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Past Events

AJL Presents (open to the public). View past AJL Presents recordings here.

In celebration of Jewish Book Month and Hanukkah, our Fall 2022 Jewish Kidlit Author Showcase presented new and forthcoming Jewish picture books, middle grade books, and young adult books written by AJL member authors.

Cosponsored by AJL’s SSCPL Division, Kidlit in Color, and StoryTime Solidarity.

SSCPL Vice President Aviva Rosenberg moderated “What Makes a Jewish Book?” with children’s book editors Arthur A. Levine, Dianne Hess, and Karen Smith as part of the New York Jewish Book Festival.

Peninnah Schram, acclaimed Jewish storyteller, will lead a workshop on storytelling through names.

According to Jewish tradition, we each have three names and they carry many meanings and blessings. Names reflect our essence and also shape our lives and our personalities. In this participatory presentation, we will explore sources, meanings, and connections to our names—and how they have influenced us through life. People—students, new and old friends, members of organizations, etc.—get to know their teachers, colleagues, and others in an interesting way through narratives. Peninnah will also introduce the Jewish tradition of a “name pasuk.” Participants will examine and share interpretations of their names. Peninnah Schram will also tell her own name stories. 

Caren Schnur Neile, author of Peninnah’s World: A Jewish Life in Stories, will join us to interview Peninnah and lead a Q&A.

From Charlottesville to Colleyville, antisemitism is at an all-time high, making the need to help Jewish children find their voices to speak up against hatred and build Jewish pride a priority. This workshop will highlight outstanding Jewish-themed books for children of all ages, to be utilized as bridges, not only within our Jewish community, but with the community at large. We’ll share books that avoid stereotypes, include accurate material, and present diverse and intersectional Jewish voices that act as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors. As Jewish kidlit authors, our goal is to highlight books that provide positive role models and incorporate Jewish values, building a foundation for our children to be upstanders and allies.

A celebration of this year’s award winners for outstanding works of Judaica reference and bibliography.

  • Bibliography award: Marvin J. HellerEssays on the Making of the Early Hebrew ּּּּּBook
  • Reference award: Eugene M. Avrutin and Elissa Bemporad, eds., Pogroms: A Documentary History
  • Honorable mention, Bibliography: Dov CohenThesaurus of the Ladino Book 1490–1960: An Annotated Bibliography

Following recognition of the authors, Eugene Avrutin and Elissa Bemporad will discuss their book Pogroms.

The Yerusha Project is a digital humanities initiative by the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe. It is an online hub of information regarding European Jewish archival heritage. Covering over 12,000 archival collections in 550 institutions of 28 countries, Yerusha operates as a central, online catalogue of Jewish and Jewish-related archival holdings. The presentation will provide a demonstration of the database’s various features and it will touch upon the potential future development of the resource.

Gabor Kadar is the Director of the Yerusha Project, a digital humanities initiative by the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe. He is also a recurrent visiting professor of the Jewish Studies Program at the Central European University (Budapest-Vienna). Former Senior Historian of the Hungarian Jewish Archives (Budapest), Dr Kadar is the author and co-author of six monographs and numerous studies and articles regarding various aspects of the Holocaust and the history of Jews in Hungary. He has lead and participated in archival research projects for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem. Dr Kadar is member of the Digital Forum Advisory Board of the European Association of Jewish Studies.

This talk will look at some examples of the provenance-tracing efforts that went into the book The Cairo Genizah and the Age of Discovery in Egypt. It will discuss the methods and challenges of tracing ownership; the pitfalls and roadblocks caused by hidden, missing, or conflicting evidence; and the pleasures of discovering lost or underexplored connections.

 

Rebecca J. W. Jefferson is the curator of the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida and a joint faculty member of the Center for Jewish Studies. She received her PhD in medieval Hebrew from the University of Cambridge and worked as a bibliographer in the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit prior to moving to the U.S. She has produced numerous articles on the history and provenance of the Cairo Genizah collections. Her book, The Cairo Genizah and the Age of Discovery in Egypt: the History and Provenance of a Jewish Archive (I. B. Tauris), was published in February 2022.

Much has been written about the academic legacy of Salo Baron as a result of his scholarship and research. A recent book from Columbia University Press broadens our perspective of his legacy, by reflecting on the role he played in reshaping Jewish studies in the United States from his perch in Morningside Heights. Collecting articles from numerous scholars to mark the 90th anniversary of Baron’s arrival at Columbia University, this book features analysis of his impact as a public intellectual, the creator of the first academic center to study Israel, and champion of libraries. Rebecca Kobrin and Michelle Chesner will discuss the recent book and how it informs Baron’s important impact on Columbia University and the world.

Rebecca Kobrin is the Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History at Columbia University, where she is also co-director of Columbia’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies. Her book Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora (2010) was awarded the Jordan Schnitzer prize. She is the editor of Chosen Capital: The Jewish Encounter with American Capitalism (2012) and is coeditor with Adam Teller of Purchasing Power: The Economics of Jewish History (2015). Her forthcoming book, A Credit to the Nation: East European Immigrant Bankers and American Finance, 1870–1930, will be published by Harvard University Press.

When the Jews of Spain, the Sephardim, fled the 15th-century Inquisition and Expulsion, they took with them a rich culture and cuisine through Europe, the Middle East, and to the Americas. The music and food were very rarely committed to writing by the original Sephardim, though much has been passed down through oral tradition and later written.

Explore this fascinating journey of cultural identity and survival with two leaders of America’s Sephardic community, Sarah Aroeste and Susan Barocas. Ladino singer/songwriter, author, and activist Sarah Aroeste is committed to bringing awareness of Sephardic music and culture to audiences around the globe. With seven Ladino albums to her name and two Sephardic children’s books, Aroeste is credited for helping to revitalize a tradition for young and old. Writer, chef, and cooking instructor Susan Barocas is passionate about healthy, no-waste cooking and Jewish food, especially Sephardic history, cultures, and cuisines. Founding director of the Jewish Food Experience, she served as guest chef for three of President Obama’s White House seders.

The FBI reports that 60% of all religious hate crimes target Jewish people despite the fact that only 2% of America’s population identifies as Jewish. As librarians and educators, how can we push back against this injustice? Join StoryTime Solidarity and the Association of Jewish Libraries for a free workshop on standing in solidarity with the Jewish community. Get answers to the questions you didn’t know you wanted to ask, learn about Jewish diversity, and find out what actions you can take and what books you can buy to help the Jewish community—even if you have no Jewish patrons or students!

Join Tracey Felder, librarian at the Leo Baeck Institute, and Melanie Meyers, Director of Collections at the American Jewish Historical Society, for a discussion about the cookbooks in their collections. They will then invite participation by asking attendees some questions about cookbooks at their own institutions (or in their personal collections).

The first volume of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Book Cultures was recently published online (Brill Publishers of Leiden and Boston). Join its general editor, Dr. Emile Schrijver, for a discussion of this comprehensive work that places textuality and materiality of the book at the center of its investigation by focusing on the paleographic features, intended function, cultural significance, readership, acceptance, and design of particular books and genres, as well as the producer-consumer relations involved in the making and circulating of books.

The Sydney Taylor Book Awards are announced on January 24 at ALA’s Youth Media Awards event. Come to AJL’s “after party” on January 30 to learn about the winning titles and to meet Jo Taylor Marshall, the award’s gracious sponsor and daughter of Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family books.

Join AJL’s Emily Bergman in conversation with Emily Drabinski, candidate for ALA president. Ms. Drabinski is Interim Chief Librarian at the Mina Rees Library at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She has worked in libraries for more than twenty years in positions ranging from looseleaf legal filer to library director. This session will give Ms. Drabinski an opportunity to share her vision for ALA and allow AJL members to discuss issues specific to Judaica librarianship.

You don’t have to be a Yiddish speaker to know some Yiddish fables, especially your own family mayses related to Yiddish. Join Chana Pollack, archivist of the Forward, as we unfurl the latest adventure in seeking relatives who appeared in the paper, most notably, Yiddish journalist Moshe Duchovny, grandfather of actor David Duchovny.

Join AJL’s Sally Stieglitz in conversation with Kelvin Watson, candidate for ALA president. Mr. Watson is the executive director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, having previously served in similar roles in Broward County, Florida, and Queens, New York. Libraries under his leadership have garnered national recognition, and he has received numerous honors and awards. This session will give Mr. Watson an opportunity to share his vision for ALA and allow AJL members to discuss issues specific to Judaica librarianship.

Previous AJL Presents programs:

  • Book Discussions
    • The Matzah Ball 
    • Apeirogon
    • The Book of V.
  • Author Showcases
  • Esther and the Threshold Moment: A Study of Art and Text
  • Combating Antisemitism Through Children’s Literature
  • Books about Books:
    • Honey on the Page by Miriam Udel
    • Dainy Bernstein on Haredi Children’s Literature
    • Sefer Tagin Fragments from the Cairo Genizah by Marc Michaels
    • Joshua Teplitsky, Prince of the Press
  • Recommended Recent Jewish Children’s Books for Collection Development
  • Mapathon: Put your institution on the map
  • Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI)
  • Jewish American Heritage Month event cosponsored with Moment Magazine
  • Sydney Taylor Book Awards and the Sydney Taylor Shmooze

AJL Roundtables (members only). Login to view past AJL Roundtable recordings.

What can you do when a school or library is promoting books with disinformation about Israel? Come learn practical steps you can take and get recommendations for alternative titles you can suggest.

Sponsored by AJL’s SSCPL Division and AJL Canada

Synagogue archives are rapidly up-and-coming community archive repositories. Often run by committed volunteers, librarians, or others, they tend to fall outside the bounds of “traditional” archives. In this roundtable, we will discuss the basics of archives and synagogue archives and highlight available resources, with the aim of creating a support network for those who have taken responsibility for a synagogue archive. 

Home to a large, Yiddish-speaking Jewish population, interwar Paris was a hub of global Yiddish culture. Multiple leftist Yiddish libraries provided communal spaces and written materials for workers and immigrants to learn about Jewish and French radical politics. Nick Underwood, assistant professor of history and the Berger/Neilsen Chair of Judaic Studies at the College of Idaho, described the spectrum of leftist Yiddish-language libraries in Paris and explore the divisions and the collaborations among them.

A patron is looking for a specific book, for example, one written by a Hebrew language instructor and intended for students of the Hebrew language. To help with the search, the cataloger might include specific headings in the bibliographic record. These headings are the Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT)—a controlled vocabulary created by the Library of Congress to supplement the Library of Congress Subject Headings by bringing out the demographic group of the author and/or the intended audience. This forum will discuss the best practice use of the LCDGT headings, where in the bibliographic record and Name Authority Records these LCDGT headings are recorded, and the process of submitting proposals for new LCDGT headings.

Like most librarians, we at the Association of Jewish Libraries are concerned about the increase in book banning and the suppression of marginalized voices. At the same time, AJL members were disturbed to hear the defense of Holocaust denial books made at ALA’s 2022 annual conference during a session about the Unite Against Book Bans campaign. This panel will explore the tensions between defending the freedom to read and guarding against harmful disinformation.

Our guests are Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, and Michael Berenbaum, Professor at American Jewish University specializing in the study of the Holocaust.

 

This session on genre terms and form headings will be led by Dorie Kurtz of the Library of Congress.

In this presentation, doctoral candidate Vardit Lightstone will address the creative ways that migrants to Canada from 1900 to 1930 forged a new hybrid culture and identity, and how they express that in their life stories.

When Eastern European Jews migrated to Canada, they created a Canadian Eastern European Jewish culture and identity; by doing so, they expanded the international Yiddish map and Yiddish culture. Vardit has uncovered previously unknown memoirs and personal narratives by these migrants and will discuss how they tell the stories of their own lives, connecting their early lives and experiences in Eastern Europe to their lives and experiences in Canada.

Vardit Lightstone is a doctoral candidate in a Joint Education Placement Program between the University of Toronto and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on the life stories of Yiddish-speaking immigrants to Canada from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In her research she interrogates both the folk literary genre of life stories and the ways migrants use folklore as they adapt to their new situations. 

In this presentation, Rory MacLellan (Historic Royal Palaces) will discuss his work on the Tower’s medieval Jewish history, which has resulted in a new catalogue of archival sources and a dataset of biographies of Jewish prisoners, workers, and refugees at the Tower. He will talk about the research process, his methodology, and the challenges of researching and presenting sensitive histories at a major tourist attraction.

 

Rory MacLellan is a postdoctoral research fellow at Historic Royal Palaces. He was awarded his PhD in medieval history by the University of St Andrews. He specialises in medieval religious history and has published on the crusades, Jewish conversion, and far-right appropriations of the Middle Ages.

Learn how to effectively teach, in one shot, middle school, high school, and adult learners how to recognize misinformation and disinformation using the SIFT process and CRAAP test. Taught by Sean Boyle.

Dr. Jason Lustig, Lecturer and Israel Institute Teaching Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, will discuss his recent book A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture, published by Oxford University Press in December 2021. A Time to Gather is a transnational history of twentieth-century Jewish archives with a focus on Germany, the United States, and the state of Israel, and it argues that archives have never been neutral. Instead, by looking at the struggles over who might “own” Jewish history, both before the Holocaust and especially in its aftermath given the context of Nazi looting and post-war restitution, the book showcases how archives have always been battlegrounds not just over the Jewish past but also the possibilities of the future. Dr. Lustig will also discuss ongoing efforts to create monumental archives of the Jewish past, and how digitization magnifies, rather than mitigates, concerns about “owning” the past.

Get a basic introduction to the graphic design platform Canva and learn some techniques for using it to create games, quizzes, and digital felt boards to jazz up virtual classes or storytimes.

Part of a continuing series of roundtable discussions for librarians who work with students.

Presented by Dr. Isaac Hershkowitz & Dr. Leore Sachs Shmueli, Jewish Philosophy Department, Bar Ilan University.

The presentation will explore new ways to address classical questions of Jewish studies. We wish to demonstrate how text mining tools can be useful for “distant” reading of large corpuses and shed light on pivotal, even centuries’ old, questions and challenges of Jewish scholarship.

Perplexity regarding authenticity and authorship, spatiotemporal and interschool transformations of texts and ideas, identification and analysis of major patterns, concepts, and social shifts reflecting cultural significance—these are some of the challenges that we attempt to outline and undertake.

Examining methodological challenges and initial findings of Big Data tools in Jewish studies in this presentation may pave important paths to the future of the field.

Gather with your AJL Pals for some socializing across the miles. Hear the latest about what’s happening in AJL, share some of your own photos or souvenirs from times when we’ve been together, tell us what you’ve been reading lately, and bring up your own topics so we can all chat. Wear something literary if you can! BYOR (bring your own refreshments).

AJL Canada presents a panel on Jewish rare books in Canadian collections with Michael Kent, Curator, Jacob M. Lowy collection of Rare Judaica at the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa; Eddie Paul, Senior Director of Library & Learning Services at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal; and Nadav Sharon, Judaica Librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

This meeting is for RAS selectors to discuss issues and updates in their fields: new books, projects, and other acquisitions-related topics.

Previous AJL Roundtables:

  • Accreditation Q&A
  •  Archival Collections Showcase
  • Bias in Cataloguing
  • Alma: Tips and Tricks with Ahava Cohen
  • Summer Reads
  • Donations to Synagogue Libraries
  • SSPLC Course Development
  • Wikidata: Beginner’s workshop
  • Digitization basics for small synagogue archives
  • “Sekhel Circle” (Retirees/New Students)
  • Teaching with digitized primary sources(with AJS)
  • Cataloguing de-mystified (with AJS)
  • Preparing high school students for college
  • Howard Freedman and Marjorie Schuster on ebook collections
  • Managing the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit 
  • Cataloging Forum: The LC classifiications of BM vs. KBM
  • Digital Humanities: Footprints: Jewish Books Through Time and Place

AJL Classroom

What makes a book a young adult book? How can you provide appropriate advisories for teen readers while standing on one foot? Participants will discuss appropriateness in terms of both content and readability and focus on making matches between books and readers.

Rebecca Levitan holds a BA in history and Judaic studies from Binghamton University and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a full-time generalist librarian and the children’s coordinator at the Pikesville Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the immediate past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, vice president of AJL’s Schools, Synagogues, Centers and Public Libraries Division, coeditor of children’s and teen books for AJL News and Reviews, and president of the AJL Capital Area Chapter. As a mom of three young children, she is passionate about quality Jewish literature. Rebecca is also an avid knitter and can often be found working on a shawl that she will likely not wear because it is too warm in Baltimore most of the year.

Does your library have a mission statement? Or a strategic plan?

Do you know how to prepare a budget for the library?

Do you know how to attract and keep volunteers? Or “fire” a volunteer?

What is your leadership style?

This highly interactive class will delve into these topics and more to teach the management skills needed to understand the “business” of running your library. There will be discussions and homework. An assignment due at the end of Session 3 will demonstrate that you know how to ensure that your library is a priority in your institution.

Instructor Kathy Bloomfield is the president of the Association of Jewish Libraries. Though currently “retired,” she uses her time for a variety of activities such as book editing, book reviewing, and managing her personal library of over two thousand books. With over forty-five years of experience in for-profit, nonprofit, and entrepreneurial business, volunteer roles including synagogue president, and innumerable committee work, she is ideally suited to use her expertise to assist others in finding their managerial talents. Kathy lives in Seal Beach, California.

 

Organizing a synagogue’s collection is crucial to maintaining a library rather than a “room full of books.” This three-session course will provide synagogue librarians and volunteers with tools to catalog and classify their Judaica, focusing on the Elazar Classification System, one option for smaller libraries. We’ll also share our experiences with cataloging and with automation systems and work together to tackle challenging classification questions.

As librarian at Beth Hillel Bnai Emunah in Wilmette, Illinois, and North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois, instructor Marcie Eskin has been cataloging adult and children’s materials in synagogue libraries for more than twenty years. A past president of AJL’s Chicago chapter, Marcie is a member of AJL’s conference planning committee, serving as conference registrar since 2015. Marcie holds a BA in government from Cornell University and a master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University.

 

Previous AJL Classroom courses:

  • Programming & Outreach for Synagogue Libraries
  • Storytelling