Positive Outlook


When faced with anti-Semitism, some take to the streets, some lobby their representatives and some get more involved in the Jewish community. Pikesville resident Sonia Rutstein, who performs as SONiA disappear fear, prefers pen and paper, an acoustic guitar and a recording studio.

Rutstein, the subject of Connor Graham’s cover story this week, released her 19th album, “By My Silence,” in January, after being affected by the tragic events in Charlottesville and Pittsburgh.

“It hit me really, really hard, and I had to write about it,” Rutstein said.

The album features a cover of a folk song inspired by Martin Niemöller’s “First they came…” poem, originals by Rutstein and a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that she’s sung regularly at a local synagogue. This year is a big one for the singer. Along with going on a European tour, she premieres a musical in March and is starting work on a memoir looking back at her 30-plus-year career.

In other news, Jewish librarians descended on Baltimore last month for the Association of Jewish Libraries’ conference. The group discussed making “Best of” lists for different kinds of Jewish books, and recommended their favorites to JT readers. Although Jewish libraries around the country face challenges, there is robust interest in Baltimore. The number of materials checked out in 2018 was more than double that of three years prior.

Speaking of Jewish books, Editorial Director Liz Spikol speaks with the writers and illustrator of the exquisite new children’s book “The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank,” which tells the story of Anne and her fellow annex residents from the point of view of a black cat. The book, published this week, was recently featured at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In national news, Samantha Cooper reports that the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation is looking for two yet-to-be-identified Holocaust witnesses to be transformed into Russian- language holograms: a Soviet Jew who survived the Holocaust and a Jewish veteran of the Soviet Red Army. The foundation wants to capture these experiences because they are not as well known as the experiences of Jews from other countries. Right now, there are already 15 English-speaking holograms, bringing history and technology together for future generations.

Happy reading!


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