"People of the Books" Blog

Conference 2019 - Preliminary Program and Grid

Get the first look at the 2019 conference program and grid. While the program is still being tweaked, you can get an idea of the exciting sessions and speakers.

2019 Winners of the AJL Jewish Fiction Award

The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces 2019 Winners of Jewish Fiction Award

Mark Sarvas is the winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) Jewish Fiction Award for his novel Memento Park, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize as well as support to attend the 54th Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries in Woodland Hills, CA, June 17-19, 2019. Two honor books were also recognized: The Cloister by James Carroll, published by Nan Talese, an imprint of Knopf Doubleday, and The Fourth Corner of the World by Scott Nadelson, published by Engine Books. The Committee reviewed over 70 works of fiction originally written in English with significant Jewish thematic content that were published in the United States in 2018. Thanks to all those who submitted entries for consideration. The wide array of books published this year is a testament to the vibrant state of contemporary Jewish fiction.

book cover of Memento Park The protagonist in Mark Sarvas’s second novel, Memento Park, becomes aware of a valuable painting believed to have been stolen from his family in World War II. In order to recover the mysterious work, he must reconnect with his father, his family history, and his own Judaism. “Dramatically paced and laced with mordant wit, Mark Sarvas has fashioned a meditation on art, family, faith, and Jewish history in the form of a suspenseful intellectual thriller,” notes Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, Chairperson of the Award Committee.

 

In The Cloister, James Carroll tells the timeless love story of the discredited medieval French scholar Peter Abelard and his intellectual paramour Héloïse, and its impact on a priest and a Holocaust survivor in post-World War II Manhattan. “Assiduously researched and richly imagined, James Carroll has created a riveting glimpse into how the encounter between Christianity and Judaism many centuries ago continues to reverberate to devastating effect in more recent times,” writes Yermiyahu Ahron Taub. Cover of The Cloister

 

Book cover of the Fourth Corner of the World The characters in Scott Nadelson’s short story collection, The Fourth Corner of the World, abandon their lands of origin, sever their roots, and distance themselves from the people they once were. “With diverse settings and time periods - from 1920s Paris, Jewish utopian farmers in 1880s Oregon, teenage girls in 1980s New Jersey, and modern-day suburbanites – each story is fascinating and emotionally charged,” commented Rachel Kamin, a member of the Award Committee.

 

The AJL Jewish Fiction Award Committee members are Merrily Hart, Rachel Kamin, Clare Kinberg, Rosalind Reisner, and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub.

The Association of Jewish Libraries gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Dan Wyman Books for underwriting the Award. Submissions for the 2020 AJL Fiction Award are now being accepted. For more information, please visit https://jewishlibraries.org/AJL_Jewish_Fiction_Award.

The Association of Jewish Libraries is an all-volunteer professional organization that promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel.

For more information, contact Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, ajljewishfictionaward@gmail.com

AJL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 2019, LOS ANGELES (WOODLAND HILLS,) CALIFORNIA

logo for 2019 conference Monday, June 17, 2019 to Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Warner Center Marriott
21850 Oxnard St.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

 

Join AJL in June for our 54th annual conference at the Warner Center Marriott located in the popular suburbs of the San Fernando Valley, in the city of Los Angeles. It is ideally situated near public transportation and shopping, with a multitude of dining options nearby. More importantly, Woodland Hills has a vibrant Jewish community waiting to meet with Judaica librarians from around the world.

Most of our conference will be held within the beautiful conference center inside the hotel, but we do have special optional tours planned offsite. The conference will begin with a noon luncheon on Monday, followed by a variety of interesting afternoon sessions, and then you are on your own for dinner.

Our Tuesday keynote luncheon speaker will be Russian-born author and artist Eugene Yelchin, 2018 National Book Award finalist, and winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Newbery Honor Award and Golden Kite Award among many other notable honors. 

Featured among the many Tuesday sessions will be presentations on research skills for high schools, some well-known literary stars of the Los Angeles Persian Jewish community (including author Gina Nahai), and the best new Jewish fiction for adults.

Tuesday evening will continue with our Literary Awards Banquet, honoring the winners of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award, the Judaica Reference and Bibliography Award, as well as our newest award: the AJL Fiction Award for best adult fiction book with a Jewish theme. 

After morning sessions on Wednesday, we will board busses to travel to American Jewish University in Bel Air to tour the library and grounds and enjoy our final lunch together.  Optional tours will be available to visit either the Getty Museum or the Skirball Cultural Center, both within one mile of the university.

For those needing to catch a flight home from LAX on Thursday morning, the Hilton LAX hotel has been reserved at a special rate for our members and the airport shuttle ride is included in the price. (Check the website next month for the link to this hotel rate.)

The registration link  for the conference and the Marriott hotel is now available at our website: https://jewishlibraries.org/meetinginfo.php?id=20&ts=1548037786 

to get the Early Bird full conference rate of $400 until April 15th!

We look forward to seeing you in June!

 

Jackie BenEfraim, Local Conference Chairperson

Lisa Silverman, National Conference Chairperson

 

2018 Reference and Bibliography Awards

The Judaica Reference and Bibliography Awards Committee decided as following regarding the Judaica Reference and Bibliography 2018 awards:

Bibliography

David Hollander, Legal Scholarship in Jewish Law : an Annotated Bibliography of Journal Articles (Getzville, New York : William S. Hein & Co., 2017)

Honorable Mention: Steven J. Weiss, Pirke Avot: a Thesaurus : an Annotated Bibliography of Printed Hebrew Commentaries, 1485-2015 (Los Angeles & Jerusalem : The Dr. Steven J. Weiss Collection, 2016)

Reference

Paul R Bartrop & Michael Dickerman The Holocaust: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection (Santa Barbara, CA : ABC-CLIO, 2017)

Honorable mention: Zachary M. Baker, “Resources in Yiddish Studies” published in: In Geveb : A Journal of Yiddish Studies https://ingeveb.org/tags/Resources%20in%20Yiddish%20Studies )

I would like to thank the awards’ sponsors: Dr. Greta Silver of New York City, who established the AJL Judaica Reference Award, to encourage the publication of outstanding Judaica reference works, and Eric Chaim Kline of Los Angeles, who established the AJL Judaica Bibliography Award,  to encourage the publication of outstanding Judaica bibliographies.


I would also like to thank the Committee members Amalia S. Levi, David B. Levy, Michelle Chesner and Shulamith Z Berger for their enthusiastic and thoughtful input.

Rachel Simon

2018 Winners of Jewish Fiction Award

The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces 2018 Winners of Jewish Fiction Award

Rachel Kadish is the inaugural winner of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) Jewish Fiction Award for her novel The Weight of Ink, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize as well as support to attend the 53rd Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries in Boston, MA, June 18-20, 2018. Two honor books were also recognized: Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan, published by Tin House Books, and A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert, published by Pantheon Books, part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The Committee received over 50 works of fiction with significant Jewish thematic content, written in English and available in the United States in 2017, and thanks all those who submitted entries for consideration. The wide array of books published this year is a testament to the vibrant state of contemporary Jewish fiction.

“Rachel Kadish has crafted an extraordinary cast of characters who speak to each other within and across the divides of centuries as well as those of age, religion, and class and come vividly to life under her empathic touch,” notes Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, Chairperson of the Award Committee. “This is a book that honors learning, libraries, archivists and librarians, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Jewish Fiction Award Committee is delighted to present Kadish with the 2018 AJL Jewish Fiction Award.”

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan gives serious depth to the little-known story of Jewish life in Ireland. Weaving a complex story, Ruth Gilligan uses the specifics of Irish lore and history woven with the Jewish experience to illuminate the stories of a young girl and her family who emigrate from eastern Europe, a suddenly mute boy incarcerated in a home for the mentally disabled, and a woman who considers the implications of converting to Judaism. According to Taub, “Gilligan's expert twists of plot, exploration of historical themes, and her gift of word play and dark humor” impressed the Committee.

Rachel Seiffert's A Boy in Winter works on a small canvas and creates a searing emotional impact. As the Nazis invade a small Ukrainian town, a variety of characters are forced to face the invasion's terrible consequences and quickly make life-altering decisions. Taub comments: “Seiffert writes with spareness, a plain-hewn power that draws the reader on a journey of suspense in a time and place of limited possibility.”

The Association of Jewish Libraries gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Dan Wyman Books for underwriting the Award. Submissions for the 2019 AJL Fiction Award are now being accepted. For more information, please visit www.jewishlibraries.org.