Edit ModuleShow Tags

Repairing the world

Preschool dedicates library to Khalid Jabara

Khalid Jabara Tikkun Olam Library at B’nai Emunah Preschool

Greg Bollinger

The Khalid Jabara Tikkun Olam Memorial Library will open to the public on September 7 in the B’Nai Emunah Synagogue Preschool.

The library was dedicated on July 7, which would have been the 38th birthday of Khalid Jabara, a Lebanese Christian man who was shot and killed outside his south Tulsa home in August 2016, in an incident classified as an Islamophobic hate crime.

Caitlyn Wright and Toni Willis, two teachers at the preschool where Jabara’s niece attends, coordinated and curated the library after a December fundraising effort and months of deliberation.

The books were donated by members of the preschool community, the Tulsa community, members of the Jabara family, and people on social media.

“We created an Amazon wish list,” Wright said. “The first draft had around 80 books on it.”

Within two hours of posting the wish list on Facebook, all 80 books had been donated.

“It was pretty remarkable,” Wright said, motioning at the shelves. “We were like, okay, this is real. This is

After adding to the wish list and sharing more extensively on social media, Wright and Willis received over 600 books.

One such book is “Skin Again” by feminist cultural critic bell hooks. “The skin I’m in,” hooks writes, “is just a covering. If you want to know who I am / you have got to come inside / and open your heart way wide.”

Another is “A is for Activist” by Innosanto Nagara, author of multiple social change books for children. In it, F is for “Feminist” and D is for “Democracy.” Later on, “X is for Malcolm, as in Malcolm X. History’s lessons can be complex.”

“Whoever You Are,” by Mem Fox, author of over 30 books for children, reads, “Little one, whoever you are, wherever you are, there are little ones just like you, all over the world. Their skin may be different from yours, and their homes may be different from yours.” But later on, Fox tells us, “Their smiles are like yours, and they laugh just like you.”

Part of the library’s name, Tikkun Olam, is a concept in Judaism found in the Mishnah, the first major work of Jewish law.

“It expresses our obligation to repair the world,” Wright said. “And that is something that we speak to in all that we do here.”

On September 7, the Khalid Jabara Tikkun Olam Memorial Library will hold its first public story hour, “Social Justice Superheroes,” at 5:30 p.m. Stories will be geared towards ages seven and younger, but all are welcome to attend.

“Children have all the tools to be powerful agents of change,” Wright said. “They are already. And equipping them with the language of equality and diversity at an early age sets them on a powerful path.”

For more from Zack, read his article on Tulsa’s fascination with James Joyce.