"People of the Books" Blog

Day 2: Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2016

Two more stops on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour today, another gold medalist and another silver. Be sure to check out yesterday's interviews on Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed and Serendipity's Footsteps, and get the rest of the blog tour schedule here.


Adam & Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld, translated by Jeffrey M. Green, illustrated by Philippe Dumas
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Jewish Books for Kids with Barbara Bietz
Translator Interview



Hereville by Barry Deutsch
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Older Readers Category
At Jewish Comics
Author-illustrator interview

Day 1: Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour 2016

Today kicks off the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour, a virtual book tour for authors and illustrators of this year's gold and silver medalists. Check back each day for new interviews, or wait until the end and read all the interviews at once! Find the entire blog tour schedule here


Ketzel the Cat Who Composed by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates
Sydney Taylor Book Award winner in the Younger Readers Category
At Ann Koffsky's Blog
Author Interview
Illustrator Interview

Serendipity's Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson
Sydney Taylor Honor Award winner in the Teen Readers Category
At Bildungsroman


AJL Spotlight is an on-going series that highlights the day-in-a-life of our members and libraries. This week we interviewed, Heidi Estrin, winner of the 2016 Fanny Goldstein Merit Award Scholarship.

Name: Heidi Estrin
Your institution: Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel of Boca Raton, Florida
Job title: Library Director and Media Specialist

How big is the collection you manage?
We have 9,000+ volume library serving the children of our Reform synagogue preschool and religious school, as well as their parents and teachers.

What is your typical day?
1) Storytimes for Baby Center and Preschool classes, including read-aloud, singing, and demonstrating an iPad app
2) Computer Lab classes for Preschool
3) Order books for the library from Ebay to find the best prices on new and gently used titles
4) Edit and post a new episode of The Book of Life, my podcast about Jewish books, music, film and web
5) Sort through used books donated to library
6) Attend professional development workshop for staff of the religious school
7) Write up plans for our Year of Literary Celebrations (different literary activities each month in the Preschool)
8) Reference and reader’s advisory for teachers and parents

How did you get involved with AJL?
I got involved in 1998. I had just been hired at Congregation B’nai Israel when longtime member Lee Wixman z”l waltzed into the library and said “South Florida AJL is hosting the next convention and you’re going to help. I’ll drive you to the chapter meeting.” He did, and I did, and I haven’t missed a conference since. Jumping in the deep end was good for me.

What AJL positions have you served?
Past President
Past Chair of Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee
Past Chair of PR Committee
Past Chair of Mentoring Committee

What have been some memorable highlights at conferences?
I particularly enjoyed the special kidlit celebration we did in Cleveland (2008) for the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Maybe we can do something like that again in 2018! There’s always something special about each conference destination too. In Cambridge (2006), I took a side-trip with Etta Gold to Western Mass to see the Yiddish Book Center and Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. In Chicago (2009), I got to visit the Planet Esme Book Room. The travel is fun, but the best part is seeing my once-a-year librarian friends. It’s sort of like going back to summer camp each year!

Can you recommend a book to us?
At AJL15, I got to interview Laura Gehl, author of Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel, so I will recommend that book. I like how it has a plot beyond “whirlwind tour of Israel” and I really love the sophisticated illustrations.

Regional AJL Events


The JLNMC is the Chicago-area chapter of AJL. We invite you to join us!

The Judaica Library Network of Metropolitan Chicago presents: An Afternoon of Jewish Children’s Books, Sunday, February 21, 2016, 2-4 pm, with special guest Suzanne Raphael Berkson, illustrator of The Parakeet Named Dreidel, a 2016 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Young Readers.

The program will be held at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El (1175 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL) and will include a discussion of the 2016 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners and other favorite, new Jewish children’s books.  All are welcome!

Please RSVP to Rachel Kamin: rkamin@nssbethel.org or 847/926-7902.

Shop the Annual Used Book Sale at NSS Beth El before and after the program. All hard covers $2; paperbacks $1. Cash and checks accepted.



South Florida AJL (SFAJL) will hold a chapter meeting on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 in Miami Beach.

We will gather at Pita Loca (http://pitaloca.com/) at 11:30am for kosher lunch, then walk to the Jewish Museum of Florida (http://jmof.fiu.edu/) for a 1pm tour of the exhibit Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqui Jewish Heritage. The tour will last approximately 2 hours. Museum admission is $5. More info at sfajl.org.



Dear Safranim,  in New England and beyond! I’m delighted to announce the date and program of our annual NEAJL meeting! 

Friday May 20, @ Temple Israel, Boston.

The schedule/program will be:

9:30 -10:00.  Coffee, tea, schmooze, tour of Dr. Arnold L. Segel Library Center.  
10:00 – 11:00.  Author/Storyteller Ina Friedman will speak about the process of researching and writing her three Young Adult books relating to the Holocaust.  (Her research took her to five continents!)

Her books relating to the Holocaust:  

The Other Victims: First-Person Stories of Non-Jews Persecuted by the Nazis.   

Flying Against the Wind: The Story of a Young Woman Who Defied the Nazis

Escape or Die : True Stories of Young People Who Survived the Holocaust

She is also the author of the picture book for young children:  How My Parents Learned to Eat

More info about Ina and her books: http://www.jacketflap.com/profile.asp?member=Friedman

11:00 – 12:00.  Hacking and Transforming Our Libraries.

We will discuss John Palfrey’s book, Biblio Tech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/john-palfrey/bibliotech   and talk about how these ideas apply to our libraries, and how we, as librarians, can and must chart the course for our institutions as we navigate the shifting sands of rapidly changing formats.        

I’m asking that folks either read Biblio Tech or, if you don’t have time, read these or other articles by him and a fellow library advocate, Jonathan Zittrain.  And/or to read/bring articles you find helpful on the topic of Transforming our Libraries: 

Why Libraries (still) matter: by Jonathan Zittrain  https://medium.com/galleys/why-libraries-still-matter-3df27e7522cb#.f4z2cerf3

Article interviewing John Palfrey.  John Palfrey on the importance of libraries in the digital information age   https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/node/98918

12:00 – 1:00.   Option to stay and enjoy your (pareve) bag lunch, and continue the conversations!  Beverages will be provided.

There is no charge, but please reply to me by email at aabrams@tisrael.org, by May 6, so we can plan accordingly.  

There is public transportation nearby, and a parking garage.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to validate your parking ticket.  There is limited on-street meter-parking in nearby Brookline. Please let me know if you have questions, and/or need help with getting here/parking. 

All AJL members are welcome.  Hope you can come!

2016 Fanny Goldstein Merit Award Recipient

The Fanny Goldstein Merit Award Committee of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) is delighted to announce that Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin is the winner of the 2016 Fanny Goldstein Merit Award Fanny Goldstein Merit Award.  

The Fanny Goldstein Merit Award, named for the librarian, social activist and founder of National Jewish Book Month, is bestowed in recognition of loyal and ongoing contributions to the Association and to the profession of Jewish librarianship. Born on May 15, 1895 (some sources say 1888), Fanny Goldstein devoted her life to books and community. She was the first female Judaica librarian and the first woman to direct a branch library in Massachusetts, where she was head of Boston's West End Branch for many years. A prominent figure in the Boston Jewish community, she is best known as the founder of Jewish Book Week, which began when Goldstein organized a display of Jewish books at the Boston Public Library in 1925.

Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin has served AJL and the profession of Judaica librarianship in numerous capacities and with great distinction for many years. Heidi was President of the Association of Jewish Libraries from 2012-2014 in a tenure distinguished by inclusivity, strength, and candor.  Heidi was the chairperson of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee and the Public Relations Committee. In addition, she serves on the AJL Strategic Planning Committee.

Heidi has taken the lead in increasing the visibility of AJL. Heidi oversaw the recording and editing of podcasts of AJL conference sessions and posted them online. She regularly posts photographs, notifications, and announcements about AJL on Facebook and other social media and monitors them to maintain an active engagement with the AJL and Jewish bibliophile communities. Recently, Heidi has regularly maintained the AJL website and has served as the go-to person for website changes at www.jewishlibraries.org

Heidi has been instrumental in promoting Jewish literature. She has interviewed numerous authors on her Book of Life: A Podcast about Jewish People and the Books We Read and carefully edited those interviews into lively listening for lovers of Jewish books everywhere. Having just celebrated its tenth year, these extraordinary podcasts are notable for their thoughtful engagement with Jewish texts and their authors. Heidi also spearheaded AJL Readsa call-in book club for discussion among members around a given book.

And in addition to all of her AJL activities, Heidi works as the Library Director and Media Specialist at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida. Heidi also has been the long-term president of the South Florida Chapter of the Association of Jewish Libraries, tirelessly doing all she can to keep this disparate group together and to bring AJL’s message and mission to the South Florida region. 

To all of these many tasks and initiatives, Heidi brings her characteristic warmth, wisdom, and vision. The Committee offers its deepest thanks to Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin for all of her many contributions to AJL and the field of Judaica librarianship and wishes her continued success for many years to come.