Readers of this paper may recall a Herculean task taken on by Norm and Isabella Chapman three years ago. Returning to the Seattle area from a Federation-sponsored mission to Israel, they resolved to collect 25,000 books for children in the schools of Kiryat Malachi and the Hof Ashkelon region. Home to Israel’s poorest immigrants, the region is now absorbing many former residents of Gaza.
Most Israelis want or need to learn English, but the Chapmans found these schools lacked the most basic teaching tools — books.
The drive is almost finished, with over 23,300 books collected.
“We’ve shipped over 300 boxes weighing five-and-a-half tons,” Norm says, relating that Isabella alone has been responsible for 4,000 of those books from garage sales, thrift and used book stores.
The Chapmans need “gently used” books for elementary-aged readers, especially picture books. Books with slightly higher reading levels are needed for teens, but with appropriate subject matter (teenagers don’t want to read about Mrs. Piggly Wiggly, for example). They collect unused coloring books, puzzles under 500 pieces, gently used digital cameras and tape recorders and tapes, as well.
Almost all local synagogues and both Tree of Life stores have collection boxes, and many local students are collecting books for their B’nai Mitzvah projects (including Temple De Hirsch Sinai’s current sixth and seventh grades).
The Chapmans have been ably assisted in their endeavor by Dina Tanners, a former ESL teacher now working at Tree of Life, who calls Chapman “a local mitzvah hero.” Dina chairs the Israeli Partnership 2000 committee of the Federation and has visited the schools where the books go. Her background and knowledge of Hebrew has helped pinpoint the kinds of books that are needed.
“My life since retirement from Microsoft has been devoted to educating our children in Israel and in Seattle,” says Norm, who is treasurer of the Jewish Day School “with 280 kids who are my surrogate grandchildren.”
Chapman also serves on the board of the Weizmann Institute of Science, a medical research facility in Israel. A former resident of Baton Rouge, La., he has been involved in helping that city’s Jewish Federation with the needs of the approximately 1,000 members of New Orleans’ Jewish community who have settled there — some of them permanently.
“My wife keeps asking me when I’m going to re-retire,” he quips.
For more information, or if you have a donation you need picked up, contact Norm at 425-649-8553 or Norm@Cadenza.com.
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Steve Steinberg is probably the envy of many American men. Ensconced in his office in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, he has the luxury of thinking, reading and writing about baseball to his heart’s content.
The author of numerous articles and a new baseball history book, Steinberg fell into this second career after he sold the family’s 80-year-old retail clothing chain and found himself with time on his hands.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says, “to be able to ask ‘what was I meant to do?’
“I had hardly read a book while working,” Steve explains. With time for books, he gravitated toward baseball biographies.
“I stumbled upon one ballplayer who intrigued me,” he says, named Urban Shocker. (He’s grown so attached to this player — the subject of a book in progress — that he carries Shocker’s photo in his wallet.)
Shocker started out in St. Louis, but ended up on the Yankees, on the famous 1927 roster. He was a star, but died prematurely of a mitral valve defect — something easily corrected by surgery today.
This interest in Shocker provided an entrée to the “Dead Ball” era, 1901-1925, a pre-Babe Ruth time of low-scoring games and the birth of the American League, which has become Steinberg’s area of expertise. Most of his writing concerns the players and teams of that time, with a focus on St. Louis, the subject of his book, Baseball in St. Louis 1900-1925, published this year by Arcadia.
He has also published articles in the Yankees’ team yearbook (’05 and forthcoming in ’06) and magazine, as well as in the Society for American Baseball Research journal, The National Pastime (look for the national SABR conference in Seattle in June 2006 with keynote speaker, Jim Bouton).
“All the people I write about have been totally forgotten,” he says. “What I love is to bring back the past and make them come alive,” adding that there is “a powerful spiritual aspect” to creating this connection.
Growing up in Seattle, where his parents Irene and Sheldon still live, he attended the Seattle Hebrew School (now Academy) and graduated from the University of Washington in 1972, spending two of his college years in Israel. He lives in the Montlake neighborhood with his wife, Colleen and their kids, Brian (who’s at Johns Hopkins), Mathew and Allison. They belong to Temple B’nai Torah.
For more information, visit Steve’s Web site, www.stevesteinberg.net. You can find his book at Elliott Bay and Third Place Books and on Amazon, or purchase it through the web site, giving Steve the chance to autograph your copy.