"People of the Books" Blog

Judaica Reference award winner 2016

The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces the 2016 Judaica Reference and Bibliography Award Winners

The Association of Jewish Libraries encourages the publication of outstanding works of Judaica reference and bibliography through its annual awards. We are pleased to announce that the Judaica Reference award winner for titles published in 2016 was given to Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary (based on the lexical research of Mordkhe Schaechter) edited by Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath, Paul Glasser (editors in chief) and  Chava Lapin (associate editor), published by the Indiana University Press, 2016.

Cover of Comprehensive English-Yiddish DictionaryThis dictionary is a most valuable comprehensive reference tool for a major Jewish language. It brings Yiddish to the 21st century, emphasizing Yiddish as a living language that is spoken in many places around the world. It has substantially more entries than previous standard Yiddish dictionaries with close to 50,000 entries and 33,000 subentries. The richness of dialect differences and historical developments are noted in words and expressions, phrases and sayings that can be found in classic and contemporary literature, newspapers, and other sources of the written word and have long been used by professionals and tradesmen, in synagogues, at home, in intimate life, and wherever Yiddish-speaking Jews have lived and worked. It fills in huge numbers of gaps in the older volumes, adds up-to-date terminology, and gives more accurate and much more complete translations. Thus, even though it is geared to the present and future it does not neglect traditional Jewish content.  AJL Reference Award Committee members expressed their admiration for this work, describing it as a monumental achievement, a product of many years of intensive research, with a clear introduction, bibliography guidelines, tables, and abbreviations.  It is useful not only for those who want to express themselves in Yiddish, but also for those who are translating from Yiddish into English and want to explore the nuances of different Yiddish words by looking up the corresponding English entries. The award committee agreed that this work is a must for anyone who has anything to do with Yiddish or with translation in either direction.



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



How Is This Book Different?

How Is This Book Different?

You are invited to participate in How Is This Book Different?, a joint project of the Association of Jewish Libraries, the Jewish Book Council, and Call Me Ishmael. Book lovers of all ages and any religious background can join in! Here's how:

  1. Call 774-325-0503 to leave a short voicemail
  2. Between March 27-April 4, 2017
  3. With a personal story about any Jewish book that matters in your life
  4. Then go to CallMeIshmael.com to hear everyone's stories! 

Click here to listen to The Book of Life Podcast's episode that explains the origins of the project and click here for tips on making your voicemail awesome.


Opening on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee

A position on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee will be available beginning in June, 2017. AJL members are encouraged to apply.

Applicants should be members of AJL, familiar with the scope of Judaic children’s literature, experienced in writing critical reviews, willing and able to read and review over 120 books during the course of a year, and able to meet deadlines.

Committee members are expected to attend the annual conference and to participate in committee-sponsored events, including speaking at the Committee’s annual presentation.  The term of membership on the Committee is four years.  Each committee member typically receives more than $1500 in books for review, which may be kept for personal use or added to the member’s library.

Membership on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee is both fun and intellectually challenging. It also requires a substantial commitment in terms of time and energy.

Members must be able to submit reviews electronically and correspond with the committee members through regular e-mail.  Familiarity with Google Docs is helpful but not required.

To apply, send a letter indicating the reasons for your interest, a resume, and several examples of your recent reviews of Jewish children’s books to Ellen Tilman, Committee Chair, at [email protected] or [email protected]

Applications will be accepted through March 21, 2017

2017 Blog Tour: Day 5

On this final day of the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour, we wrap up with a virtual roundtable discussion at The Whole Megillah.

We hope you've enjoyed these peeks behind the scenes of this year's gold and silver medalists' creations!