"People of the Books" Blog

2019 Reference and Bibliography Awards

2019 Reference and Bibliography Awards

The Association of Jewish Libraries Judaica Reference and Bibliography Awards Committee would like to announce this year's awards, given to works published during 2019. Awards are as follows:

Bibliography award:

Gross, William, Orly Tzion, and Falk Wiesemann, eds. Catalog of Catalogs: A Bibliography of Temporary Exhibition Catalogs Since 1876 that Contain Items of Judaica. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2019.

Reference award:

Sienna, Noam, and Judith Plaskow.A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969. Philadelphia, PA: Print-O-Craft Press, 2019.

Honorary mention (Reference):

Tapper, Aaron Hahn, and Mira Sucharov, eds.Social Justice and Israel/Palestine: Foundational and Contemporary Debates. Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division, 2019.

Lifetime achievement award:

Singerman, Robert.Judaica Americana: A Bibliography of Publications to 1900. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. Electronic edition: 2019.

Please see our press release for more information.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank committee members Haim Gottschalk, Anne Knafl, Gabriel Mordoch, and David Levy, who have worked tirelessly to put together a worthy list of candidate works and review the finalists.

We would also like to recognize and thank Dr. Greta Silver of New York (Reference Award) and Mr. Eric Kline of Santa Monica (Bibliography Award) for their commitment and continuing support of these awards.


Amalia S. Levi
AJL Reference and Bibliography Committee Chair

"Love Your Neighbor" for Passover

The Association of Jewish Libraries is pleased to present a new booklist for youth in the Love Your Neighbor series: List #6 Passover.

The Love Your Neighbor series recommends Jewish books for ALL readers. Books read in youth impact future outlooks, and it is our hope that meeting Jews on the page will inspire friendship when readers meet Jews in real life. Passover in particular has a history fraught with tension between Christians and Jews, so it is important to give readers a deeper understanding of the holiday.

This list includes fiction, nonfiction, history, haggadot, and even a cookbook. Titles are linked to Indiebound or other booksellers for your convenience, and this is a good time to remember that independent bookstores not only need our support, but can deliver books more quickly than Amazon, which is currently prioritizing delivery of "essentials." (Whether books should be considered essential is an argument for another day!)

We may not be able to gather in person to celebrate this year, but we can still enjoy reading about Passover, discussing these books online, and perhaps even using a recommended haggadah if your family decides to hold a virtual seder. Happy Passover, and stay healthy!

Love Your Neighbor

In response to rising antisemitism in the United States, the Association of Jewish Libraries offers the Love Your Neighbor series of book lists for all young readers. Books read in youth impact future outlooks, and it is our hope that meeting Jews on the page will inspire friendship when readers meet Jews in real life.

This is the sixth in a series of book lists intended to provide children and their families with a greater understanding of the Jewish religion and its people. This sixth list features books about the eight-day springtime festival of Passover, a major Jewish holiday that is one of the most widely celebrated of the year.

Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter, both springtime holidays, are connected. The historical setting of Easter is Jerusalem at Passover, and some think the Last Supper was a Passover seder meal. Yet, as the website My Jewish Learning explains in their article “Passover and Easter,” the holidays are quite different. The website tells us “Passover
summons Jews collectively into the world to repair it; Easter proffers a way out of a world beyond repair.”

The relationship between the two holidays hasn’t always been congenial. For centuries, an ancient conspiracy theory called “the blood libel” —a bizarre accusation of ritual murder—was used as a pretext for deadly attacks on Jewish communities during the Passover season. Today, relations have greatly improved, and non-Jewish friends are welcome
at many Passover seders.

We present to you these Passover titles, available in libraries, bookstores, and online.

The entire Love Your Neighbor series of book lists can be found at JewishLibraries.org/Love_Your_Neighbor.

Book List #6: Passover


The Story of Passover by David A. Adler (ages 5-10)
Passover commemorates the Jews’ escape from slavery in the land of Egypt. The complex Biblical story of Moses and the Exodus is laid out in simple terms in this lovely picture book.

The Best Four Questions by Rachelle Burk (ages 3-8)
The youngest child at the seder always asks four traditional questions about what makes Passover unique. It’s a technique meant to keep the whole family engaged. In this humorous tale, Marcy makes up her own questions and learns a lot more than she expected to.

Celebrate Passover with Matzah, Maror, and Memories by Deborah Heiligman (ages 5-9)
Gorgeous National Geographic photos show Jews around the world celebrating Passover. Extensive back matter includes further information, recipes, map and a glossary.

The Mouse in the Matzah Factory by Francine Medoff (ages 3-8)
From wheatfield to box, every stage of the creation of matzah, Passover’s ritual bread, is watched by a curious mouse.

Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah by Sylvia Rouss (ages 3-8)
“Haggadah” means “order” - it’s a step by step guidebook to a seder, meant to be used at the table during the festive meal. This haggadah is aimed at younger kids, and will
keep them engaged with brightly colored collage art and interactive text.

More Than Enough by April Halprin Wayland (ages 3-8)
The traditional Passover song “Dayenu” means “it would have been enough for us.” This gentle story demonstrates mindfulness and gratitude during the holiday. A glossary
and author’s note round out the book.

Miriam at the River by Jane Yolen (ages 4-8)
At Passover we retell the biblical story of Moses, including his babyhood rescue by his sister Miriam the prophet. This lovely volume focuses on Miriam’s experience.


Let My Children Cook! By Tamar Ansh (ages 8+)
Over 80 easy Passover recipes that kids can cook with help or on their own, accompanied by humorous illustrations and bonus craft activities.

Wonders and Miracles: A Passover Companion by Eric A. Kimmel (ages 6+)
A gorgeous compilation of history, stories, songs, poetry, and seder customs, illustrated with art spanning 3000 years.

Passover Around the World by Tami Lehman-Wilzig (ages 7-11)
A comprehensive tour of Passover customs from across the globe, accompanied by stories, recipes, maps, and fun facts.

Penina Levine Is a Hard-Boiled Egg by Rebecca O’Connell (ages 9-12)
In this middle grade novel, Jewish Penina’s public school class is assigned an Easter Bunny project, but she stands up for her beliefs and schools her teachers on diversity.

Welcome to the Seder: A Passover Haggadah for Everyone by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky (ages 12+)
This Haggadah, with its lively art and its universal message on the value of freedom, is welcoming, inclusive, and easy to understand, for first timers and old timers alike.

Puppet by Eva Wiseman (ages 12+)
The blood libel is an ancient lie that Jews ritually murder Christian children and use their blood to make matzah, used as a pretext for violence against Jews. This dark story is a fictionalized account of the last blood libel trial in Europe in 1883. Not easy reading, but an important story.

2020 AJL Conference update, March 25, 2020

logo for AJL 2020 conference in Evenston

AJL Conference 2020 Update: March 25, 2020

After much research, discussion, and deliberation, the Association of Jewish Libraries has decided to cancel our annual conference scheduled for June 29-July 1, 2020 in Evanston, IL.

We know that you are disappointed in hearing this news, but the AJL Board felt strongly that there was no other choice to make given the uncertainty of the progress of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus).

We will be in touch soon with information for those who have pre-registered for the conference and with information about potential alternative opportunities for us to share our knowledge and skills. Our hope is to have answers to these questions soon, but with the situation changing so rapidly, and Passover on the horizon, it might be a few weeks.

Thank you for your continued support of AJL. We appreciate your patience as we work through this unparalleled situation. The Board and Council hope to have resources available for members related to librarianship in this interesting time and ways to best serve our patrons. 

A huge thank you goes out to our conference organizers, especially National Conference Chair Lisa Silverman and local chairs, Rachel Kamin and Marcie Eskin for all the work they and their committee did in preparation for the conference.


Dina Herbert                                   Kathy Bloomfield

President, AJL                                  VP-President Elect, AJL     

View the complete announcement here: https://jewishlibraries.org/announcements.php?id=79

2020 AJL Conference Update, March 18, 2020

2020 AJL conference logo


Due to the COVID-19 virus, the in-person conference has been canceled and a new virtual conference is being designed.

AJL Conference Update 

by Marcie Eskin & Rachel Kamin

March 18, 2020





A person smiling next to a book shelfDescription automatically generated

Due to ongoing uncertainty in regard to future conferences in general, AJL leadership has made the decision to put a freeze on registrations for the 2020 Conference at this time. The conference is not cancelled. We will accept new registrations when things become more clear in regard to current issues surrounding the Coronavirus measures across the country. 

We also advise those who have already registered and may wish a refund to please wait until there is more direction from the organization. At this time, as stated on the Registration Frequently Asked Questions document on the Upcoming Conference page of the AJL website, refunds are permitted, with a charge of $36 if you paid electronically.

We have also eliminated the "Early Bird" member rate, and, if we proceed, all registrations will be at the $450 rate up until the day before the start of the conference.

Please check the AJL website and conference page. All future notifications in this regard will be posted there and also on the HaSafran listserv.

Stay healthy everyone!

Lisa Silverman

[email protected]

National Conference Chair


To read previous weekly conference updates, go to the 55TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2020 page of the AJL website and scroll down to the “Documents” section.



Association of Jewish Libraries

Annual Conference

June 29-July 1, 2020

Hilton Orrington Hotel

Evanston, Illinois

[email protected]


AJL Conference Update, March 11 2020 (COVID 19 update)


AJL Conference Update

by Marcie Eskin & Rachel Kamin
March 11, 2020



With the spreading of the Coronavirus COVID 19, the Association of Jewish Libraries is thinking of all those affected by the virus in the United States and worldwide. We are all mindful of the impact it is currently having on the greater community and Jewish community.

As of now, we are preparing to go ahead with the 55th Annual Conference in Evanston, IL, June 29-July 1, 2020. However, we understand that this is a rapidly changing situation. And should our decision change, we will respond accordingly and communicate our plans to you. Please check the AJL website and conference page. All future notifications in this regard will be posted there and also on the HaSafran listserv.

We do understand some organizations have implemented their own travel bans and recognize that traveling to conferences is a choice that each attendee will need to make, based on his or her individual situation.

Dina Herbert
AJL President
[email protected]

To read previous weekly conference updates, go to the 55TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2020 page

of the AJL website and scroll down to the “Documents” section.


Association of Jewish Libraries
Annual Conference
June 29-July 1, 2020
Hilton Orrington Hotel
Evanston, Illinois
[email protected]