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If you are an author, editor, or publisher of Jewish books for children  or teens, please submit your 2010 titles for consideration. Click here for submission instructions, or e-mail Chair@SydneyTaylorBookAward.org for full details.
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The AJL Convention will take place at Seattle's Fairmont Olympic Hotel. We spoke to Conference Services Manager Sarah Carter to find out what's in store for convention attendees.

Sarah, please tell us a little about the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel was the original site of the University of Washington, dated all the way back to 1861. Once converted into the “Grand Dame” hotel that it is now considered, in 1924, the property began hosting some of the Pacific Northwest’s most celebrated events. The Olympic boasts 450 rooms including 219 Suites and 2 Presidential Suites; a full service health club including indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, work out arena and saunas; as well as over 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The Olympic has hosted Kings and Queens of over a dozen countries, celebrities of every art form and 8 different U.S. Presidents.

What makes the Fairmont the perfect place for a Jewish library convention?

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel has a long standing tradition of catering events specifically to the customers needs and preferences. One of our proudest features is our Kosher kitchen and our Kosher Catering process that has been in place since 1984. Carving out an entire sector of our kitchen and dedicating it to Kosher preparation and ensuring all staff have undergone proper training and education has made The Olympic the only high-end Kosher Catering company in the Seattle area.

Can you give us any insider tips about the hotel? What should convention attendees be sure not to miss?

Guests of The Fairmont Olympic are entitled to a plethora of amenities on site to help make their stay most enjoyable. For the active guest, our full service health club is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, a full length indoor swimming pool, free weights and yoga balls. Be sure to check out to sign up for our Fairmont Presidents Club membership (www.fairmont.com/fpc) which is a free rewards program that grants you access to complimentary Addias sports attire rentals during your stay!

Happy hour is the best hour here at The Olympic. Both Shuckers and The Terrace Lounge have delicious small plates and drink specials that are sure to wet your appetite in the afternoon. Try the Halibut ‘n Chips or $1 oysters on the half-shell in Shuckers or the all-you-can-eat cheese platter for $12 in The Terrace. Bon appetit!

What’s a highlight of the neighborhood around the hotel?

The hotel is situated in the heart of downtown Seattle in what is known as the Financial District. Just a few short blocks from the famous landmark, Pike Place Market, guests of The Olympic and locals alike love strolling through its stalls browsing all the local farmers and crafts. The renowned 5th Avenue Musical Theatre is located across the street from the hotel, entertaining the masses with some of Broadway’s biggest hits. Guests enjoy shopping at Westlake Center and Pacific Place where entertainment, dining and fashionable boutiques collide. If its adventure you are looking for, Mount Rainer is a beautiful drive away for hiking and picnicking. South Lake Union, Lake Washington and Puget Sound all offer gorgeous views, pristine parks, boat tours and fishing escapes as well. There is truly something for everyone.

Be sure to stop by our Concierge Desk and chat with one of our agents to learn more about what Seattle has to offer you!

For you, what’s the best thing about Seattle?

To me, the best thing about Seattle is the abundance of nature so close to the city. The amazing views of the Olympic mountain range, Cascade Mountain range, Mount Rainier, Lake Washington, the Puget Sound and its many islands all surround the city with such beauty! Boat cruise and hiking are among my favorite activities. My second favorite thing about Seattle is the friendliness. The people are friendly- they wave when you let their car merge into your lane, they say excuse me when they walk too close. Seattle with its natural beauty and friendliness is a place I am proud to call home!

Can you tell us about any of your own favorite books or authors?

One of my favorite writers is actually a husband & wife team that writes historical fiction. Their names are Bodie and Brocke Thoene and I believe they are actually Christian writers, but a few of their series have focused strongly on Jewish history during World War II and during the early years of Israel. The series I have read include: The Zion Chronicles, The Zion Legacy and The Zion Covenant, each with 5 or more books. These books are educational, as they are based on true events, yet they are also fun to read as they include adventure, romance and relationships that draw the reader in.

Sarah, thanks for giving us this taste of the The Olympic! We're all looking forward to staying with you.

We are so excited here at The Olympic to welcome AJL for the conference in July. We truly hope that each guest leaves with a wonderful memory of our hotel and great city!


Enter the Mention Convention weekly drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card by linking back to this interview on your blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter (hashtag #AJL10) — just email pr@jewishlibraries.org to tell us what you did!

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[caption id="attachment_237" align="alignleft" width="140" caption="Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty, by Raymond Bial"]

Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty, by Raymond Bial. Published 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty is a fine, straightforward account of the history behind one of America's most famous landmarks, Ellis Island, and the many people from all over the world who passed through its gates.

Illustrated throughout by photographs of archival material and modern-day buildings, the book begins with the famous poem by Emma Lazarus (see last week's Nonfiction Monday for a lovely picture book about Lazarus) and takes the reader, immigrant's-eye style, through the process of entering the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Author Raymond Bial, a photographer and prolific author, covers such topics as the "buttonhook test" for disease and others in an authoritative yet accessible style.

Readers see passports used by immigrants, exhibits of clothing and personal effects- even a mattress slept on by children in steerage class. Bial also talks about the "nativist" anti-immigration movement and other trends in American politics that affected how immigrants were viewed and treated. In the end, Bial quotes Harry Truman's statements reinforcing the benefit to the nation of accepting people "from every race and from every quarter of the world.

Ellis Island is  inspiring and informative look at an important chapter in American history.

Nonfiction Monday is a moving meme headquartered at Picture Book of the Day and hosted this week at 100 Scope Notes.
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Here are this week's links on Jewish books, reading, writing and libraries.

From the KarBen blog, Books Bring Shavuot into Your Home

From the New York Jewish Week, The Case for a Jewish Snopes

From The Forward, Becoming the People of the Pixel?

For the holiday of Shavuot, there are two great link roundups, one at The Jewish Book Council and one at the Jewish Women's Archive.

Got a link about Jewish books you'd like me to see?  Email me at mcloutier at jewishlibraries.org. Have a great week!
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On the last day of National Poetry Month, I have for you today an interview with Boston-area poet Ellen Steinbaum, Pushcart-nominated author of Container Gardening and Afterwords.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? Who or what influences your work? What poets do you love to read?
I have always been a writer. As a child I wrote a family newspaper (which was a little pathetic since I was an only child, so there wasn't much news, but I persisted). For much of my life I wrote magazine and newspaper articles and then later found myself drawn to the idea of what I could do with poetry that I couldn't do with prose.
Influences include my teacher, Ottone Riccio, and contemporary poets like Linda Pastan, Gail Mazur, Ruth Stone, Marie Ponsot, and Dorianne Laux who combine "the materials at hand"--details of daily life--with careful craft.

I also love the work of Galway Kinnell, W.S. Merwin, and Richard Wilbur who does rhyme so elegantly that it looks effortless. Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman--two very different poets whose work intrigues me. And the sound of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems is so wonderful. Keats...Mark Doty...Wislawa Szymborska...Edward Hirsch. Yeats. Yehuda Amichai. Octavio Paz. So many--depends whose work I've read most recently. And two friends whose poetry I greatly admire and enjoy, Susan Donnelly and Patricia Smith.

2. What is your approach to or style of poetry? Do you think it's important to have a style or define yourself within a movement? Does it limit or expand what you can do?
Obviously, when you write poetry you're going to be aware of what other poets are doing and of the long tradition you are part of. But my concern is more on doing my own work than on figuring out where I fit in. I'm just concentrating on writing in an authentic voice and trying to make it as clear and true and precise as I can.

One thing I do want to mention is what I visualize as almost the collaboration between poet and reader. I know there are poets who feel that the poem exists only as they intend it to, but I don't entirely. I believe the poet has his or her intentions, but readers come to the poem with their own set of attitudes and experiences and so what the poem is varies a little from reader to reader. It becomes at some level a combination of the original intent and the received thing.

It's a huge gift to a poet to have readers willing to bring themselves fully and respectfully to the work. It's humbling. I am always grateful when readers tell me that my work has meant something to them.
3. Onto the poems themselves, which I loved. My favorite poem in Container Gardening is probably "Gathering," about using shells collected by speaker's aunt to mark her grave. Can you talk about some of the themes in this lovely poem?

Thank you! I am writing this, actually, on the birthday of that very dear aunt. Primarily what I was thinking about when I wrote that poem was how the small pieces of our lives that, at some point, have real meaning to us, get lost to ourselves and to others. They just melt away, the way we forget where the stones were from. We think we'll never forget this experience, and then we forget, though of course something of it remains with us. And when the stones and shells are someone else's, they show how impossible it is to really know another person's life. No matter how close you are to that person, there are always mysteries.
4. In the first poem, "Standing at the Shore," the moment described- people on the beach, children rooted but striving for freedom- starts as "soft"- "the same soft moment"; later, it's "that messy instant." Why the change? Is the moment soft and messy at the same time?

The softness, I guess, is the light just at dusk, the quiet on the beach, and everyone concentrating on standing there and looking good for the photograph. At least the adults are feeling that. But the children always have another agenda. While the adults are thinking about preserving the moment, the children are busy living it, squeezing the juice out of it.

But I hadn't actually thought about that before. (This is why I knew it would be fun to answer your questions--they make me think of new things about my work and about poetry in general.) What I was thinking about--or at least what I thought I was thinking about when I wrote this was time and impermanence, which is probably what I am often thinking about when I write.
5. In the first part of the book, dominant themes include loss, memory and history, and the poems are deeply personal. In the second, the tone is somewhat more political with mentions of wars, terrorism and allusions to first-world privilege; still, the poems are rooted in day to day life. In the third section, there's a hint of menace as we move from the past through the present and into the future- an idea that the future is a dark place. Can you talk about this progression? Is there optimism as well or is it all bad news?

I didn't think of it as menacing, but rather just as life with its certainty of pleasures and sorrows. When I named the book Container Gardening, I was thinking of how we construct our own little universes to live in. Partly they're private, built out of our own experiences. Partly they are touched by the larger world we live in, and that's where the political poems come in.

But then--and I guess this is that third section--we take those pieces and go forward with our lives into whatever happens next. And we hope that some of what happens will bring us joy. And we know that some of what will happen is bound to bring us sorrow, simply because we are mortal beings connected to other mortal beings. And all we can do, I think, is muddle through the best we can. There's a Jewish saying I read once about the idea that at the end of our days we will be called to account for every fruit we did not taste in its season. That is often in my mind and I hope that's what that third section is about, the sense that with all the certainty of sadness, we still can--must- notice the joy. As the last words of the last poem say, "rest within the wonder/of this gift."

Thank you so much for agreeing to participate! This interview was originally posted at the weblog Boston Bibliophile as a part of the National Poetry Month Blog Tour, hosted at Savvy Verse and Wit.
Visit Ellen at her site, www.EllenSteinbaum.com.
I Love Libraries is ALA's website for the public, designed to keep America informed about what's happening in today's libraries in school, academic, corporate, institutional and other settings. After AJL's recent affiliation with ALA, we were invited to submit an article for the "Library Showcase" section of the I Love Libraries website. You can read the article now at www.ilovelibraries.org/news/libraryshowcase/index.cfm.

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Here's a roundup of some interesting links about Jewish books this week:

Listen to an interview with Zoe Fishman, author of the new novel Balancing Acts, with HarperCollins' Book Club Girl.

Schocken Books announces that Elie Wiesel's A Mad Desire to Dance is now in paperback.

A beautiful review of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's I Asked for Wonder can be found at the Jew Wishes book blog.

Have you been following Tablet Magazine's serialization of Steve Stern's The Frozen Rabbi, forthcoming from Algonquin Books?

On Twitter? The Jewish Book Council is running its third "Twunch and Talk" on April 27 at 1:00 EST. It's going to be a discussion of Dara Horn's All Other Nights.

Got a link about Jewish books you'd like me to see?  Email me at mcloutier at jewishlibraries.org. Have a great week!
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Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah

Nisan 27, 5770 | April 11, 2010


Bogacki, Tomek. THE CHAMPION OF CHILDREN: THE STORY OF JANUSZ KORCZAK. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. 33 pages. ISBN: 978-0-374-34136-7. Elementary. Expressive acrylic illustrations by the author immediately set the tone of this Holocaust biography. Their tone fluctuates to match the mood of the text, which portrays Korczak's life from youth to death, last showing him marching with the orphans he taught to the train that would take them all to their deaths.

De Saix, Deborah Durland; Ruelle, Karen Gray. THE GRAND MOSQUE OF PARIS: A STORY OF HOW MUSLIMS RESCUED JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST. Holiday House, 2009. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8234-2159. Primary, Elementary. This handsomely illustrated book, with paintings in shades of blue, gray, maize and gold, gives an account of how Jewish families, escaping Allied airmen, and various others (some in the Resistance) found respite and shelter in a North African Kabyle mosque in the heart of Paris.

Kacer, Kathy; McKay, Sharon E. WHISPERS FROM THE CAMPS. Penguin Canada, 2009. 151 pages. ISBN: 978-0-14-331252-9 . Middle-School, High-School. As in Whispers from the Ghettos, Kacer and McKay have documented individual true stories from the lives of teenage survivors of the Holocaust. In some cases, the lives of the teens are saved because of their special skills, e.g. knowledge of the German language or the ability to read aircraft blueprints. Many of the stories deal with the arrival at Auschwitz - selection, stripping, hair shearing, cold showers, thin clothing, repeated lineups for counting, etc. - but each is remarkable for being personal and detailed. Also included is a 5-minute play, "The Liberation of Dachau" and a glossary.

Kacer, Kathy; McKay, Sharon E. WHISPERS FROM THE GHETTOS. Penguin Canada, 2009. 162 pages. ISBN: 978-0-14-331251-2. Middle-School, High-School. Original testimonies from survivors of the ghettos record the hardship, terror, and bravery that they experienced as young people during the Holocaust. Twelve accounts of ghetto life are included, showing the role adolescents played in securing food and necessities for their families. Very moving!

Koestler-Grack, Rachel. ELIE WIESEL: WITNESS FOR HUMANITY. Gareth Stevens, 2009. 112 pages. ISBN: 978-14339-0054-9. Middle-School. This biography covers the period from Wiesel's childhood, through his horrific experiences in concentration camps, to his life and career after the Holocaust. Following the narrative there is a conversation with the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about the meaning and message for youngsters of Wiesel's life, plus reference aides.

Metselaar, Menno; van der Rol, Ruud. ANNE FRANK: HER LIFE IN WORDS AND PICTURES. Roaring Brook Press, 2009. 215 pages. ISBN: 978-1-59643-546-9. Elementary, Middle-School, High-School. First published in the Netherlands by the Anne Frank House, this draws on materials from the archives to give a history of the Frank family and their protectors, plus an account of the preserved Annex where the Frank family and others hid. The text is drawn from several sources including some adult books and Anne's diary. The testimony of Rosa de Winter, who was with the three Frank women in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen, is also given. Many photographs of the Frank family accompany the text of a handsome keepsake.


Clark, Kathy . GUARDIAN ANGEL HOUSE. Second Story Press, 2009. 225 pages. ISBN: 978-1-897187-58-6 . Elementary, Middle-School. Guardian Angel House is the nickname given to a convent run by the Sisters of Charity in Budapest that sheltered over 120 Jewish children during World War Two. Told from the point of view of twelve-year-old Susan, this is a story of survival, of growing up without family during childhood and adolescence, of Jewish children living in a protective and loving Catholic environment which is foreign to them, of mutual respect between people of different religions, of a young woman forced to learn courage at an early age. Based on the true story of the author's mother and aunt, it is historical fiction at its best.

Engle, Margarita. TROPICAL SECRETS: HOLOCAUST REFUGEES IN CUBA. Henry Holt, 2009. 208 pages. ISBN: 978-0805089363. Middle-School. A coming-of-age story and an unusual piece of Holocaust history, told in free verse. 13-year old Daniel, a German refugee meets and then befriends a 12 year old Cuban girl after his ship is allowed to dock in Havana. Their story is effectively told in alternating narratives. Winner of the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teens.

Gleitzman, Morris. ONCE. Henry Holt, 2010. 176 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8050-9026-0. Elementary, Middle-School. The narrator is an imaginative and innocent Jewish child being sheltered in a convent. The son of Jewish booksellers, he believes that all of his parents' troubles are because the Nazis don't like Jewish books and want to rid the world of them. When he runs away from the convent in order to find his parents, he finds instead only devastation. Reality slowly dawns as the true horrors of the Holocaust are revealed.

Heuvel, Eric. A FAMILY SECRET. Anne Frank House, 2009. 62 pages. ISBN: 978-0-374-464554. Elementary, Middle-School.

Heuvel, Eric. THE SEARCH. Anne Frank House, 2009. 62 pages. ISBN: 978-0-374-464554. Elementary, Middle-School. Originally published in Dutch in 2007, A Family Secret and its sequel, The Search, tell overlapping stories of ordinary people during World War II. A Family Secret tells the story of Jeroen, a teenage boy, who is looking through his grandmother's attic for items to sell at a yard sale. After he comes across scrapbooks and other artifacts, his grandmother Helena tells him for the first time about her experiences as a young girl in Amsterdam during the German occupation. Her best friend was Esther, a Jewish girl whose family fled from Germany to the Netherlands hoping for safety from the Nazis. When Esther's family is sent to a concentration camp, Helena fears the worst, and assumes that Esther has died along with her parents. Years later, a chance meeting between Jeroen and Esther during a Memorial Day ceremony allows the boy to present his grandmother with her long-lost friend. Dutch artist Eric Heuvel uses pastel colors and a clear line style that has been compared to Tintin comics. The text is simplified for a younger audience. War is not glamorized in any way; neither the Nazis nor the victims are personalized. Because of the lack of violence, these two books would provide a good introduction to the topic for children as young as fifth grade.

Thor, Annika. A FARAWAY ISLAND. Delacorte Press, 2009. ISBN: 978-0385-90590-9. Elementary, Middle-School. The story of two Viennese-Jewish sisters who are sent to safety during the Holocaust to an island off the coast of Sweden. The girls' treatments by their two foster families vary but both try to convert them to Christianity. Hoping to be reunited with their parents soon, the girls' stay lasts indefinitely, and the story explores the emotions of children who endure uncertainty far from home. Translated from the Swedish, this is the first in a series of books about the sisters' life on the island.

Walfish, Miriam. THE STARS WILL GUIDE YOU. Judaica Press, 2009. 320 pages. ISBN: 978-1-60763-016-6. Middle-School, High-School. Rica Levi, 15, and her brother Lelio, 8, are instructed by their widowed father to flee their home in the Rome ghetto in 1943. In the ensuing months and years, they don't know what has happened to him and fear the worst. In four sections, the book describes the children's hiding by Catholics in Narola, Italy; the liberation of Rome by the Allies and their return to find their ransacked and defaced apartment; the search for family after the war; and, finally, their reunion with their father.

Whitney, Kim Ablon. THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 256 pages. ISBN: 978-0-375-85219-0. Elementary, Middle-School. Based upon the true story of the MS St. Louis, the story takes place after Kristallnacht and follows closely the fateful voyage of over 900 passengers who are bound for Cuba. The main character is fifteen-year-old, Thomas, whose father has been sent to Dachau, and whose non-Jewish mother places him on the ship for safety. The ship is eventually turned away at several countries' ports, and forced to return to European cities that will soon fall under Nazi domination. Winner of a 2009 National Jewish Book Award.


Finkelstein, Norman H. REMEMBER NOT TO FORGET: A MEMORY OF THE HOLOCAUST. Illus. by Lars Hokanson and Lois Hokanson. Jewish Publication Society, 2004. 29 pages. ISBN: 0827607709. Primary, Elementary. A straight-forward presentation of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and its aftermath, illustrated with stark black and white pictures. Intended as an introduction for children in grades three through five, it contains background information that is essential for any teaching or understanding of the Holocaust.

Fleischman, Sid. THE ENTERTAINER AND THE DYBBUK. HarperCollins/Greenwillow, 2007. 180 pages. ISBN: 978-0-06-13445-9. Elementary, Middle-School. In post-World War II Europe, a struggling American ventriloquist called The Great Freddie gets an offer of help with his act from a dybbuk, the ghost of a boy who was killed in the Holocaust. The dybbuk speaks for Freddy so that his ineptitude as a ventriloquist isn't visible and in gaining a voice, the dybbuk is able to speak out against the murder of himself and millions of others by the Nazis. Winner of a Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Krinitz, Esther Nisenthal; Steinhardt, Bernice . MEMORIES OF SURVIVAL. Hyperion, 2005. 64 pages. ISBN: 0786851260. Elementary, Middle-School, High-School, Adult. Esther Krinitz survived the Holocaust and lived to raise a family in the United States. Years after the war, she shared her memories with her children by sewing embroidered fabric collages depicting scenes from her early life. Her daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, has taken some of these amazing embroideries, added to the comments written by her mother, and created a book that is outstanding in its immediacy and beauty.

Patz, Nancy . WHO WAS THE WOMAN WHO WORE THE HAT? Dutton, 2003. 40 pages. ISBN: 0525469990. Elementary, Middle-School, High-School, Adult. Inspired by the author-illustrator's reaction to a woman's hat she saw in a glass case in Amsterdam's Jewish Historical Museum, this is a prose poem meditating on the identity of the woman and on her probable fate during the Holocaust. The fate of other Dutch Jews and, indeed, of every human being, is implicated in the text and in the striking illustrations, which consist of somber-toned watercolors, pencil drawings, and old photographs. Winner of a Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Rogasky, Barbara. SMOKE AND ASHES, REVISED AND EXPANDED. Holiday House, 2002. 256 pages. ISBN: 0823416771. Middle-School, High-School. The first edition of this unflinching look at the Holocaust was written in 1988 and represented a significant contribution to books about the Holocaust for young people. Here, much new information has been added: the role of "ordinary" Germans in the Final Solution, the German's attempts to hide their crimes, the Allies' decision not to bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz and more. A chapter called "The Uniqueness of the Holocaust" lists recent atrocities and hate crimes. One of the very best treatments of the Holocaust for young people.

Schmidt, Gary. MARA'S STORIES: GLIMMERS IN THE DARK. Henry Holt, 2001. 152 pages. ISBN: 0805067949. Middle-School, High-School. In the night and fog of a concentration camp, women and children gather at night to listen to stories told by a prisoner named Mara, the daughter of a rabbi. The haunting stories are adapted from Jewish lore and modern Jewish literature.

Weisbarth, Bracha. TO LIVE AND FIGHT ANOTHER DAY: THE STORY OF A JEWISH PARTISAN BOY. Mazo, 2004. 158 pages. ISBN: 9659046235. Middle-School. An exciting novel based on the experiences of the author's family during the Holocaust. The main character is her brother, Benny, who led the family out of the ghetto before a Nazi "Final Aktion" and then into the forests, where they eventually joined partisans fighting the Nazis.

Zusak, Markus. THE BOOK THIEF. Random House, 2006. 553 pages. ISBN: 0-375-83100-2. High-School, Adult. Death is the omnipresent commentator in this compelling novel set in Germany during World War II. Genial as he muses on human existence, Death is sometimes frightened at the extent of human cruelty. Germany under Hitler was the epicenter of cruelty, as shown through several years in the life of a German child, the "book thief," her foster family, friends, and the town near Munich where she lives. These "good German" characters are earthy, flawed, and unforgettable. And while Death (always) has the final word, it is to say "I am haunted by humans." For high school and up and not to be missed! Winner of a Sydney Taylor Book Award.

For more titles about the Holocaust and World War II, visit the Jewish Valuesfinder at www.ajljewishvalues.org.

Linda R. Silver
April 2010
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Titles reviewed in AJL's Jewish ValuesFinder, selected by editor Linda Silver.


Balsley, Tilda. LET MY PEOPLE GO! Illus. by Ilene Richard. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2008. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-7241-1. Preschool, PrimaryColorful, cartoon-like pictures and a humorous rhyming text tell the story of Passover and the Ten Plagues through the use of five roles: the Narrator, Moses, Pharaoh, the Egyptians and the Chorus. Each role is printed in a different color, so the story could be acted out as Readers Theater at Seders, and could also be used in classroom or library presentations.

Cohen, Deborah Bodin. NACHSHON, WHO WAS AFRAID TO SWIM: A PASSOVER STORY. Illus. by Jago. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2009. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-8764-4. Preschool, PrimaryYoung Nachshon is known among his fellow Hebrew slaves as brave about everything except water. When Moses confronts Pharaoh and then leads the Jews out of Egypt, Nachshon overcomes his fear of water and is the first to walk into the Red Sea. This story about courage is illustrated handsomely in rich, glowing colors and with angular shapes that evoke a desert setting.

Fireside, Bryna J. PRIVATE JOEL AND THE SEWELL MOUNTAIN SEDER. Illus. by Shawn Costello. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2008. 48 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-7240-4. Primary, ElementaryBryna Fireside has transformed a true account of a Seder held by Union soldiers during the Civil War into an easy-reading and appealing story in which three former slaves who are also soldiers in the Ohio 23rd join the twenty-one Jewish soldiers and their commander, William S. Rosecrans, in preparing for and then celebrating their Seder. As the preparations ensue and the Seder begins, Passover's blessings, symbols, and meaning are extended to include the experiences of the African-American soldiers and their hope for freedom. Attractive, heavily-textured, full-color paintings adorn the story, written in a light, lively style and divided into short chapters.

Kimmelman, Leslie . THE LITTLE RED HEN AND THE PASSOVER MATZAH. Illus. by Paul Meisel. Holiday House, 2010. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8234-1952-4. Preschool, PrimaryThis Yiddish-inflected Passover version of the Little Red Hen nursery tale couldn't be more fun! Those no-goodniks sheep, horse, and dog don't have a moment to spare for their friend, Little Red Hen, as she goes about first growing the wheat, then grinding it, and then baking it into matzah for her Seder. When all three have the chutzpah to show up for the Seder, she remembers the words in the Haggadah: "Let all who are hungry come and eat," and invites them in. And when it's time for clean-up afterwards, guess who says, "Not I" this time. The combination of a rollicking story, bouncy illustrations, and the take-off on a tale most children have likely heard before make this a winner! Instructions for preparing and baking matzah are given.

Portnoy, Mindy Avra. TALE OF TWO SEDERS, A. Illus. by Valeria Cis. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2010. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-9917-3. Preschool, PrimaryA little girl describes the two Seders she goes to each year after her parents have divorced. While expressing both wistfulness and her wish for her parents to get back together, the story's positive perspective is strong. At each Seder, she comments on the charoset and at the conclusion, her mother compares families to charoset - some sweeter than others, some stickier, but each tasty in its own way. Four charoset recipes follow the story, which is colorfully illustrated.

Weber, Elka. THE YANKEE AT THE SEDER. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson.
Tricycle Press, 2009. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-1-58246-256-1. Primary, ElementaryThe Civil War has just ended and Corporal Levy of the Union Army finds a Jewish family in Richmond, Virginia who invite him to their Seder. Having a Yankee at the Seder is shocking to the family's young son but the traditional injunction "Let all who are hungry come and eat" trumps political differences. Written with touches of humor and warmly illustrated, the story is rich in Jewish values such as peoplehood and hospitality. Like Krensky's Hanukkah at Valley Forge, it is based on "hearsay" history which may or may not have actually happened.

Ziefert, Harriet. PASSOVER: CELEBRATING NOW, REMEMBERING THEN. Illus. by Karla Gudeon. Blue Apple, 2010. 36 pages. ISBN: 978-1-60905-020-7. Preschool, PrimarySuperlative in conception, design, and content, this Passover book captures both the meaning and the observance of the holiday in the present (now) and at the time of its origins (then). The text is direct and sparse, the folk-art illustrations are expansive and captivating, many spread across fold-out pages that very creatively link Passover's contemporary and historical aspects. As a modern family prepares for Passover and then celebrates it at their Seder, each element of the Seder is connected to the Passover narrative at a level of written and visual clarity that is perfect for children of many ages, especially younger ones.


Cohen, Barbara. THE CARP IN THE BATHTUB. Illus. by Joan Halpern. Kar-Ben Copies, 1987. 48 pages. ISBN: 0930494679. Primary, ElementaryConsider this a classic for Jewish children. It is timeless in its appeal and still popular with both children and adults. The plot, the writing style, and the evocation of an earlier time when gefilte fish were made and not bought are all heartwarming. So, too, are the illustrations which capture not just the two children's well-meant attempts to keep a carp that they name Joe, after a deceased neighbor, from the cooking pot but also the characters' love and respect for one another. Set shortly before Passover during the Depression, this highlights one food custom but does not explain the holiday.

Cohen, Barbara. MAKE A WISH, MOLLY. Illus. by Jones, Jan N. Jones. Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1995. ISBN: 0440410584. PrimaryA sequel to Molly's Pilgrim, this shows Molly learning to reconcile Jewish and American traditions when a classmate's birthday party occurs during Passover. Once again, Molly's resourceful mother comes to the rescue. As in the earlier book, this is a sensitive portrayal of children's relationships with classmates.

Goetz, Bracha . WHAT DO YOU SEE ON PESACH? Judaica Press, 2007. 16 pages. ISBN: 978-1-932443-64-6. PreschoolPhotos of toddlers are matched with a concept related to Passover and with some additional photos of the objects associated with the concept. For example, the first double-page spread says: "Pesach is here. What do you see? A house so clean! How can that be?" The child is dressed in denim work clothes and objects used to clean the house are shown opposite her: a vacuum cleaner, sponge, broom, paper towels, pail, and mop. The book's other concepts are food, the Seder table, drinks, clothes, the Haggadah, and the hidden afikomen. The children adorning each one are too adorable for words alone to do justice. Virtually all of the very simple text is in English except for the words kosos (cups), kos shel Eliyahu (Elijah's cup), Seder, Hagaddah, and afikomen. However, because there is no glossary to explain these terms, this board book may have limited use. The photographs, in color, are bright, clear, and labeled.

Hanft, Josh . THE MIRACLES OF PASSOVER. Illus. by Seymour Chwast. Blue Apple/Chronicle, 2007. 28 pages. ISBN: 10: 1-59354-600-9; 13: 978-1-59354-600-7. PrimaryA cogent text, lively illustrations, and flaps to lift are the three notable features of this third book on which Hanft and Chwast have collaborated. It tells the story of the Exodus, contrasting the dignified figure of Moses with the rather effete one of Pharaoh, and concludes with scenes of two Seders, one from times past and one of today, complete with a Seder plate whose foods are discovered by lifting flaps. Chwast's illustrations are deceptively simple because they convey so much meaning so economically. The colors are muted but the palette is varied so that there is much to look at on every page. As in The Miracles of Hanukkah, the text follows the Bible without fictional details being added.

Heiligman, Deborah. CELEBRATE PASSOVER WITH MATZAH, MAROR, AND MEMORIES. National Geographic, 2007. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4263-0018-9. Primary, ElementaryAnother excellent book in the Holidays Around the World series, this is by the same author as Celebrate Hanukkah with Lights, Latkes, and Dreidels and follows the same format. Engaging color photos of Jews observing Passover in different parts of the world accompany a concise text that conveys the meaning and history of the holiday, its customs, and the observance of the Seder. Appended is more information about Passover, a recipe, and some recommended books and websites. Rabbi Shira Stern's discussion of Passover concludes the book.

Kimmel, Eric A. WONDERS AND MIRACLES: A PASSOVER COMPANION. Scholastic, 2004. 136 pages. ISBN: 0439071755. Primary, Elementary, Middle-School, High-School, AdultThe traditional order of the Seder is the organizing principle of this superbly written and illustrated anthology. The lucid narrative blends history, tradition, modern practices, and Passover's timeless meaning. It is extended by a fascinating selection of poetry, stories, and song lyrics, including a K'tonton tale and another about a protest rally on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The illustrations and book design are outstanding and draw from centuries of Haggadot, manuscripts, ritual objects, sculpture and paintings. A distinguished book for a wide range of interests and ages. Winner of a National Jewish Book Award.

Lehman-Wilzig, Tami . PASSOVER AROUND THE WORLD. Illus. by Elizabeth Wolf. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2007. 48 pages. ISBN: 978-1-58013-213-8. Primary, ElementaryPassover customs of Jews from different parts of the world are introduced to children in this brightly illustrated, well-designed book. Gibraltar, Turkey, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Iran, Morocco, and the United States are the countries whose customs are used to show each step of the Seder unfolding. A map and brief historical information about each place is also provided, along with recipes. Whereas Heiligman's book Celebrate Passover with Maror, Matzah, and Memories focused on the meaning and rituals of Passover, this book focuses on national customs. There are few books for children about Jewish customs and practices in places other than Anglophone countries so this is welcome.

Olswanger, Anna. SHLEMIEL CROOKS. Illus. by Paula Goodman Koz. JuneBug/New South Books, 2005. 32 pages. ISBN: 158838165X. Primary, Elementary This off-beat and funny story, set in St. Louis in the early 1900's, is based on the author's grandfather. It involves the attempted robbery of Reb Olschwanger's saloon by two shlemiel crooks who are instigated by the ghost of Pharaoh and foiled by a talking horse and a neighborhood "shtuss." Flavored heavily with a Yiddish inflected narration and illustrated with earthy, heavily outlined linocuts, this gem of a story requires considerable practice before reading aloud. And it’s worth the effort.

Rouss, Sylvia . SAMMY SPIDER'S FIRST HAGGADAH. Illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2007. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-1-58013-230-5. Preschool, PrimaryBeginning with a brief overview of Passover, the remainder of the book follows the traditional Passover Haggadah in abbreviated form. It is written in style that young children will understand and enhanced by clever songs that are adapted from familiar ones like "Old Macdonald Had a Farm." The illustrations are slightly less abstract than in the other Sammy Spider books and Sammy himself appears only peripherally.

Rush, Barbara and Cherie Karo Schwartz. The KIDS' CATALOG OF PASSOVER: A WORLDWIDE CELEBRATION OF STORIES, SONGS, CUSTOMS, CRAFTS, FOOD, AND FUN. Jewish Publication Society, 2000. 244 pages. ISBN: 0827606877. Primary, Elementary, Middle-SchoolOrganized in relation to the Seder, this is filled with information, stories, crafts, games, recipes and songs. A drab, black and white format is offset by lively, informal writing, photographs of Jewish children, and a haimish attitude on the authors' part.

Shulman, Lisa. THE MATZO BALL BOY. Illus. by Rosanne Litzinger. Dutton, 2005. 32 pages. ISBN: 0525471693. PrimaryIn another take-off on the Gingerbread Boy, the matzo ball boy careens through the village, evading the bubbe who created him, the yenta, the rabbi, and a sly fox with a "voice as smooth as schmaltz," but not a poor man and his wife who invite him to their Seder, where he winds up in the soup! The illustrations by Rosanne Litzinger, who also illustrated the Sydney Taylor Award winning picture book, Chicken Soup By Heart, are rich and delicious - but, they don't quite match the text in their depiction of the matzo ball boy. The use of Yiddish is a little contrived, as well. On the other hand, a group of K - Gr. 2 children to whom the story was read found it hilarious!

Shulman, Lisa. THE MATZO BALL BOY. Illus. by Rosanne Litzinger. Dutton, 2005. 32 pages. ISBN: 0525471693. PrimaryIn another take-off on the Gingerbread Boy, the matzo ball boy careens through the village, evading the bubbe who created him, the yenta, the rabbi, and a sly fox with a "voice as smooth as schmaltz," but not a poor man and his wife who invite him to their Seder, where he winds up in the soup! The illustrations by Rosanne Litzinger, who also illustrated the Sydney Taylor Award winning picture book, Chicken Soup By Heart, are rich and delicious - but, they don't quite match the text in their depiction of the matzo ball boy. The use of Yiddish is a little contrived, as well. On the other hand, a group of K - Gr. 2 children to whom the story was read found it hilarious!

For more Passover titles, visit the Valuesfinder at www.ajljewishvalues.org.
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For immediate release
For more info contact Heidi Estrin


The Association of Jewish Libraries has become an affiliate of the American Library Association as of January, 2010. Among ALA's twenty-eight affiliate organizations, there are a number that, like AJL, represent religious or ethnic library services, including the American Indian Library Association, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, the Catholic Library Association, the Black Caucus of ALA, and the Chinese American Librarians Association.

AJL was welcomed into the fold with a warm “Congratulations!” by ALA’s Alicia Bastl, liaison for affiliates. "AJL's mission is to support Judaic libraries and promote Jewish literacy. ALA wants to do the same for American libraries. Our goals overlap and reinforce each other. We hope that this new affiliation will help AJL grow and strengthen even as it helps ALA diversify,” said Susan Dubin, AJL President. “This is a great opportunity for us to educate the library world about AJL and its many activities."

Affiliates enjoy representation at ALA conferences and in ALA print and online publications. Benefits of membership began immediately for AJL, when the winners of its 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award were announced on the ALA website alongside their other children's literary prizes such as the Newbery and Caldecott medals.

The Association of Jewish Libraries, established in 1966, has over 1,000 members worldwide. AJL promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. Visit the AJL website at www.jewishlibraries.org, and visit http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/affiliates/affiliates/AJL.cfm to see AJL’s presence on ALA’s website.


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The Yankee at the Seder is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category.  Read an interview with author Elka Weber at BewilderBlog with blogger Laurel Snyder.

Here's a teaser:
Laurel: I’m excited about all the new things happening in Jewish kidlit right now. I wonder if– as part of that trend– you you’d be willing to share a few ideas for things you’re working on, or works in progress. What’s the wackiest Jewish pickture book you can imagine wanting to write? They book you’d liketo write, but have a hard time imagining anyone would publish?

Elka: As you say, this is an exciting time in Jewish kidlit. The Jewish community in the US has always been diverse, but we’ve gotten better at reflecting that reality. Children’s literature in general grows more sophisticated and Jewish literature is part of that larger trend. I just hope we don’t get too sophisticated to have fun.

My next book (One Little Chicken, June 2011) is a retelling of a story in the Talmud, but with a slight twist. It’s about a rabbi who was so committed to returning a lost chicken that he sells the eggs, invests the proceeds and ends up with a houseful of animals before the original owner shows up to claim his one little chicken. In my telling, the story gets a little antic toward the end.

The wackiest Jewish picture book I’d love to write would be What Do You Mean, You Don’t Want Seconds? starring feisty Jewish grandmothers from different times and places defending their traditional cooking. Naturally, it would be narrated by a piece of gefilte fish and end up in an all-out food fight at the central bus station in Jerusalem.

I am also writing for adults. I’ve finished a book about the last voyage of Henry Hudson. His men mutinied and set him adrift in the Arctic in 1611 and he was never heard from again. There’s nothing explicitly Jewish in the book but the question of what drives good men to evil deeds is most definitely a religious issue.


The illustrator for The Yankee at the Seder is Adam Gustavson. You can read an interview with him at Great Kids Books with blogger Mary Ann Scheuer.

Here's a teaser:
Great Kid Books: As a book lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Adam G: My great loves are the old Mercer Mayer books from the 1960s and 1970s, like One Monster After Another and Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo. I think a lot of my cultural awareness came from these books. For example, I would see an old fashioned mailbox, and I could grasp what it was in the context of the picture.


Naomi's Song by Selma Kritzer Silverberg is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers category. The late Selma Silverberg wrote this story many years ago, and it was recently published by JPS through the efforts of her daughter, Judy Vida. Read an interview with Judy at The Book Nosher with blogger Robin Gaphni.
Here's a teaser:

Robin: Naomi is depicted as a very independent, strong-minded woman in a time when men were in charge of virtually everything. Naomi’s Song was originally written in the late 1950’s-the very dawn of the women’s movement. Would you consider your mother an early feminist? Did she have some of the similar traits as Naomi?

Judy: Yes, I would consider her an early feminist. She was quiet about it, but she was determined to develop her own character and pursue her own interests even within the confines of a traditional 1950’s family role. It never occurred to her that there was anything she could not accomplish. She had long wanted to return to college to earn an elementary education degree. At the age of 44 she started toward that goal, taking only 1 course each semester, and completed her degree at the age of 58. Like Naomi she identified tasks and goals then persevered to complete them.


Tune in tomorrow for features on Jacqueline Jules (author, Benjamin and the Silver Goblet) at ASHarmony, Natascia Ugliano (illustrator, Benjamin and the Silver Goblet) at The Book of Life, Deborah Bodin Cohen (author, Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim) at Ima On and Off the Bima, and Jago (illustrator, Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim) at Jewish Books for Children.
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Want to know how to organize your library?

Need help choosing appropriate books?

Interested in social media tools?

Designing a library skills curriculum?

All these topics and more can be found on the AJL wiki organized and designed by our talented Technology Committee Chairs, Diane Romm and Joyce Levine. Check it out!


Susan Dubin

AJL President
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The Steering Committee of the Judaica Librarians' Group (AJL in Israel) had a meeting last week.


It was decided to have the next study day on 28 April at the National Library.  There will be 4 speakers on the following topics:


The Phoneteka (collection of sound recordings at NLI)


Europeana Judaica (JUDAICA (Jewish Urban Digital European Integrated Cultural Archive) will work with European cultural institutions to identify content demonstrating the Jewish contribution to the cities of Europe. It will digitise 10,500 photos, 1,500 postcards and 7,150 recordings as well as several million pages from books, newspapers, archives and press clippings.


Israeli publishers


Genealogical tools


Other decisions include establishing a blog for the discussion of problems that arise during the course of work.  Also an online publication for the dissemination of information about unique items or cataloging problems encountered in the course of work till be set up.  The director of the Rambam Library in Tel Aviv has offered to be the editor.  Now we're trying to arrange an editorial board.
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It is official! AJL is now an ALA affiliate organization. ALA will be setting up a page for our organization on their website. We are invited to send 2 representatives to ALA in summer and also to Midwinter. At Midwinter we will be part of a lunch meeting with their Executive Director. At summer we can have a table with information about AJL.

ALA also announced the Sydney Taylor Awards in their newsletter.

This should give AJL much more visibility and hopefully allow us to reach many more people.

 Thanks to all who helped,

Susan Dubin

AJL President

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The Importance of Wings is the Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers category. Read an interview with author Robin Friedman at Bildungsroman with blogger Little Willow.

Here's a teaser:
Little Willow: You are a self-proclaimed Jersey Girl, but you were born in Israel. Have you visited Israel since leaving it at the age of five?

Robin: I've been back to Israel several times, including as a college student for a junior year abroad, at the University of Haifa. In that year, I literally fell in love with the landscape and the history, and learned so much about my heritage, as well as the gaps in my family's story.


Lost is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Teen Readers category. Read an interview with author Jacqueline Davies at Biblio File with blogger Jen Rothschild.

Here's a teaser:
Jen: In your acknowledgments, you say that it took you ten years to find a way to tell the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. What about this tragedy spoke to you so strongly?

Jacqueline: This book began with a sound. Back in 1999, I was watching Ric Burns’ documentary New York. I already knew the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. I’d studied it years ago in college. But watching that film, I heard a sound effect that was created by the sound engineer: It was his imagining of the sound you would hear when the body of a young girl strikes the sidewalk after falling eighty feet. The sound was like a combination of an overstuffed dufflebag thrown from a great height, a stack of books dropped on a hard wooden floor, and a hand smacking a face. It’s a sound I will never forget, and it had the effect of pulling me back over a century and putting me in that place, in that fire, with those girls.


You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? is a Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the Younger Readers category. Read an interview with author Jonah Winter with blogger Lori Calabrese at Get in the Game: Read! or at Examiner.com.

Here's a teaser:

Lori: I read that you still have all your baseball cards from when you were a boy. How did you avert such disasters as your Mom throwing away your prized collection?

Jonah: Why would my mother have thrown away my baseball cards? She's not a sadist! I guess there are some people who, upon becoming adults, leave their cards in the attics of their parents' homes. Well, not this pig. I've always carried them around with me in my 1980 census bag (my first job out of high school was as a census taker), hauling them from one residence to the next, all 28 domiciles! (I've moved around a lot. In fact, that's what inspired me to write my book The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven. I still have 11 to go...!)


Tune in tomorrow for interviews with Elka Weber (author, The Yankee at the Seder) at BewilderBlog, Adam Gustavson (illustrator, The Yankee at the Seder) at Great Kids Books, and Judy Vida, (author's daughter, Naomi's Song) at The Book Nosher.
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The Association of Jewish Libraries will hold its annual Midwinter Board and Council meetings January 10 and 11 in New York at the Affinia Hotel Manhattan. All Board and Council members are asked to attend. It is during these meetings that new business is discussed and policy decisions are made. This year's Sydney Taylor Award winners will be announced at the Council meeting on Monday.

In addition, plans for the upcoming annual convention in Seattle will be shared. Since the convention is being planned by a national as well as a local committee, the Council meeting should be a roll-up-your-sleeves and get busy work session. Other business to be discussed is the idea of giving an award to a publisher or bookseller who has benefited Judaica Librarianship. The idea voted on at the last Council meeting is to change the Doris Orenstein Fund to this award since Doris was a vendor at early AJL programs. The money in the Orenstein Fund which had formerly been earmarked for newcomers to convention would be mingled with other funds in the Convention stipend account. Last Council meeting it was decided that all first time convention attendees should get a stipend to encourage their attendance.

AJL has applied to ALA for affiliate status. Hopefully, we will hear after ALA Midwinter whether it has been approved. Once we are an ALA affiliate, we can announce our awards on the ALA page. This should give AJL much more visibility.

Plans are moving ahead to hire an administrative consultant. We are also looking for someone or some company to help with a redesign of our webpage. Many thanks to our hardworking Task Force members and the Technology Chairs for helping with this important move in moving our organization forward.

Here's wishing everyone a happy, healthy, successful, and peaceful 2010!


Susan Dubin

AJL President
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AJL Regional Conference in Israel

AJL presented a regional conference in Israel at Bar Ilan University on November 5, 2009. On the program were four speakers:  

Shmuel Har Noy, Administrative Director of  the
National Library of Israel, whose topic was Challenges of the New National Library of Israel.

Professor Aaron Demsky from
Bar Ilan University, spoke on The Cultural Significance of Jewish Names.

Professor Elhanan Adler, Deputy Director for Information Technology of the NLI,  reported on
Ten Years of Digitization at NLI .

Moshe Rosenfeld, talked about Discoveries of Hebrew Materials in Christian Repositories.

Some of the sessions at the conference were recorded and will be posted as podcasts on the
AJL website.

According to Ya'akov Aronson, the organizer of this event, there were more than 50 participants from 12 different institutions. At the conference, Shmuel Har Noy, the Administrative Director of the National Library, invited the group to plan the next program at NLI. Seven people from five institutions volunteered to be on a steering committee to plan future events.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new branch of AJL in Israel. We are also planning to hold two simultaneous sessions in Israel and Seattle during our 2010 Annual Convention.


Susan Dubin

AJL President


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Thanks to the hard work of Ya'Akov Aaronson, we will have a regional conference in Israel on November 5, 2010. We have 4 speakers, Shmuel Har Noy, Administrative Director of  NLI on the Challenges of the New National Library of Israel, a professor from Bar Ilan on The cultural significance of Jewish names, Elhanan Adler on 10 years of digitization at NLI and the last one on Discoveries of Hebrew materials in Christian locations.  This is about discovering Hebrew manuscripts in monasteries in Europe. The fellow, Moshe Rosenfeld, is authorized by the Catholic Church to search in monasteries for Hebrew materials.  He has found some amazing things.

Sessions at the conference will be recorded to post as a podcast on the AJL website.

At the conference, Ya'Akov will also look for people who would like to help organize an AJL group in Israel.

 For information about the conference, contact Ya'Akov Aaronson.

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Now that the fall holidays are over, we have a lot to do! I hope that everyone had a happy Sukkot and a sweet and meaningful Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Since this week we read B'resheet, it is appropriate to begin on our new tasks.

Several of our committees need help --

Mentoring needs volunteers to help organize the mentor program as well as to be mentors. If you would like to find a mentor to help with a new job, different responsibilities, or some as pect of librarianship, contact Stephanie (Sara Leah) Gross. The information is on the AJL web page.

Accreditation Committee is looking for a co-chair who lives in the New York City area. Michal is the Chai and she can use some help with some of the tasks. If you would like to be considered for co-chair, contact AJL President Susan Dubin. If you would like to serve on the committee, contact Michal.

All the AJL committees are open to participation by our members. Look at the AJL web page to see which committee you would like to work with. We welcome your participation and help!

Our new Technology Committee is working with our Professional Development and Continuing Education Committee to prepare a webinar on using wikis. The webinar will be free to our members. We are asking all Committee Chairs and Co-Chairs to sign up for the webinar . We would like to encourage our committees to use wikis to facilitate communication between members. It is an easy way to stay in touch over the miles and ime differences! Watch for information on the webinar on HaSafran and through this blog.

Many thanks to our hard-working PR CHair, Heidi, who has mounted several of our convention podcasts on the website. Take advantage of this opportunity to share in the tremendous amount of learning that takes place at our conventions. It is one of the many reasons to be an AJL member!

Our Newsletter just arrived at my house on Saturday. (California is a little slow.) What a fabulous resource. I found at least 15 new books we need to buy for our library. The articles were outstanding and I love the new column about Israeli authors! Great job Libby, Nancy, and review editors!

Watch this space for more AJL news and thoughts...


Susan Dubin

AJL President

"Why Be Social?" Launches Podcast
on Jewish Social Media

September, 2009 -

"Why Be Social?" is a four-part podcast mini-series created to encourage lovers of Jewish literature to engage in social media in order to promote and support the genre. The project was inspired by a social media workshop at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in June 2009 in Chicago, arranged by podcaster Heidi Estrin (bookoflifepodcast.com) and led by podcaster Mark Blevis (canadianpodcastbuffet.ca, justonemorebook.com.)

"Mark's session at the convention opened the floodgates of attendees' curiosity about blogs and podcasts, and how these websites can be used to promote Jewish publishing, library use, and reading. I created the 'Why Be Social?' podcast as a way to continue the conversation beyond the convention," says Estrin.

Part 1 of "Why Be Social?" addresses philosophical aspects of the human relationship with technology. Part 2 offers definitions for "blogging" and "podcasting." In Part 3, host Heidi Estrin and guest Alx Block of the Jewish Publication Society suggest relevant blogs and podcasts for Jewish book lovers. Part 4 wraps up by bringing back Mark Blevis to discuss social media participation, or as he calls it, "create, consume, contribute." All four podcast episodes offer extensive show notes, and the series is an excellent resource on getting started in social media engagement.

The four episodes of "Why Be Social?" were posted to Estrin's regular podcast, The Book of Life, a show about Jewish books, music, film and web that has been online since 2005. Visit www.bookoflifepodcast.com to listen to the "Why Be Social?" series, and to check out earlier episodes featuring interviews with Jewish authors, musicians, and other creative people.

About The Book of Life

The Book of Life (www.bookoflifepodcast.com) has been bringing Jewish arts and culture to a self-selected audience of Judaica lovers since 2005, with regular podcasts covering Jewish books, music, film and web. The Book of Life is a service of Congregation B'nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida and is supported in part by the Association of Jewish Libraries.


About the Association of Jewish Libraries

The Association of Jewish Libraries (www.jewishlibraries.org) promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. AJL fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel.

Heidi Estrin
Host, The Book of Life
PR Chair, Association of Jewish Libraries


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