I only recently noticed that the children’s section of my local Northeast Seattle Public Library branch was designated the “Jodi Green and Mike Halperin Children’s Area.”
My curiosity piqued, I tracked down Jodi who says she and Mike “love words, books and a lifelong pursuit of learning,” calling themselves “library groupies” who visit libraries wherever they are.
“I’ve always been a very strong believer and supporter of public libraries,” she told me, as “a free community resource offering a quiet place for the pursuit of knowledge where everyone is welcomed equally.” So when the Libraries for All campaign was underway in the late 1990s, she and Mike were asked to make a donation.
“We ended up doubling our gift,” says Jodi. To acknowledge it, the library put their names on a space of their choosing. (Jodi thinks their names are a tad large, but I had never noticed them before last month.)
They were living on Capitol Hill at the time, but the couple chose to be honored at the Northeast branch which they frequented when their kids were little. Those kids are now in high school and college, but Jodi says she “still brings home library books for the entire family.”
An “equal opportunity library visitor,” Jodi checks out books from branches around the city, whichever is closest. “I’m a totally wanna-be librarian,” she adds.
Currently she’s reading the Steve Jobs biography and Mike is reading a book about the Norwegian explorer, Nansen.
Growing up in Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., Jodi was a regular at the Kingsbay Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Mike grew up in North Seattle, went to Nathan Hale High School, and the couple met at Brown. After he decided to finish college at the University of Washington, she “followed him out here.”
The couple are active volunteers. Jodi serves on Seattle Public Library Foundation, University of Washington Foundation and Seattle Parks Foundation boards. Mike sits on the boards of Seattle JazzED, an after school community jazz education program, and is president of the board of Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences.
They agree that Andrew Carnegie’s words really explain their feelings about libraries: “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”
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Kayla Levin Braverman collected pajamas for New Beginnings homeless shelter for her Bat Mitzvah mitzvah project. Her project is featured in “The Mitzvah Project Book,” which came out last year. (Photo by Elizabeth Braverman)
As the title suggests, Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman, authors of The Mitzvah Project Book: Making Mitzvah Part of Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah...and Your Life, want to help kids put the “mitzvah” into their B’nai Mitzvah. The book offers practical ideas with real-life examples, which Diane told me they gathered through contact with rabbis, Jewish educators, family, and friends around the country.
A few kids from Seattle’s Congregation Beth Shalom, all of who attended the Seattle Jewish Community School, have projects in the book.
Beth Shalom doesn’t require kids to do a mitzvah project says Elizabeth Braverman, mom of Kayla Levin Braverman (p. 24) — it’s more of a tradition. Kayla collected new and gently used PJs to donate to New Beginnings homeless shelter, inspired by a talk that tzedakah maven Danny Siegel gave at her school.
Sophie Rittenberg (p. 141) also tied her project to homelessness, inspired by her Torah portion Lech Lecha, in which Sarai and Avram are told by God to leave their home. She tried, says her mom Elizabeth Davis, to imagine what it would be like for children to suddenly become homeless, and decided they might lack school supplies. She collected those for students of First Place School, which provides education and “wrap-around” social services for families in crisis.
A spaghetti feed for 118 was how Justin Coskey (p. 41) chose to support MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “That day my mother, sister and I boiled 32 pounds of pasta, warmed 15 loaves of garlic bread, mixed six tubs of salad, and baked over 200 cookies,” wrote Justin in a 2010 issue of his congregation’s newsletter. He raised over $2,000.
“I had hoped to raise $500,” he added in an email. The money helped victims of the Haitian earthquake, which happened shortly before the dinner.