Dan Sharon served for over 35 years- from 1971 to 2008-as Senior Reference Librarian of the Asher Library at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. He died on June 22 at the age of 77.
Sharon "touched the lives of many students and researchers," recalled Kathy Bloch, the Library's collection manager. "Dan was widely read, and an endless source of information on all aspects of Jewish religion, history, and culture. Dan took great joy in sharing his knowledge with others."
In a 1995 Chicago Tribune profile on Sharon, library director Michael Terry called Sharon "a treasure," adding "at a time when information is becoming standardized through technology, he provides it in a very personal way."
"I try to show [callers] the different points of view within Judaism," Sharon once said. "There are many currents of thought within the Jewish world today."
Sharon fielded questions on Jewish topics from the Spertus staff and faculty, the local Jewish community, and the general public around the country. He estimated that he received 20-30 questions a day, once as many as 80.
Over the years, Sharon answered questions from students, congregations, and the Israeli consulate. He helped a priest start to learn Hebrew, shared a Jewish prayer recording with Protestant divinity school employee, and directed a Pakistani Muslim person to a translation of the Talmud.
Robbin Katzin, now the librarian at Hillel Torah Day School, worked with Sharon for a decade. "Dan is in the acknowledgements of so many books," she said. When Sharon was asked a question, she remembered: "He would answer to the best of his ability, but follow up even a month later if he found more relevant information. He even did this with some questions he'd received before he retired. He was like a bird dog."
Despite his reputation, he admitted he was "regularly stumped…you learn how much you don't know."
After retiring, Sharon joined the board of directors of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society. After Sharon's passing, the Society's president, Walter Roth, wrote in its newsletter: "A student of history as well as library science, Dan was my most dependable resource…"
Sharon was raised in "an intensely Jewish home," according to the Chicago Tribune, by parents who imbued him with "a love for Jewish history, the Bible, the Hebrew language, and Jewish culture." They had met in pre-state Israel.
Sharon was born in Louisville and lived in St. Louis and New York City before settling in Chicago.
He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Roosevelt University. While in graduate school, he also substitute-taught high school history in public school and secular subjects to Bais Yaakov Hebrew Parochial School, earning his teaching certificate. Sharon then switched his focus to library science, receiving his master's degree from Rosary College in 1971.
Spertus' library hired him that same year.
Sharon was the son of the late Moshe and Rachel Sharon. He was the brother of Timna Liberman, and uncle to Michale Wacks, Elana Chaya, and Akiva Liberman. Funeral arrangements were made by Mitzvah Memorial Funerals.