Meet Cassy Sachar, LBC’s Senior Librarian

The Library is a place for reading, writing, and research, for thinking, dreaming and debate, for questions and conversation. It is where students,faculty, rabbis and researchers engage with each other, surrounded by the voices, past and present, of Jewish tradition and scholarship. 

Our extraordinary collections have been shaped by the rabbis, teachers and scholars who have been involved with the College over many years. The many significant donations and bequests we have received have helped to sustain the breadth and depth of our holdings.

On our shelves you might find Rabbi Dr Leo Baeck’s Rosh Hashanah Machzor or Rabbi Lionel Blue’s collection of Catholic jokes; volumes of rabbinic commentary that survived the Holocaust or contemporary Jewish fiction any book club would enjoy; translations of the Talmud into French or guidance on supporting the bereaved; ideas for teaching or manuals for community activism and much, much more.

Our aim is to support our rabbis and educators through their studies and their professional lives, whether they are looking for a fact, a commentary, an idea or inspiration; to support our faculty in their teaching and research; to engage with scholars working in Jewish studies and wider disciplines and connect with our communities and congregations to support and strengthen their engagement with Jewish life.

As the senior librarian, and relative newcomer to the college, managing the library has been a fascinating voyage of discovery, as there are treasures at every turn. It is a great joy to be able to share our wonderful collections with members and visitors and my list of favourites keeps growing: from the beauty of our 16th century Rabbinic Bible to moving wartime pamphlets. 

There are challenges too: as the library grows the pressure on space to preserve our collections for future generations and for our members to use the library comfortably and meaningfully increases. The possibilities and potential for the future of the library are exciting and it is wonderful to work with members and stakeholders who share my enthusiasm for making our wonderful library even better.

If you are interested in finding out more about the library, visiting or becoming a member please contact cassy.sachar@lbc.ac.uk 

A Day in the Life of a Student Rabbi

David-Yehuda Stern

The life afforded to the rabbinical student by Leo Baeck College is indeed a privileged one. Only a lucky few can dedicate such attention to something they care so deeply about and believe in so strongly that is so vitally important in today’s world.

No single rabbinical student experiences their time at the college in the same way. I have been asked to tell you about A day in the life of a student rabbi; but what follows is deeply biographical and is rooted in my own convictions of what a rabbi should and should not be.

I am 33 years old, married with two children and I live in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. I like reading books about space travel, hosting people for Shabbat meals (and tea), and four days a week I am privileged to be surrounded by mentors and colleagues who share my passion for progressive Judaism. How lucky am I!

When I first applied to the college at the end of 2016, we were asked to consider this very question: What role/roles do you see a rabbi playing today? At that time I wrote of a rabbi as a “guide” and as a “community creator, seeking to bring people together.” Whilst I still believe this to be the case, my time at the college has emphasised the centrality of the community, rather than that of the rabbi. Or to put it another way, the college’s emphasis on the rabbi as a guiding partner.

I also wrote that a rabbi “needs to facilitate a conversation between our powerful traditions and teachings and the ever evolving ideas and social change of the modern world.” A significant part of our weekly study is spent immersed in Biblical and Rabbinical text and there is a strong emphasis on reading and comprehension of these texts in their original languages. But of equal importance is the placing of these texts in the language of contemporary issues facing individuals, communities and the wider world. The topics addressed during my time at the college so far have included: forgiveness, tefilah (prayer), human relationships, and theology. These issues, I believe, speak to the heart of human existence.

There is still much to learn and I wish to thank you personally for making my studies possible.