Our Values, Our Libraries

Because of an accumulated debt of NIS 7 million, the city library has shuttered its doors. Of all places, in Kiryat Shmona, of all times, during Hebrew Book Week.

Perhaps the book chains, Steimatzky or Tzomet Sfarim, will adopt the library, and out of their profits pay the seven librarians sharing three positions, and thus leave a bookmark among the pages of the city? The major publishers are also hereby invited to take part in the good deed.

On Sunday I went back to Kiryat Shmona. I had been invited to talk to the principals of the local schools. I also had a chance to chat with other residents, some of them long-time acquaintences. They all had the impression that the government had forgotten their city, that it had gone back to being just like any city, which it is not as yet.

It was as if they had all discussed the idea they revealed to me: If only a Katyusha would fall on the city - let no one be harmed, but it would bring us again to the top of the list of concerns.

I told them that it is not enough just to look toward the ministers for help, because it won't come quickly. They should make life more difficult for the local leaders. Even when cuts are being made, some things shouldn't be touched. Would the city agree to close a synagogue - one of many, while there is only a single library? In a place where books and computers are locked up, so are the minds of adults and opportunities for children.

The authority of the liquidator ends the moment he touches intellectual assets, and goes to the local elected leadership. We would also expect the court to show more understanding and sensitivity to this important principle.

Money is always found for the contractor, the ritual bath attendant, the cantor and the undertaker. Only the librarian remains, with his minimum wage unfunded.

We discussed education - how to inculcate values, whether schools can still do so. It's getting more difficult, we said to ourselves, but we have to keep trying. Our children notice double values, and there is nothing worse to teach than that.

The author Sami Michael said he would be standing in Rabin Square today at the book fair with a sign against the "racist fence in Immanuel and against racism in general in Israeli society." We should join him, stand with him, and add a sign: We are against closing libraries, especially in outlying areas. These two injustices are connected to the "people of the book" as a concept and not just as a display, all the more so during Book Week.