Welcome to the Libraries of the American Jewish University! We are proud to serve all AJU students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the general and scholarly community. Our mission is to support learning, research, and personal enrichment, in an inclusive, welcoming environment
The Ostrow Academic Library has a constantly growing curriculum and research-directed collection, containing approximately 284,000 print and e-book titles, 31,000 print and e-journal titles, rich electronic resources, DVDs, CDs,
and microfilm. We have an especially rich collection in Jewish Studies and related fields, and a superb Yizkor book collection as well.
With free Wi-Fi, 8 public use computers, study rooms, carrels, couches, easy chairs, and large tables, the library is a comfortable place to study, research a topic of interest, and enjoy leisure time. Please ask for assistance in using the library’s abundant and varied resources. Our reference librarian and staff are happy to help you.
Highlights of Our Lowy-Winkler Rare Book Collections
The Lowy-Winkler Family Rare Book Center, a gift of Peter and Janine Lowy, is home to the Maslan Bible Collection and this unusual assemblage of exceptional volumes includes approximately 3,600 Bibles, some dating back almost to the inception of the printing press. This collection also features bible translations representing most of the written languages of the world, as well as the Kalman-Friedman Collection of Italian Judaica.
Maslan Bible Collections
Most of the volumes you see within the Rare Book Center are the nearly 3,600 rare and unique bibles and other sacred works of the Maslan Bible Collection. This collection also features bible translations representing most of the written languages of the world. This collection began when a Seattle attorney, Ben Maslan, asked at the last moment to address the local bar association on biblical versus secular law. He went out to buy a bible in a used bookstore to use for his research and he was hit by the collecting bug. He would make hunting for bibles a family activity, with the youngest child accompanying him asking store owners “You wouldn’t happen to have a slightly used Gutenberg?” The Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed on a printing press in 1454!
Pirkei Avot Collection
Ostrow Library received from the old Jewish Community Library a large collection of various versions of Pirkei Avot–Ethics of the Fathers. This was collected by Rabbi Solomon M. Neches of Los Angeles’ Breed Street Shul. This collection has titles from 5 continents spanning 500 years. It also includes 13 binders of his manuscript of a biblical lexicon. Oddly enough, the tapestries in the old AJU sanctuary based on themes from Pirkei Avot made by the artist Phil Ratner were hung in the very spot of the current rare book center. The tapestries are now at the back of the main library.
Kalman Friedmann Italian Judaica Collection
Another major section of the collection is that of Rabbi Kalman Friedmann, former Chief Rabbi of Florence, Italy. Most of the Italian Jewish community and its 2000 year history vanished after the Holocaust. Rabbi Friedmann brought his collection of rare books and unique ephemera to AJU where he taught in his later years.
Rabbi Emil Klein Collection
Rabbi Emil Klein saved several works of Judaica from small deserted synagogues in France after the first World War. Then in World War II he was interred in a camp near his home, he brazenly went to the Nazi commander to “ask for some blankets” for the inmates. While at the headquarters, which was in what had been Rabbi Klein’s home, he asked to have some Hebrew books to read. The Commandant said that they were filthy Jewish books and threw them out the window. Rabbi Klein left quietly, rescued the books a second time and then buried them in a neighbor’s back yard, a true righteous Gentile.
The Survivor's Talmud
Another Holocaust related story is that of the Survivor’s Talmud printed by the U.S. Army. Two rabbis who had survived the Holocaust thought that by resuming their habit of daily study, Jews in the DP camps would get back to some semblance of normality. They made their request to a U.S. Army chaplain. The frontispiece engraved by one of the survivors captures the transition from Holocaust to the rebirth of Eretz Yisrael. You can learn more about this work from the recording of a AJU’sB’yachad Platform From Darkness to a Great Light event with Jackie Ben-Efraim, Special Collections Librarian at Ostrow Library.
The Werner Frank Collection has some lovely volumes from the 19th century, including a very rare edition of the Haggadah from Leipzig can be found in the Lowy-Winkler Family Rare Book Center. The vast majority of the collection consists of genealogy resources and shtetl maps. These archival items are stored in the Phoebe and Werner Frank Family Room, along with mementos from the Frank Family home in Eppingham, Germany during the interwar period.
A small but important collection was donated to Ostrow Library by a long time library volunteer, Alex Lauterbach. The highlight of the Lauterbach-Marr Collection is a 1499 edition of the complete works of Josephus, allowing the Lowy-Winkler to display this finely rebound incunabula. Incunabula are books printed at the cradle of printing from 1455 – 1500.
Online and On Site Archives
On Site Archives
David L. Lieber Papers
Dr. David L. Lieber was the first president of UJ/AJU and an eminent biblical scholar. He edited the Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary published by the Rabbinical Assembly of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The David L. Lieber Papers is a collection of thousands of documents, subject files, index cards, and media all created or gathered by Dr. Lieber throughout his life. The materials include publications, addresses, speeches, writings, correspondence, teaching materials and school papers. Dr. Lieber collected and created quotes, articles, bibliographies, and notes covering a vast amount of subjects, including Judaism, ethics, philosophy, religion, Israel, education and much more. The collection provides insight into Dr. Lieber’s life, his work, research and vast knowledge. For access please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Louis Shub Documentation Center
The Louis Shub Documentation Center at the American Jewish University is a collection of thousands of articles from various newspapers and periodicals covering a range of subjects. Gathered by Dr. Shub, the former library director of the University of Judaism, the collection was used by students to research subjects such as Israeli and Jewish figures, Foreign Policy, Global Jewish Communities, Israel, the Middle East and many other issues and subjects. The importance of this collection is the juxtaposing of articles from major papers with those of small local papers both covering the same event. For access please contact email@example.com.
The American Jewish University Digital Archive includes photographs, scrapbooks, and ephemera that document the history of the University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute which merged to become American Jewish University in 2007, depicting people, places and events at both campuses. These photographs include great Jewish thinkers who founded AJU and were involved with its growth over the years. The creation of both institutions was made possible by philanthropists to whom we owe the building of University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. Items digitized represent a fraction of the archived material housed at both the Familian Campus and Brandeis-Bardin Campus of American Jewish University. Consult the library for further information.
Audio Visual Archives
The University’s library had a modest beginning. Its quality and content were due to the dedication and efforts of one person, Dr. Louis Shub, who became its first director in 1954. The Jewish Theological Seminary transferred to its West Coast branch two collections. These were mostly rabbinic books, including commentaries on the Bible, and were considered a good basic library in Judaica.
In the University’s first home on Ardmore Avenue, the library was housed in the dining room, which had several beautiful paneled wood bookcases fronted with glass doors, where the books were kept under lock and key.
The library did not begin to grow until the move to Sunset Boulevard. Here the library was initially housed in what had been a basketball court on the second floor. Soon the library was expanded into the former handball courts as well. Dr. Shub called it “the victory of reading room and Judaism over Hellenism” – this from an avid sports fan!
The library expanded even more when the University of Judaism, which was to become American Jewish University moved to the Familian Campus off of Mulholland Drive. A unique feature in the new library was the Documentation Center which dealt with contemporary Jewish affairs. Dr. Shub’s hobby was to rise early in the morning, read newspapers and periodicals from all over the world, then place photocopies in files with nearly 3000 different classifications. The Shub Documentation still exists today in a digital format, which is accessible only from the library.
In 2009, Ostrow LIbrary at American Jewish University merged with the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles. A separate reading room was created to house a community focused collection. Southern California residents could now hold AJU library cards and enjoy circulation privileges.
Dr. Shub in the Sunset Boulevard Library.
Ostrow Library was completely renovated and expanded in 2013 to include the Lowy-Winkler Rare Book Center. The old dark stacks were brought out into the open and rolling bookcases were installed to make it possible to house more volumes in a light-filled environment. Access to technology both on campus and remotely was improved.
Our Partnership with AJL
Ostrow Library hosts the 2019 AJL Conference.
AJU’s partnership goes back many years. Ostrow’s second library director, Rick Burke, was an active participant at AJL conferences. Two of our current staff members have served on AJL’s Board. AJU hosted AJL for the day during the successful 2019 Conference with two staff members serving as the conference co-chairs. Judaica librarians from around the world were impressed by Ostrow Library and delighted to see a cozy community library section.
The Ostrow Academic Library at AJU has a constantly-growing curriculum and research-directed collection, including published works from our faculty, staff.
President Dr. Jeffrey Herbst
President Dr. Jeffrey Herbst, has authored Democracy Works: Turning Politics to Africa’s Advantage. Democracy Works asks how we can learn to nurture, deepen and consolidate democracy in Africa. By analyzing transitions within and beyond the continent, the authors identify a ‘democratic playbook’ robust enough to withstand threats to free and fair elections. more
Professor Ziony Zevit, Distinguished Professor of Biblical Literature and Northwest Semitic Languages at American Jewish University, was published in a compilation titled Ve-’Ed Ya‘aleh (Gen 2: 6), Volume 2: Essays in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. He was included in the section relating to Studies in Biblical Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Languages, and specifically regarding Exodus 1, Akkadian pilku, and Israelite Corvée Labor. more
Interim Library Director
Special Collections Librarian
Jackie Ben-Efraim is originally from Silver Spring, MD and started her college career at the University of Maryland. She moved to New York to attend the Joint Program at
JTS and Columbia University. She completed her undergraduate degree as well as her MLS at Columbia. Jackie was an intern at the YIVO library as part of her masters degree program. After Jackie moved to Los Angeles in 1980, she studied at UCLA’s Rare Book School and has taken courses in book conservation under the direction of the Head of Preservation at The Huntington Library. For the last 15 years, Jackie has been the Special Collections Librarian in the Ostrow Library’s Lowy-Winkler Family Rare Book Center at American Jewish University. Twice a year she creates exhibits with materials from the Lowy-Winkler Rare Book Center.
Tours & Appointments
Support Our Library
Ostrow Library Hours
Monday – Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Closed: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Closed: Jewish and Civic Holidays
By appointment only.
More information on how to book a tour: firstname.lastname@example.org
Appointments for Individual Researchers
For research purposes, scholars can make an appointment with the curator and send a mail to: email@example.com.
Access our Catalogue
The public is invited to apply for a library card. Electronic are available to everyone while using the library in person. Only AJU students have access to electronic resources.