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Mollie L. Berch Library

The Mollie L. Berch library plays a major role in our synagogue’s efforts to enhance understanding of Jewish beliefs and holiday celebrations, provide information for life cycle events and practices, increase spirituality, promote lifelong reading and learning about Judaism, and provide access to sacred texts in English and Hebrew. Our library serves our congregants, their children, school faculty, clergy and staff.

We have upwards of 7,000 volumes, with strong emphasis on:

• Bible commentary
• Biographies and memoirs
• Children’s books
• US History
• Fiction, including Israeli novels and short stories, in English
• History (U.S. and world)
• The Holocaust
• Women’s studies

We also have more narrow collections in the following areas:

• Cookbooks
• Jewish art
• Lifecycle
• Meditation, Mysticism, Kabbalah
• Mysteries
• Poetry
• Sports
• Yiddish works in translation

Unlike some large synagogue libraries that are locked, the TI Library is open all the time and any TI member may check out a book including on Shabbat (the process does not involve writing or electronics). Most of our holdings can be found in the TI Library Catalog. Take a look by clicking here!

From Jeri Roth Lande (fall 2022):  As you may have heard, I am the new Mollie L. Berch librarian. First, I'd like to thank Michele Sumka for all her years of service.  Next, I would like to say I am honored and humbled to follow in the footsteps of Mollie Berch, the library's founder and longtime librarian.

My first goals are to organize everything and to make it easier to find books of interest. You'll note some new shelf labels have recently appeared. Next, I hope to go through some of the boxes of extra books. I'd also like to increase the selection of books for young children, especially board books. 

If you are interested in helping out in the library, please contact me.  I am also open to ideas on how to make the library more useful to everyone.  My e-mail is

A few things to note:

BOOK RETURNS: If you borrowed books from the library, please bring them back. There is a returns shelf on the right, immediately as you enter the library.

DONATIONS: I appreciate that people are generous and want to donate books to the library. However, there is not enough space to display the books we have and we are unable to take donations at this time. The one exception is if you have any children's Jewish board books.

GIVEAWAYS: If you have 1-5 Jewish-themed books that you want to give away, you can put them on the giveaway shelf next to the elevator on the first floor.

Thank you Michele!

Michele Sumka ran TI’s Mollie L. Berch Library for over a decade. The library, a remarkable resource for a synagogue the size of TI, is the legacy of the eponymous Mollie L. Berch herself, who started, built and ran it for many years. A year before her death in 2011 Mollie asked Michele to help in the library. Lacking experience but loving both reading and Mollie, Michele agreed. That soon turned into taking the reins herself, with the assistance of a committee.

Michele tried to run the library in a manner that honors Mollie’s vision and priorities. At points in the past the library has had some paid assistants but the budget for that is gone, and Michele--a volunteer herself--did the work together with other volunteers. For several years she was helped most by Diana Zurer.

The library has an acquisition budget funded by contributions, often made in someone’s honor. Because the library has reached its space limit, difficult but important de-accession decisions are necessary. Worn out and less used books must be cleared to make space for new ones. Michele enjoyed the challenge of organizing the collection, rearranging books for maximum accessibility and ease of browsing.

Many congregants are unaware that the library catalog is accessible via the synagogue website. One of the librarian’s jobs is to keep the catalog updated. A good library doesn’t just happen. Thank you, Michele, for your service to TI.

- Abbreviated from an article by Jared Garelick, May 2022 Menorah

Mon, May 27 2024 19 Iyyar 5784