Stuck on Fahrenheit 451

Our community is growing!

Compared to the 10 or so families that arrived to rejuvenate the kibbutz in 2009, we’re now nearly 80!

That’s a growth of 700%!!

The old dining hall has been renovated into a social hall.

Our synagogue will be expanded imminently to accommodate our growing numbers.

And our preschools are overflowing with children.

Last week, the library committee announced that it was looking for volunteers to help transport its books to the library’s new and expanded location.

Our original library (which formed a few years ago and was about the size of my small kitchen), held the space for about 15 young children (if that) to be able to sit together, squeezed in tightly, during the weekly story hour.

It was not comfortable to say the least.

But, no one complained.

We were happy just to have a library!

But now, with the newly renovated social hall, our library will have a new home.

Two nicely-sized rooms, one for adults and the other for children and youth.

I was so excited to hear about this development!

So my husband and I showed up, along with many other volunteers, to help out that evening.

I thought we were going to be asked to shelve the books.

But, instead we were asked to sift through the books that were sitting in dozens of boxes on the floor and determine which ones should be kept and which ones should be tossed.

Huh?

Tossed?

What was going on here?

Why would the library committee choose to toss books?

Well, apparently our library accumulated over the past few years many book donations to a point that we have way too many books for the (still relatively small) space we have.

And now, books are going to have to be tossed.

Oy!

I stood there for a few minutes with a sense of dismay watching folks toss books into cardboard boxes.

Sure, there were books with ripped covers and books with some scribbles in it, but to toss them away?

I couldn’t watch this.

How could we, the People of the Book, toss books away?

And, as a soon-to-be-author, it was pulling at my heart.

To me, throwing away books is like throwing away lives.

With just a simple and mindless flick of the wrist.

Is this any worse than Fahrenheit 451, I thought to myself?

I couldn’t handle it.

I couldn’t be a part of this.

So, I chose not to be.

I picked up a broom and started sweeping instead.

Just to keep myself busy.

Because that’s why I was there.

To help.

And I wasn’t doing much of anything else anyway.

And, as I was sweeping, I heard one of the rabbis ask, “Anyone want this beautiful Pirkei Avot book in English?”

“Uh, yeah? Me? The library is not keeping this one?”

“No. No holy books.”

“OK, sure.”

Then, my husband came up to me and showed me a collection of books on CDs and a couple of DVDs that were also apparently chosen not to be kept.

“Wanna take these home?”

booksAnd I soon realized that the books that were going to be tossed, weren’t necessarily going to be thrown out to the garbage right away, but rather they were going to be left for people in our community to take as they wish.

After which, they would be dumped.

But, they still had a chance to live.

To survive.

And that was something I could accept.

Free books!

So, I put down the broom and starting sifting through the books with everyone else.

Shelving the still-in-good-condition ones.

Placing the others into the boxes.

By the end of the night, my husband and I had a tall collection of books, CDs and DVDs to take home.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, I guess.

I initially held a belief that all those tossed books were going to be thoughtlessly thrown to the dump.

But, my belief was wrong.

And the truth was, there was another plan that I hadn’t known.

That the library committee didn’t really have much choice in the matter.

That there really is only a limited amount of space that they can work with.

And they were doing their best to get the library moved into its new location so that the community members could take pleasure in it again.

I got stuck on being judgmental, but it’s OK.

I realized that looks can be deceiving.

And that perhaps one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

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2 Responses to Stuck on Fahrenheit 451

  1. feistyfroggy December 28, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    Great post!

  2. Shira Taylor Gura December 28, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

    Thank you!