Hanukah is a holiday of light

December 15th, 2014

“Hanukah is a holiday of light, and everyone should have light…it’s a chance to take goodness and lightness to make the world a better place.” ~ Chabad Rabbi Yossi Greenberg

On December 2, 2014, Jewish culture was celebrated with a special meal served in the Den at Indiana University East, and the playing of the Hanukah dreidel game. Hanukah begins the evening of Dec. 16 and lasts for 8 nights. Rabbi Yossi Greenberg, the Chabad Rabbi at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio was present to answer any questions about the meal, Hanukah or Jewish traditions in general. The meal consisted of traditional kosher style items such as falafel, kugel, and latkes. Eighth graders in Tiauna Washington’s class from the Early College program at local intermediate school Hibberd attended the event as well.

Mallory full of hope in the epic dreidel game JCFE 12-2-14

Although the majority of the eighth graders had never eaten Jewish cuisine, most of them liked all of the new types of food. After clearing his entire plate, Jordan said, “It was good, filling, and some of it was even a little spicy.” Another eighth grader, Mike, had eaten some of these traditional types of Jewish foods before. He said, “I liked all of the food for the most part. A lot of it was pretty good.” Alexandra, an IU East student volunteer of the event, said her favorite part of the meal was the sweet potato dish.

After the meal, the students had the opportunity to play the Dreidel game. The game began during the times of oppression of the Jews by the Greeks. Jewish children studied the Torah in hiding, since study of Torah has been outlawed, and when soldiers were approaching, they would pull out spinning tops to show that they were simply playing a game. The intermediate students enjoyed playing the game. The champion of the Dreidel tournament, Taylor, said that some of her extended family are Jewish, so she had played the game a lot previously. However, when asked what the trick was, she said there wasn’t one. For her grand prize, Taylor got to take home a travel Menorah, a smaller version of the traditional candelabrum in which one candle is lit each night of Hanukah.

Taylor winner of dreidel contest EC 8 JCFE 12-2-14

I spoke with Rabbi Yossi about the event and his experiences as a Chabad Rabbi. He said of the event, “The children are amazing, smiling, happy, having fun. This diversity event was a wonderful opportunity.” Yossi has been a rabbi for the last four years. He moved from Brooklyn, New York to Ohio two years ago. He said studying to be a rabbi was a lifelong process, but he did attend Rabbinical College in New York for two years. While preparing to become a rabbi, he had the opportunity to travel to various places. Among them were Ukraine, Israel, Canada, and quite a bit of Europe, including England. Rabbi Yossi said he had probably first played the dreidel game himself when he was around two since the game doesn’t really have an age requirement, and all can play.

Rabbi Yossi said he wanted to become a rabbi to help people. He also said he enjoys meeting a lot of new people, and that being a rabbi simply makes him happy. When asked for any final comments, the rabbi leaves us with this: “Hanukah is a holiday of light, and everyone should have light…it’s a chance to take goodness and lightness to make the world a better place.”

Group EC8 Jewish Culture Day 12-2-14

For everyone who wants to learn more about Jewish culture or Judaism, IU East has lots of resources. Books available run the gamut of history, culture, and religion. Titles include Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years by Israel Shahak, Turning Points in Jewish Intellectual History by David Aberbach, Jewish Social Contract: An Essay in Political Theology by David Novak, Understanding Judaism by Jeremy Rosen, Jewish Philosophy in a Secular Age by Kenneth Seeskin, Midrashic Imagination: Jewish Exegesis, Thought, and History by Michael Fishbane, and New Perspectives in Theology of Judaism by Shubert Spero. And we have a LibGuide which serves as portal to a wide variety of resources and multimedia. We even have children’s books to share with younger learners, including While the Candles Burn: Eight Stories for Hanukkah by Barbara Diamond Goldin and A Jewish Holiday ABC by Malka Drucker. There’s something for everyone!

Do you have any questions? Share them with us at iueref@iue.edu!

Research at the Last Minute

December 8th, 2014

It’s the time of year when finals, papers, and research projects are coming due. And there’s a saying among procrastinators – “if it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done”. Well, for this semester, the last minute is now upon us.

But it’s easy to get busy, and you may be feeling overwhelmed, or behind on your papers and projects. And it’s true, your options are more limited the less time you have. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still do great research, and get a great grade. And there are a few things you can do to speed that process.

First, if you can, pick a topic that you already know something about. It makes it a lot easier if you don’t have to start from scratch – in fact, if you’ve done work on a similar topic in previous years, a book or article that you already have might be useful. If you can’t pick a topic that you already understand, then pick something popular, that a lot of people get fired up about. If you choose a topic that’s too original or esoteric, good resources will be harder to find. Things that were important innovations, historical events, or controversies – those will have plenty of sources. Also, make sure you pick a broad enough topic. Choosing something like the effect of cubism on subsequent drafts of Gertrude Stein’s novel The Making of Americans is far too narrow; you’ll have a hard time getting enough sources in time. But choosing something like World War II is too broad; it will be hard to say anything meaningful and you’ll be overwhelmed with information. Topics like how to prevent recidivism in violent juvenile offenders or the evolution of the beak are likely to have enough material available, while being a discrete enough topic that you can talk about it intelligently in ten to twenty pages. Remember, it’s easier to start too broad and winnow your topic down than start too narrow and struggle to find enough.

Second, search for full text only. You probably don’t have time for interlibrary loan (although it’s possible to get articles back within a day or two, if you’re fortunate), so full text databases are your friend. Ones like JSTOR, ProQuest, and EBSCO databases like Academic Search Premier are either all full text or you can easily click a check box to only get full text items back. And ebook databases like eBrary and EBSCO eBooks are the equivalent for book sources. Don’t be afraid to use the search function to quickly find just the pages of the book or article you need. There’s no sense reading all of a 30 page article or a 300 page book if there are only five pages on your topic!

limit to full text

Third, use summaries and other people’s research to quickly decide if you want something. For articles, this often involves reading the abstract first. That one paragraph can tell you immediately what the argument and conclusions were; and browsing it can save you a lot of time reading something you might not want. If the abstract sounds like it fits your paper, the whole article will, too. Also, use citations to get more on your topic quickly. Once you find one paper you like, the references at the end that the author used are likely to talk about the same things. And even if you’re not allowed to use Wikipedia as a source, each page there also includes citations at the bottom that can link you to more valuable, and admissible, research.

abstract example

So just because it is the last minute, don’t worry. You can still put together an awesome final paper or project. And if you need any help, we’re here for you – ask us at iueref@iue.edu.

Breaking Bread

November 24th, 2014

Probably, if you are a college student, you’ve done some last-minute studying over a pizza. Maybe you’ve gone a week eating little more than Raman noodles because money was tight. Both of these are pretty common in ‘college culture’. Students have gotten together and learned and commiserated over these ‘college cuisine’ foods for generations.

Food is a cornerstone of any culture – secular, regional, religious, or national. Not just the taste of the food – but also the social aspects of eating and enjoying time with each other. In experiencing other cultural traditions in sharing meals, we can learn and appreciate that culture in a way that mere words do not convey. The Den and the Diversity Committee are working together to create just such an opportunity at IU East, with several Cultural Food Days each semester. On December 2nd, from 11:00 – 2:00, the Den will be serving traditional Jewish cuisine, including falafel, kugel, latkes, and more, under the tutelage of Rabbi Yossi Greenberg, from the Chabad Jewish Student Center at Miami University. Participants can also learn about Hanukkah customs and play the driedel game. And next semester, African and Latin American foods will be explored.

jewish cultural foods flyer

Of course, even if words can’t fully express the meaning in cultural food and eating, we have plenty of books that try. Sink your teeth into titles like Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture by Eugene Anderson, Reimagining Marginalized Foods: Global Processes, Local Places by Elizabeth Finnis, and How Food Made History by B.W. Higman. Or for a more hands-on experience, try out a cookbook, such as The Multicultural Cookbook for Students by Carole Lisa Albyn, Betty Crocker’s New International Cookbook, or The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook: Food & Fun around the World by Deanna F. Cook. There’s something for every taste!

If you have any questions, contact us at iueref@iue.edu.

I Will Write Peace on Your Wings

November 17th, 2014

November 17th is World Peace Day, a time when people focus on how they can bring peace through their own grassroots actions (in contrast to holidays like September’s International Day of Peace, which focuses more on global efforts to end wars). Started in 1997 by Don Morris, World Peace Day gives agency to ordinary people who might be unable to contribute to global initiatives. Small, personal acts of personal growth and transformation are celebrated – it is a truly ‘grassroots’ holiday, independent from any specific government or religious organization.

One story that inspired Morris was the tale of the Thousand Origami Cranes – a Japanese legend that anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a single wish. In the 1950s, a girl named Sadako Sasaki was dying of radiation poisoning from Hiroshima. She started folding cranes in the hope of wishing for her recovery. But before the end she made her wish for world peace, saying “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” Her example has made the crane a lasting symbol for world peace.


Morris challenges people to similarly fold cranes and put them in public places, to represent that enduring wish for world peace. The library is also making 1,000 cranes, and you are invited to help. Origami paper is available for free in the library, and instructions for folding them are online. You can fold as many as you want, and help us wish for peace.

And for anyone wanting to take further steps towards peace, the library has a lot of resources. Books like Peace Movements Worldwide by Michael Nagler, The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, Committing to Peace: The Successful Settlement of Civil Wars by Barbara Walter, Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution by Saleem Ali, Taking a Stand: A Guide to Peace Teams and Accompaniment Projects by Elizabeth Boardman and People, Peace, and Power: Conflict Transformation in Action by Diana Francis are all excellent places to begin. And any social science database like SocIndex, ProQuest Social Science, or Opposing Viewpoints offers a wealth of information, as well. For any questions about accessing these resources or more, please Ask Us! iueref@iue.edu

The IU East Campus Library got involved in making cranes for World Peace Day after library director Yates read about a project at the Hartford Seminary. Library student staff Amber Estadilla and Alexandra Estes led the way, making hundreds of cranes themselves and also teaching many IU East students, faculty and staff how to make them. This group effort led to the completion of 1,000 paper cranes in time to celebrate World Peace Day!

You can help celebrate peace any day by posting an image of a paper crane on your Facebook page, as a symbol of your personal commitment to peace.

cranes blog graphic

If You Can’t Feed a Hundred People Then Feed Just One

November 10th, 2014

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa, Roman Catholic missionary in India (1910-1997)

People who are hungry are all around us. We often think of the problem of hunger as one of starvation, experienced by people in war-torn countries thousands of miles away or those at the absolute bottom, who are homeless and alone. But that isn’t true – plenty of people struggle to put food on the table, at least sometimes. We call this Food Insecurity – when people don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, or how they’ll provide their children with something nutritionally adequate and safe. There are, of course, government programs – including food stamps and free school lunches. But the problem is vast, and hard to solve.

There are plenty of resources for studying the problem of hunger – from books like Hunger Efforts and Food Security by James Tobin, Sustainability Challenge: Food Security for All, and Hunger and Poverty: Causes, Impacts and Eradication: Food Security: Quality Management, Issues and Economic Implications by Maddox Jones to databases like Opposing Viewpoints, SocIndex, or the Palladium-Item to web resources like Bread for the World or Stats Indiana for local statistics. Regardless of what you need, the library is a great place for learning about how to do something to help relieve the crisis.

bread for the world stats

One local opportunity you can be a part of is the Empty Bowls luncheon on November 15th at First Friends Meeting. Empty Bowls programs are done in hundreds of communities in many countries. Artists and potters craft bowls, with which participants share a simple, sustainable meal. The participants get to keep their bowl, as a reminder of those who do not have a full bowl of their own. The proceeds from the luncheon go to help the hungry, locally and worldwide. All of the bowls for this event will be created by the IU East Ceramics Department and other local potters in the community.

Open Arms Ministries of Richmond, the organization that IU East Center for Service-Learning is partnering with for this Empty Bowls luncheon, serves between 45 and 65 families each month, so your attendance will directly help our community. And the Wayne County Foundation has agreed to match every dollar donated, so this is a perfect time to get involved. The luncheon will be held in Boruk Hall, 2010 Chester Boulevard and starts at 11:00 AM. If you are interested in volunteering to help, contact the Center for Service-Learning at 765-973-8411 or iueastsl@iue.edu.