"People of the Books" Blog

SSC Resources for Troubled Times

The Association of Jewish Libraries is greatly concerned about the rise in anti-Semitic acts within the United States and around the world. Newspapers everywhere are covering stories daily about hate speech, vandalism, bomb threats and the desecration of cemeteries. Both personally and professionally, the AJL Librarians in our Day Schools, Synagogues and Community Centers are most at risk as these behaviors escalate. In addition, racism and bigotry directed at target populations–Muslims, LGBTQ, African Americans and anyone perceived as “other”–is also on the rise. No matter who the perpetrators of these illegal acts are, many of our Jewish institutions are feeling fearful. As Judaic librarians, the custodians of Jewish knowledge, we feel we can no longer keep silent. We believe we need to respond with what we know best:  literary suggestions for children that affirm the values of kindness and acceptance of others. 

Studies are showing that reading stories can assist in the development of empathy. Our rabbis, knowing the importance of a good story to enhance a lesson, developed the Midrashic tradition to “fill in the spaces” in the Torah. Stories are also important in the development of an internal moral compass.

While there are many letters, blogs and reports being written on who to call, what to do and how to discuss these trends with our children and teens, as librarians we think it important that we “go to the source.” What books can help parents and caregivers support and educate children about how to deal with a harsh new reality? Toward that end, please visit the Association of Jewish Libraries website for a list of books covering a myriad of topics from Hospitality and Manners to Acts of Kindness and Helping the Stranger. Each of these titles has been recommended by a Judaic Librarian to be included on this list. Each of these books has an important value to teach readers of all ages. The book list can be found here: http://jewishlibraries.org/images/downloads/Bibliographies/ajlbooklistapril17.pdf

It is our hope that reading and discussing these books will open eyes, encourage conversation and foster the development of creative ways for ameliorating this terrible trend.


Amalia Warshenbrot                 Kathleen M. Bloomfield

President                                 President-Schools, Synagogues & Centers Division



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