‘materials that have been identified for removal or transfer.’

The books were identified by the Broward chapter of the group Moms for Liberty as having sexually explicit content or LGBTQ messages the group says violates the Parental Rights in Education law, which critics have dubbed as ‘don’t say gay.’”

Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools
https://pen.org/report/banned-usa-growing-movement-to-censor-books-in-schools/

Link to pdf of 400+ books banned within the state of Florida
Books Banned in Florida 2022

These 176 books were banned in Duval County. Florida
https://pen.org/banned-books-florida/