Attend the book fair to learn, to read, to tell
By Laura Seymour

The J Book Fair is in full swing with authors scheduled to visit between now and late April, 2012. Be sure to check out for specific details, schedules and events.
The books and authors showcased during this period are certainly varied and we know that many people will choose to attend a particular author’s event based on interest in that author or the subject he/she covers in the books that are written. But with this year’s book fair, why not try a different approach? Why not try coming to any events and/or talks you can? You may be surprised at what you learn, or what you find out about an author or a topic. I’ve said it before: Jews are “People of the Book” — and, as such, we value learning. There is much to be learned from reading. There is also much to be learned from listening to an author talk about the story behind his/her published story.
Even better is that the book fair is also interactive. If you ever thought you might want to write a book, or have been interested in telling your story, plan to attend author Michael Levin’s workshop for budding authors on March 26, 2012. Levin’s most recent book is “Guttenberg to Google — the Rise and Fall of Books.”
Please plan to attend this session — everyone has a story to tell, and even if it isn’t your destiny (or even your desire) to be a famous author, there is likely someone out there waiting to hear your story.
In addition to being “People of the Book,” Jews are certainly “People of the Story” — we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years, passing along anecdotes and tales from generation to generation. Your own story may be a journey or a moment in time or a family recipe — don’t lose your story so you must pass it on.
In the many adult Jewish education classes at the J, we learn about how the ancient sages and rabbis interpreted the words of Torah to help guide their lives at specific points in time. These wise men knew how to use those interpretations, and those stories, to help people learn. We must challenge ourselves to continue the interpretation and the stories for today. For example, what can I learn about sibling rivalry from the story of Cain and Abel? As a parent, what might have I said to God if I were asked to sacrifice my child, as Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac? If I was Jacob, would I have tricked my father into giving me a birthright rather than bestowing it on my twin brother? Why or why not?
Clearly, the reading and re-telling of stories creates many questions for thought. Doing so helps us continue to learn and grow as individuals and as a community. Keep reading, keep telling — and don’t be a stranger at this year’s J Book Fair.
Laura Seymour is director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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