The Library Committee continues their new project “Finding Your Jewish Roots.” We are speaking to member of our congregation to share the stories of their ancestors. Where are they from? How did they get here?

Sheryl Ives and Sherry Levitt spoke with Library Committee and Choir member Lynn Zall. Her musical endeavors are no surprise…that kind of talent seems to run in the family!


Lynn and Mike Zall have been members of our congregation for decades. Lynn’s story of how she came to BHSS goes all the way back to how her mother came to America. Lynn’s grandmother Mitzi came to the US with her daughter Edith, in September of 1939. Mitzi’s husband, Leo, had a Polish passport and could not leave Europe. Mitzi and Edith had Austrian passports and were able to depart for the United States from Antwerp, Belgium. Two years later Leo finally made it to the United States.

Mitzi and Edith had an address for relatives living in the Bronx. When they arrived in New York City they were told what train to take to get to the address in the Bronx. They accomplished this without knowing any English! The very next day Edith’s cousin, with whom she was now living, took Edith to the Tremont Temple to junior choir practice. At the choir practice, 14-year-old Edith noticed a young boy who seemed to attract the attention of the other teenagers. When he spoke, the other kids laughed. Edith assumed that he was funny. Though there was a language barrier, they started dating. Edith was a classically trained pianist and the young man, Irving played the organ, accordion and piano. Irving was planning to go to Music and Art high school and Edith the same. They were both accepted and they dated throughout high school.

After graduation in 1944, Irving was drafted. He returned from Europe in 1946, and Edith and Irving were married. They lived with his parents for 4 years. Lynn was born 9 1/2 months after the wedding. Irving was the organist at the Tremont Temple and Lynn sang in the children’s choir.

Irving was a professional musician. He played piano and accordion for weddings and bar mitzvahs. He also gave piano lessons. Lynn’s mom went to Parson’s School of Design and she became an interior designer. She had her own business in New York City and the surrounding suburbs.

In 1968 Lynn filled out an application for “Meet a Mate”. Mike also filled out an application for “Meet a Mate”. There was no computer dating in those days. Lynn and Mike were matched, and two years later they were married. Mike was a chemical engineer when he decided to change careers. He entered law school, and he is now a lawyer.

Lynn and Mike lived in Manhattan and then moved to Philadelphia for Mike’s first job as a lawyer. Their daughter Rebecca was born in Philadelphia. Their son Jeremy was born in Westchester. The four members of the Zall family moved to a beautiful home in Suffern decorated by Lynn’s mom.

Soon after their move to Suffern, Lynn joined ORT and at one of the meetings Rabbi Elise Frishman spoke about, “how to deal with your children at Christmas”. Lynn was impressed with Rabbi Frishman and Lynn and Mike joined the Reform Temple of Suffern (RTOS-Shir Shalom). When RTOS-Shir Shalom merged with Beth Haverim they came to Mahwah with the merger, and have been members of BHSS ever since. Lynn is on our Library Committee, and also sings in the choir.

In 2016 Lynn and Mike went to Europe, including Vienna and Austria. Lynn’s mom had drawn a map for them to follow to get to her apartment building. The map was absolutely accurate. They went into the lobby of the building and they said it must have been beautiful when her mom and her grandparents lived there.


The Library Ladies would like to share their favorite books, all available from the Sifriyah.

The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones. Hanna would do anything to prevent the destruction of art. Did that mean collaboration with the Nazis during WWII? Art detective Lauren O’Farrell is determined to find out. Her journey to discover and retrieve art stolen by the Nazis leads to her search of the apartment of Isabella Fletcher, whose mother, Hanna, was rumored to be a collaborator. Read this historical fiction with its unique twists and turns and perhaps learn about art in Germany during this time. For all of you who have read a lot about the Holocaust, this novel, based on true stories, provides a unique eye into this period of history, not one usually discussed and not one emphasizing physical abuse.

A best-selling author (Kristin Hannah)  wrote an extraordinary historical fiction, The Nightingale. Her opening lines are “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine; it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”  These opening sentences really summarize the novel, the story of 2 sisters, very different, living in France under the thumb of Nazi occupation.  Each sister must make horrendous choices.  This book sits in our library.  Grab it.

Jephte’s Daughter, by Naomi Ragen. A secret vow made years ago becomes the backdrop for confrontation in the ultra-Orthodox world of arranged marriages and honoring thy father. In gratitude that the 300-year-old Chasidic dynasty survived the Holocaust, a wealthy businessman makes a solemn vow to God: that his only child, beautiful Batsheva, will carry on the lineage through an arranged marriage to an ultra-Orthodox Talmudic scholar. Batsheva is torn between her own desires and honoring her father. But all is not what it seems. Rigidity, piety, abuse, fanaticism all make for an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of the Orthodox world.

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume is a moving story of three generations of families, friends and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by unexpected events.  Set in the early 1950s in Elizabeth, New Jersey, this book is full of memorable characters, especially Uncle Henry who is much more than an uncle to Miri. He is her hero.

The Library Ladies recommend City of Thieves, by David Benioff. From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival — and a remarkable friendship. During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

The Bus On Jaffa Road: A Story of Middle East Terrorism and the Search for Justice, by Mike Kelly. After their children are killed in a terrorist bombing, three American families attempt to find out who was responsible. After winning a judgment in a U.S. court, the families encountered an unforeseen enemy – their own government.


If you would like to know more about this committee or would like to get involved,  contact co-chair Jane Simon or co-chair Ruth Turner.